The US Presidential Elections: Convention Diary: 'Potatoe Kid' gets a lesson in spelling

THE Democratic faithful have confessed their liberal sins of the past, pledged themselves to a new life of middle-of-the-road righteousness, and the church doors of Madison Square Garden are swinging shut. Political worship in the US, especially at conventions, is always something of a religious experience. Take the best orators of this week, and all, except perhaps the New York Governor, Mario Cuomo, lent heavily on Biblical reference and priestly cadence to stir their congregation.

The Rev Jesse Jackson is the best qualified, of course, but Bill Clinton, in his acceptance speech, offered what he calls his 'New Covenant' for America and repeatedly intoned the refrain: 'Where there is no vision, the people perish'. Behind him on the podium, incidentally, sat the Rev Vic Nixon, the United Methodist minister who married Bill and Hillary in 1975.

South of the Garden, a shop offering Christian collectables, Altar Egos, had apparently decided that the Republicans were more deserving of heavenly blessing. A poster in its window invited delegates to exchange their convention badges for the medal of St Jude - the Patron Saint of Hopeless Causes.

As ever in America, the holiest act of them all is the recital of the Pledge of Allegiance. Even at such a sacred moment, though, the Democrats could not resist the chance for a political shot, with Vice-President Dan Quayle once again the target. The person chosen to deliver the Pledge was 12-year-old William Figueroa, the schoolboy recently prompted by Mr Quayle to misspell potato with an 'e' on the end. Now dubbed the Potatoe Kid, he was introduced to delegates by the Texas Governor, Ann Richards, as 'someone who knows the next President of the United States spells his name C-L-I-N-T-O-N'.

A tough break for all those publishers with big dollars already invested in new books on the Texas quitter, Ross Perot ('What a Wimp' screamed the New York Post headline yesterday). Warner Books has 500,000 copies of Ross Perot in His Own Words on the shelves and Random House has just brought out Ross Perot: The Man Behind the Myth. A Random spokesman, Peter Vertes, was stoic about it. 'That's the risk you take when you do an instant book,' he said.

Opposite the Garden, meanwhile, the Barnes and Noble bookshop has had its windows packed with political thumb-suckers and biographies for passing delegates. Its bestseller of the week: The new Tom Clancy blockbuster, The Sum of All Fears. Aside from the casting of Bill Clinton as the new JFK, his image as a latter-day Elvis has also been played for all it is worth. The official convention directory included 'Mr Elvis Presley', delegate from Memphis, and posters have been on sale all week for dollars 35 (pounds 18) featuring the new US Post Office Elvis stamp with the King's visage replaced by handsome Bill's. No sax-playing on the podium, but the nominee did play a few bars at a post-convention fund-raising night at the Palladium Club.

Numbers played by the band this week included 'Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow' after Mr Clinton's acceptance speech, and Paul Simon's 'You Can Call Me Al' for Al Gore. Jerry Brown's Wednesday night speech was appropriately rounded off with a burst of the old theme from Monty Python's Flying Circus.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Systems and Network Support Analyst

£26000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a rapidly expandi...

Recruitment Genius: IT Systems Support Analyst

£20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a rapidly expandi...

Recruitment Genius: Business Travel Consultant

£20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...

Recruitment Genius: Stock Broker / Trainee Broker / Closer - OTE £250,000

£30000 - £250000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Stock Broker/ Trainee FX, Stoc...

Day In a Page

Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests