IRVINE — The Democratic show starts tomorrow--at least the public version. Good Republicans seeking entertainment, enlightenment, renewed energy and even possible encouragement are invited to attend by tuning in to the convention. What to look for: the unexpected. Democratic Chairman Paul Kirk and his associates want to control and stage-manage what you see on prime-time television. This is less censorship than common sense. Meanwhile, on the other side of the coin, the media--particularly the "gotcha" journalists--will be trying to look behind the curtain, in the wings and on the streets for the real story. This is partly a game and the viewer is the beneficiary of each player's efforts.
Many things might happen, could happen or will happen; how they are handled--or presented--could be important for November and may add additional targets of opportunity for George Bush and his gang of merry archers.
The continuing saga of Jesse Jackson will play out through the week. Jackson is still a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination and he--plus his supporters--are certain to remind the world of that reality.
The demeanor of the convention, the behavior of delegates, will send a message to the viewing public. If the proceedings are boring and speakers behave according to script, that may not be bad for the sometimes contentious Democrats. Substance will also count. If the carefully crafted draft platform is modified from vague harmless statements to real promises of action in areas not especially popular with middle America, then Republicans will have more ammunition to fire off in the fall at Michael S. Dukakis. Phrases such as "reduced defense expenditures," "increased spending" or "raising taxes and revenue" would be most welcome and could go a long way in tearing the assiduously cultivated, penny-pinching image off "liberal Mike."