YES, YOU'VE READ them, and so have I, those stories with their undercurrent of mirth about the possibility of Washington's being the Democrats' 1984 convention city.
I am sure that, like me, you have been sorely tried by amused outsiders who tell you that it would be like having a human rights convention in Moscow.
We all know why so many people think it is so funny that Washington would presume to compete with beautiful, windswept San Francisco in mid-July. I admit that our weather in mid-July is not our strongest point. But since when have Democrats, of all people, been reduced to talking about the weather.
The reason they smirk is the assumption that just because Ronald Reagan says Washington exemplifies a burden that must be gotten off the country's back that it is necessarily so.
Reagan is not the first president to say that this is a breeding ground of bureaucrats, whose only diligence is directed at tormenting honest citizens with forms to fill out, regulations to obey and crackbrained schemes for improving the lot of mankind, which ultimately always come down to harassing big business, encouraging laziness, wantoness and greed among people who, if they did not have the public trough to dip their snouts in, would go out and get jobs.
Nor will he be the last.
I think the Democrats are to be commended for taking that particular bull by the horns and boldly proclaiming that Washington is not the problem, but the solution. After all, their platform will surely say that the central government can do good things like educating the young, comforting the old and promoting equity among the races and classes.
It is not so wild a dream to propose receiving 20,000 delegates, alternates, reporters and hangers-on. Throw in Virginia and Maryland, and we can offer 34,000 hotel rooms. Our convention center is of appropriately cavernous, and we have a subway system that is beyond compare.
What other mayor can say what Marion Barry said, when asked by a wondering site committee how come nobody writes on the walls of our underground: "We don't allow that there." On our metro, you read your paper, not the graffitti. New York, eat your heart out.
We can make other claims about the quality of life here that I would defy any other contending city to match.
Who else can offer documented evidence that we have bus drivers who will open the doors of the bus once they have been closed? Nobody has made us hold our heads up higher than Jane White, who wears the livery of our Transit Authority. Her kind often, as we know, get their jollies from slamming the doors shut just as the would-be passenger, who has defied death and traffic pants up to the stop.
Not so here. Our Jane White swung wide the portals to someone who had already gotten off the bus, someone who did not want to know how to get to the Smithsonian or the zoo -- the young man had already been there, it turns out. He wanted to know what to do about a snakebite.
Did Ms. White retort that she was the Queen of Sheba? No. She listened, she looked -- and noticed two small, blood-stained punctures on his shoulder. She radioed the police for help.
I will not recount here how it came about that two Gaboon vipers were riding, free, on the L-4. The story is a local epic, the talk of a town that proudly points out that our police force immediately coughed up a snake handler named Ray Harper, a man of preternatural skill and presence of mind, who got the snake snatcher to the hospital on the double, and the snakes, too, for a venon check.
You're telling me a snake handler wouldn't be useful at a political convention?
Our detractors sneer that, being seven blocks away from Capitol Hill, the convention would be immobilized by the presence of so many Congresspeople. Nobody, they cackle, would get nominated. The apprehension is understandable. The lawmakers debated a nuclear freeze last week, just as they had debated it the week before and will debate it again next week. They may be still at it in mid-July.
The solution is easy. Declare a recess -- nothing so galvanizes those in Congress. They will bolt for the doors, leaving the serious people behind to choose the ticket.
Don't listen to people who say ours is a city populated exclusively by soulless transients, incapable of enthusiasm. That's ignorant blather from strangers who did not witness our superfrenzy when the Redskins won the Super Bowl. Tell our folks running back John Riggs is in the running, or even in the hall, and they'll make the inhabitants of other cities look like zombies.
Nobody, in short, should be amused at our presumptions.