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Hail to the Chief   By: (1927-1987)

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BY SAM AND JANET ARGO A great politician need not be a statesman ... but it is inherently futile to be a great statesman, and no politician. Except, of course, for a miracle ...

The tumult in Convention Hall was a hurricane of sound that lashed at a sea of human beings that surged and eddied around the broad floor. Men and women, delegates and spectators, aged party wheelhorses and youngsters who would vote for the first time that November, all lost their identities to merge with that swirling tide. Over their heads, like agitated bits of flotsam, pennants fluttered and placards rose and dipped. Beneath their feet, discarded metal buttons that bore the names of two or three "favorite sons" and those that had touted the only serious contender against the party's new candidate were trodden flat. None of them had ever really had a chance.

The buttons that were now pinned on every lapel said: "Blast 'em With Cannon!" or "Cannon Can Do!" The placards and the box shaped signs, with a trifle more dignity, said: WIN WITH CANNON and CANNON FOR PRESIDENT and simply JAMES H. CANNON.

Occasionally, in the roar of noise, there were shouts of "Cannon! Cannon! Rah! Rah! Rah! Cannon! Cannon! Sis boom bah!" and snatches of old popular tunes hurriedly set with new words:

On with Cannon, on with Cannon! White House, here we come! He's a winner, no beginner; He can get things done! (Rah! Rah! Rah!)

And, over in one corner, a group of college girls were enthusiastically chanting:

He is handsome! He is sexy! We want J. H. C. for Prexy!

It was a demonstration that lasted nearly three times as long as the eighty five minute demonstration that had occurred when Representative Matson had first proposed his name for the party's nomination.

Spatially, Senator James Harrington Cannon was four blocks away from Convention Hall, in a suite at the Statler Hilton, but electronically, he was no farther away than the television camera that watched the cheering multitude from above the floor of the hall.

The hotel room was tastefully and expensively decorated, but neither the senator nor any of the other men in the room were looking at anything else except the big thirty six inch screen that glowed and danced with color. The network announcer's words were almost inaudible, since the volume had been turned way down, but his voice sounded almost as excited as those from the convention floor.

Senator Cannon's broad, handsome face showed a smile that indicated pleasure, happiness, and a touch of triumph. His dark, slightly wavy hair, with the broad swathes of silver at the temples, was a little disarrayed, and there was a splash of cigarette ash on one trouser leg, but otherwise, even sitting there in his shirt sleeves, he looked well dressed. His wide shoulders tapered down to a narrow waist and lean hips, and he looked a good ten years younger than his actual fifty two.

He lit another cigarette, but a careful scrutiny of his face would have revealed that, though his eyes were on the screen, his thoughts were not in Convention Hall.

Representative Matson, looking like an amazed bulldog, managed to chew and puff on his cigar simultaneously and still speak understandable English. "Never saw anything like it. Never. First ballot and you had it, Jim. I know Texas was going to put up Perez as a favorite son on the first ballot, but they couldn't do anything except jump on the bandwagon by the time the vote reached them. Unanimous on the first ballot."

Governor Spanding, a lantern jawed, lean man sitting on the other side of Senator Cannon, gave a short chuckle and said, "Came close not t' being unanimous... Continue reading book >>

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