Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley may have lost his bid to become the nation's first black governor, but it was a trauma that paled in comparison with the roasting he got from his own party here last night.
Here's a sampling:
"Tom Bradley is very supportive of his fellow Democrats wherever they run. When Harold Washington was elected mayor of Chicago, Bradley was so delighted, he sent Washington a congratulatory watermelon," said Robert Guillaume, otherwise know as "Benson" on the ABC sitcom.
"I bet there's not one among the politicians here whose job is as difficult as and demanding as yours is," said Roxie Roker, who plays Helen Willis on the CBS sitcom "The Jeffersons." "After all, who among your colleagues has ever had to spend the night rubbing Rustoleum on the crown jewels because the queen of England had to stand in a downpour of rain."
"During the campaign, people said that Bradley was much too stiff," said Los Angeles City Council member David Cunningham. "They said he needed to loosen up, show people he was warm. Well, the campaign tried that. They put Tom in a windbreaker for a TV spot to walk the beaches. He looked about as warm and comfortable as Richard Nixon walking on the beach in his three-piece suit."
"I don't have much to say about Tom Bradley," said D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, "because Tom Bradley doesn't have much to say."
Barry also offered: "Tom Bradley was on the police force for 21 years and he was known as a humane cop. He didn't arrest anyone for 10 years. The fact was, he was scared."
The Democrats and entertainers had gathered at a $500-a-plate dinner in Bradley's honor at the D.C. Convention Center. Although Bradley has said before he does not like fundraisers, he tolerated this one because the $16,000 raised by the Democratic National Committee will go toward a national registration program for minority candidates.
Of all the black elected officials in the country, one curious question was why roast Tom Bradley, who lost the California governor's race to George Deukmejian last November.
"Why not?" asked Peter Kelly, DNC national finance chairman, who described himself as the "only white roaster" and therefore obligated to be "not only funny, but careful."
"Mayor Bradley is a senior Democratic mayor who also happens to have the good fortune of being black," he said. "And he seems to be the center of attention these days."
Last night's event turned into a pageant, with officials and entertainers and a flexing of black voter muscle.
Presidential candidate John Glenn breezed in from a campaign swing to address the pre-dinner party. He was animated and relaxed and said: "We may be at the hardest part of the whole civil rights struggle. The laws are on the books now. How do you change the hearts and minds of men and women so we all just start living together in our time, not in some future generation? That's what it's all about."
A few minutes later, Glenn said, "I think we're coming close" to a time when a black can win a presidential bid.
"I'm not sure the time is right, I'm not sure it's a winnable situation," said Rep. Mickey Leland (D-Tex.) "But the time is right to get the American people sensitized."
"Someone like Jesse Jackson can do it," said Johnny Ford, mayor of Tuskegee, Ala. "The bottom line is not whether we win or lose, but giving black Americans the opportunity to respect themselves enough to run. I think if the person is well-qualified it would inspire black voter registration and would give us bargaining strength in delegates at the convention."
For $50-a-head, the people's reception before the dinner got standard slabs of cheddar cheese and scallops in a dimly lit room. A rock group played "Eenie, Meenie, Minie, Moe," and potted plants and upside-down red paper umbrellas were hung from the ceiling. The stars of the evening said a few words and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) did a 15-minute walk through.