A large man sat at the bar in the convention hall, a miniature, red party hat clinging to his head. Confetti was scattered all over the floor.
"Must have been a heck of a party," I said.
"It was grand," he said, smiling ruefully. He picked up a half-empty bottle of warm champagne and chugged.
"What happened?" I asked.
"We lost focus. We lost sight of the principles that brought us to power back in '94."
"Ah, yes, the Contract with America. Commonsense ideas designed to rein in abuse and waste."
"We were effective at the beginning," he said defensively. "We transformed America's welfare system and got millions off the dole."
"That was a doozie."
"We restrained spending. During Clinton's presidency, we not only shrank the deficit, but we created massive surpluses."
"But federal spending, according to The Heritage Foundation, has risen 45 percent during Bush's presidency three times faster than under Clinton," I said.
"It's not all our fault," the fat man replied. "You got to give things to voters to maintain power."
"Was it maintaining or abusing power?" I asked. "You gave us lobbyist scandals and accepted old-boy perks. You've rigged your districts to snuff out competition. No wonder, according to Gallup, Congress' approval rating is 24 percent."
The fat man took a big gulp from the bottle.
"But Iraq is a mess and that hurts us," he said. "Americans want change. Democrats benefit by default."
"There's something worse than the war in Iraq. It's that you've lost your guts," I said. "Our borders are more porous than Ted Kennedy's liver, but you've done little. Spending has long been out of control, so you spend more."
I reached for a pitcher of water and dumped it over his head.
"Hey!" he said, his eyes finally wide open.
"Wake up!" I said. "Republicans deserve to get creamed this election. But unfortunately that would require Democrats to win. And if Democrats win, America loses."
He was attentive now. I could see it in his eyes.
"Democrats will try to raise taxes," I continued, "and if they succeed we can kiss our booming economy goodbye."
"I remember now," said the fat man. "Low taxes unleash growth and prosperity."
"Democrats want all kinds of wacky new programs. They'll try to spend more than you nitwits have been spending."
"I remember. Fiscal responsibility reduces the deficit. That's good for the economy, too."
"But worst of all, most Democrats are weak on defense. Their party has been taken over by the fringe left. They don't think America is at war. They'll appease the extremists who intend to massacre us maybe with nukes unless we stop them."
"I remember. Republicans have made missteps in the war on terror we sure could have planned things better but at least we're aware of our threats. At least we'll be aggressive."
"Yeah, and America needs leadership badly," I replied. "We need leaders who can unify us to clarify what we're really up against. As pathetic as Republicans have been, Democrats will be even worse. You're going to have to step up and remember how to lead."
"So what do we do next?" asked the fat man.
"A Reuters/Zogby poll shows that 19 percent of voters haven't made up their minds yet," I said. "You have one last shot to get back to the basics one last shot to show voters that this time the alternative is even worse than what you guys have been."
I walked over to him with a damp rag and wiped guacamole dip off his lapel. I buttoned his shirt and tightened his tie.
"Now get moving!" I said.
The fat man slid off the stool and stumbled toward the exit. His suit was rumpled; a piece of toilet paper clung to his shoe.
As pathetic as it is, the fellow and his party are still better than Democrats, at least where America's safety and future are concerned.