Arthur Godfrey Road cuts a path into Miami Beach past the Moulin Rouge's neon invitation to "Have Your Next Affair Here," past the ubiquitous Howard Johnson's Motor Lodge, past the Eden Roc Hotel with its plaster version of the Winged Victory of Samothrace crated for protection against radicals and art vandals. After the turn up Collins Avenue, the road ends at the Doral, McGovern Headquarters and purveyors of bathrooms so mirrored as to enable Frank Mankiewicz to view the performance of all his major biological functions simultaneously from four different angles.
The Democratic Party followed this path last week, and Miami provided the setting for a collection of political bedfellows unparalleled in its diversity. Richard Daley fumed in Chicago while Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffmann galloped over the convention floor as fully accredited representatives of Mad and Popular Mechanics. Marlo Thomas pushed very hard in order to get a picture of Hubert Humphrey. Jesse Jackson walked the corridors with Wallace delegates. Norman Mailer, Gloria Steinem, Jimmy Breslin. Germaine Greer, Robert (UNCLE) Vaughan, all these as well as unprecedented numbers of blacks, women, and young delegates converged in the same hall. The gathering prompted incredulity, like that experienced by the peach-slacked Miami matron who walked her sequined-collared toy poodle into the midst of the SDS march to confront the Democratic National Committee: "This can't be happening here. This is Miami Beach."
This convention was run with unaccustomed efficiency, dignity, and remarkably little circus. By the time Edward Kennedy had delivered the finest speech of his career in introduction of the equally eloquent, if folksier. Senator McGovern, the Democratic Party had passed a turning point in its history. The delegates linked arms and sang "We Shall Overcome," an inspiring tribute to the event, the mood, the unity they had created from the wreckage of Chicago.
The night before, after the nomination had been made official, Frank Mankiewicz returned from the convention hall and threw open the door to McGovern's suite, bellowing: "Senator, it was a TRIP AND A HALF."
A trip and a half.