Democracy is So Confusing
May 7, 2008
As Lance Mannion points out, the biggest problem with a floor fight at the Democratic National Convention would be the media twinkies assigned to — how do they put it? — “cover” the story. Wide-open conventions used to be familiar things back in the day, but nowadays the likes of Tim Russert expect and prefer national party conventions to be quadrennial pageants with the spontaneity of Noh plays. Kind of like the Miss American competition, only with hairy legs.
What would look like democracy in all its glory in action to political junkies like me would look to most normal people like a great big sleep-depriving mess. And the convention is not going to be covered on TV by the likes of Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley, who would have enjoyed the fun and been careful and smart about explaining what was going on down there on the floor and backstage. It’s going to be covered by Tim Russert and Brian Williams and Charles Gibson and the gasbags from Fox News and MSNBC, all of whom will gleefully tell us how bad all this looks and how it shows the Democrats at their divided, divisive, disorganized, discombobulated, indecisive, internecine worst.
A week later they’ll be up in Minneapolis “reporting” on how orderly and united the Republicans are and how the smooth running of their convention shows that the GOP is still the party of the stern daddies who know how to keep their kids in line while those indulgent mommies in the Democratic party let their spoiled brats run wild and how it proves that the Maverick and Commander is in COMMAND.
It’s too bad that the conventions have become nothing more than a week-long free campaign ad for the candidates, but that’s the way it is and it’s not going to change. I want our Obama ad to be every bit as pretty as their McCain ad will be.
The messy outbreak of democracy now going on with the Democrats is exactly the kind of thing that frightens and confuses media twinkies. All that procedural stuff to master! All those names to remember! And no guarantee of good visuals! How can the networks expect to keep people in their seats, ready to see the next Kaopectate commercial, if the party can’t provide good visuals at the top of each news cycle?
Time to hunt around for my VHS copy of The Best Man, based on Gore Vidal’s play about two candidates, one slithering (Cliff Robertson), the other dithering (Henry Fonda), duking it out for the party’s presidential nomination. Maybe MoveOn should organize a mass DVD burning drive to get copies of the flick into the hands of TV journalists, if only to remind them of those halcyon days when newscasters weren’t judged by the quality of their haircuts, but by the quality of the brains under those haircuts.