The Democratic National Convention is going to have to pull out some surprises to out-weird the Republican event, which drew on such expert political speakers as Ultimate Fighting boss Dana White, a Calvin Klein underwear model, a couple of soap opera actresses, the world's 492nd best woman golfer, a couple of former reality show stars, the manager of a winery Trump owns in Virginia, and Chachi from "Happy Days."
According to Chachi, he was asked to speak exactly four days ahead of time, and had to write his speech during church on Sunday.
Frankly, I think it's a brilliant choice. If you had asked Ritchie Cunningham, you'd get an hour of oh-shucks boredom. If you went with The Fonz, all he's got is that "Eyyyy," thing, and even in politics, a catch-phrase only goes so far. Mrs. C is much too liberal to get an invite, and Potsie already had a gig addressing the Elks Club auxiliary of Greater Sheboygan. I wonder what Pinkie Tuskadero is doing these days?
Why Chachi? Are we hoping for policy to turn back the clock to the 1950s? Maybe Clint Eastwood's chair was already booked, who knows.
Wait a cotton-picking moment here... what if Chach is laying the groundwork for his own presidential candidacy in 2024?! A TV celebrity with zero experience in public office running for the White House? Nahhh... that would never happen.
But seriously, who hasn't laid awake at night wondered how the issues of the day are affecting Chachi? If a Trump presidency means we finally get "Zapped! 2" the vote will be unanimous.
I have just one disappointment. Why, oh why, did they not pair up speakers Scott Baio and Iowa's own Senator Ernst? The "Joni Loves Chachi" gags would have been magnificent, at least for the minority of us who are old enough to know what "Happy Days" was, and yet, miraculously, are still somewhat alive.
Personally, I think all former sitcom stars should have to pick a political side. Will the Democrats trot out "The Brady Bunch?" Will "Aalf" endorse Hillary?
Still, given the fact that Trump's campaign is one of the most unconventional in history, his convention seemed disappointingly normal. I'm not sure what I was expecting - flying monkeys in 24k gold flake diamond-studded jump suits circling Melania, maybe. The Donald's closing speech, with the smoke and light effects entry and the strange choice of "We are the Champions" with the late gay icon Freddy Mercury was a tiny bit pro-wrestling, but couldn't we have gotten just a couple of monkeys?
The past presidents Bush were among Republican luminaries conspicuous by their absence, while the Demos have two presidents (possibly three if Carter is able to make a brief appearance) and a VP on their schedule. They're no Chaci, but they'll have to do.
For the GOP, the convention was about conservative values (even if they did play songs about sex and cocaine) and patriotism. Or as Chachi put it, "Let's make America America again!" (Was it changed to America Lite at some point and I missed the memo?)
The approach was damned effective, as Trump immediately vaulted seven polling percentage points into a tie with Hillary Clinton by the end of the show.
The Democrats seem to be concentrating on social ills for their convention, although they haven't seemed to notice that those problems are happening with their own party in the White House for eight years.
Immigration activists and mothers of victims of police killing are prominent on the schedule, along with a showcase of past and future stars of the party.
Strangely, the strategic approach of each party seems precisely the same - not to promote their own candidate, but to scare the county into voting against the nominee of the other, who would surely mean the end of the world if they were to win.
Republicans booed Ted Cruz for not endorsing nominee Trump in his speech. And Democrats booed Bernie Sanders for endorsing Hillary in his pre-convention speech. Cruz seemed to be setting himself up for another campaign in four years at Trump's expense, and Sanders seemed like a man who had forged a revolution he now can't stop.
One more similarity I notice about the two conventions: Donald Trump was introduced by his his daughter Ivanka, and Hillary Clinton is to be introduced by her daughter Chelsea. And more than a few of us are thinking to ourselves, hey I kinda wish we were voting for those daughters instead of the parents.
Time to see what the Democrats have to offer, and whether they have a Chachi to pull out of their hat.
National conventions were once hotbeds of issues and debate, but wall-to-wall TV coverage put an end to that. They are now more week-long commercial, nearly as much about entertainment as politics, and above all else, their purpose is to present a united front, even if behind the curtain, it's not all that united at all (we hear one Iowa delegate walked out on the RNC.)
Still, they are amazing spectacles, glitzy, overblown celebrations of democracy. At their best moments (sorry, take a step back Chachi) they make us think, and appreciate our opportunity so rare in this world to help choose and shape our own destiny.
The party business and division of delegates could as easily be accomplished in 10 minutes by smart phone today, but these big, unwieldy events - brash and braggadocious as the may be - are also very American.
I sure hope we always have them.