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October 31, 2006

Culture Maven: Yellow dog Dems with big blue dreams

The guy with the beard and the Western Kentucky accent wore his Sunday best blazer. The lapel button read: “I’m a Yellow Dog Democrat.”Asked the derivation of the term, he replied, “My daddy told me long ago. Our family would vote for a yellow dog if he’s a Democrat.”He’s a believer with the badge to prove it.He was not alone. He and fellow acolytes dressed pretty and went out on the town at the Jefferson Jackson Democratic Dinner last week. They filled the Kentucky Intergalactic Convention Monster, or whatever euphemism they call that concrete monolith these days.They came from Munfordville. They came from Mount Sterling. They came from Fulton, from Somerset, Covington, Waddy and all points between.They were amber, dandelion, lemon, mustard, yolk and many other hues from the same color chart.Some appearing a bit out of place came from the Cherokee Triangle, Okolona and Lake Forest, not knowing what the event really was but willing to fork over $150 to hear the star of the show, a fellow referred to in the program as “President William Jefferson Clinton.”The flax, jonquil and saffron dressed up. They partied down. Tim Krekel and his “Orchestra” — TKO — jammed during what was magnanimously called a “cocktail party” in the antiseptic lobby before the main event. What it really was was a crush of politicos and their minions, meeting and greeting, schmoozing, imbibing, working the room, glad-handing, and generally fine-tuning their hail fellow well met personalities in search of monetary support and votes, or both, while waiting for what seemed like eternity for the doors to open.Which doors were supposed to open at 3:30. (Was this “blue hair special night” at Piccadilly?) Or at 4:00, depending on which ticket you were holding. Some with none at all, only e-mailed receipts, worried whether they’d get by security when the doors finally parted.They did.The entryways opened well after 5. At which time the mob thankfully did not reenact the tragedy of the Who concert in Cincy. Even though the 2,500 souls anxious to get a spot as close to the rostrum as possible in order to feel Clinton’s heat were required to ingress through three doors only. It took a while.     Donkeys turned to cattle.Then it was star time, right?Not so fast, mes freres.Before the main event at festivities such as these, there’s always an undercard. Which the other night consisted of a high school band that marched in wearing tuxedos, then played so softly in the large room that it bothered the glad-handing nary a bit. There was a chorus singing patriotic songs while Kentucky’s very own former Miss America — and wannabe First Lady — rendered patriotic recitations.Where was virtual Elvis doing “American Trilogy” when some understatement was called for?And there were pols, elected and appointed and wanting to become elected and appointed, raising their voices to rouse the rabble. There were guys with toupees and guys with car-salesman slickbacks. There were guys who talked too much. And others who talked way too much.They thanked their county chairmen and cohorts in the legislature and former governors and senators and heaped praise on each other and fawned over themselves, their supporters, wives and family. (“Would my son-in-law stand up, please, and be recognized!”)They talked of victree in November. They told bad jokes at the current GOP governor’s expense. (“They say the governor’s term is four years. I say it should be 1-5.”) They talked about the “five B’s.”Which apparently was a standard stump speech. One judicial candidate paying little attention advised, “I’ve heard the ‘five B’s’ before. More than once.”And all the while other pols ceaselessly worked the crowd.And the canary, goldenrod, maize and sunflower ate it up. Even the intelligent, professional woman at our table who proudly called herself a yellow dog and explained the meaning.Then it was indeed star time.Clinton proved yet again why he’s the most charismatic American politician in decades. One guy’s opinion is that he’s one of the great political speechmakers ever, in the same class as Churchill and Lincoln. The guy is dapper, glib, empirical and oh so very charismatic.The faithful swallowed his message whole.The question was how it would digest alongside the rubber salmon and plastic cheesecake dinner. Contact the writer at cdk@culturemaven.com