Friday, August 15, 2008

'The human cauldron'

Rick Moran wonders what mischief Hillary's supporters might cause at the Denver convention and (on page two) Moran captures a famous moment from conventions past:
But the [1912 Republican] convention itself was one for the ages, as delegates scuffled and Taft floor whips vainly tried to control what soon got out of control. Noted Kansas editor William Allen White . . . wrote as he surveyed the proceedings that he was looking down "into the human cauldron that was boiling all around me." The tension was palpable between TR's progressives and Taft's regular Republicans. And when most of Roosevelt's delegates abstained at TR's request to protest the raw deal, Taft waltzed off with the nomination.
Gorious. 'Tis a shame we live in such a time where Vanilla is the preferred flavor of politicians and Rocky Road is banned from our convention menu.
Frankly, the Republicans bear most of the blame for the vanilla-fication of conventions. In 1972, Richard Nixon's campaign led the way by orchestrating the Miami convention as a made-for-TV spectacle, with absolutely zero spontanaeity. Reagan's re-election campaign in 1984, and George Bush's 1988 campaign, did the same thing. The Democrats emulated the superior stagecraft of the Republicans and began organizing their own scripted snoozefests.

What's interesting is that, the more the parties have orchestrated their conventions with TV in mind, the more the broadcast networks have scaled back their coverage, complaining that no one wants to watch. Maybe they could do some sort of reality-TV deal: Convention Island, or Who Wants to Be the President?

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