Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Conventional Blathering

I watched the Democratic National Convention last night for all of six minutes while the Wife read to the Kid in bed, because while I myself could watch the damn thing gavel-to-gavel, the Wife has made clear that her tolerance for politics on TV extends very little distance past the closing credits of The West Wing. So, this is shaping up to be the election year that I watch the least convention coverage.

Of course, the TV networks have decided not to cover much of the conventions anyway, since it's "not news". Well, gee whiz -- neither is half the crap on the nightly newscasts or on The Today Show, and that sure doesn't seem to bother them. So I'm all for the idea of telling the networks, "You know what, who cares if it's not news. Once every four years our political parties get together and talk to America about what they think. So the days of smoke-filled-rooms producing a nominee who is only nominated on the fortieth ballot are over. Big whoop."

Of course, it has nothing to do with "news" per se; it's about money, since by limiting convention coverage to a tiny amount the networks can still plan out their advertising budgets. But even then I don't care. If they're that worried about lost ad revenue during the conventions, then they can make for it by charging a little more for ad time during the Super Bowl or the Oscars. I mean, it's not like the most important story in America right now actually is a single missing person's case from Utah, but that's what led off The Today Show this morning after they were done summing up the previous evening's business from the Democratic National Convention.

And while I'm mildly griping, I caught a couple minutes of Tim Russert's brilliant analysis this morning. And I mean, this guy is a freaking genius. First the Today folks play this bit of Bill Clinton's speech from last night:

During the Vietnam War, many young men—including the current president, the vice president and me—could have gone to Vietnam but didn’t. John Kerry came from a privileged background and could have avoided it too. Instead he said, send me.

And then Russert says something like, "This was a masterstroke. Bill Clinton included himself in the numbers of men who did not go to Vietnam, like President Bush and Vice President Cheney, and then he noted that John Kerry went."

Wow. I guess that's how you get to be Washington's most important political analyst: by possessing uncommonly keen powers of summarization.

(Yeah, Russert's from Buffalo and a Bills fan. But the guy makes me shake my head every time he opens his mouth.)

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