I’ve got those now-that-it’s-over, what-did-it-all-mean
Let’s have a show of hands from those who think political conventions
are must-see TV. Now, how many feel they lost their relevance when
cars lost fins?
Actually, we don’t need a show of hands. The public has already
decided. Nobody’s watching.
The TV ratings for conventions of either party have been in a nose
dive for decades. Example: 23 percent fewer people saw Mitt Romney
accept the Republican nomination last week than tuned in on John
McCain four years earlier.
Oh, sure, the Social Media numbers are on the rise. But that’s mostly
small talk. Nobody attempts an informed discussion on Social Security
funding in a 140-character tweet.
The fact is that conventions have been reduced to a three-day
cocktail party occasionally interrupted by explosive bursts of
political hot air. The real business of selecting a candidate is
being done where it should be: at the ballot box.
That’s a win for democracy but a loss for drama. It’s hard to hold an
audience when everyone knows the ending.
Meanwhile, it cost north of $130 million (much of which is provided
by taxpayers) to stage the conventions this year.
Why continue? Primarily, it seems, to rally the troops, to give TV
face time to promising candidates and to adopt a platform.
There’s also a chance that they might snare some voter who has
accidently channel-surfed his way on to CNN.
The Republicans tried everything to make it interesting this year by
staging a three-act comedy: Clint Eastwood grumbled at an empty
chair, mystifying and mortifying the audience in the process; New
Jersey Gov. Chris Christie by one count used the word "I" 37 times,
"Romney" seven times, and "jobs" one time; Paul Ryan, like Pinocchio,
watched his nose grow with each fib. Or maybe it was his ears.
The Democrats seemed to be enjoying themselves, seemingly unaware of
their tenuous hold on the White House. First Lady Michelle Obama was
a rock star. Bill Clinton conducted a master’s class in speech making
and did a better job of explaining President Obama’s policies than
But was anyone listening? More people watched the Dallas-New York
football game Wednesday night than the Democratic convention. And like the
Republicans, the Democrat’s ratings were lower than they were in 2008.
What both parties ought to do is have a one-day gala, a political
blow-out lasting, say, four hours in length. Play a little music,
toss a little confetti, wave a few signs, bring on the keynote
speaker and the candidates for the presidency then drop the balloons.
Want to spice it up a bit? Have both parties occupy the same
Speaking of change, one thing both parties could do to better capture
the hearts and minds of voters is to put a lid on celebrity
This applies doubly to the Republicans. What is it about the Grand
Old Party that brings out the whacko in people?
Take Chuck Norris for instance. Applying the same skill to political
forecasting that he does to acting, Chuck warned this past week that
America faces "1,000 years of darkness" if President Obama is
Singer Hank Williams Jr. recently summed up his feelings this way:
“We’ve got a Muslim for a President who hates cowboys, hates
cowgirls, hates fishing, hates farming, loves gays, and we hate him!”
Last year, he compared the President to Hitler, a comment that cost
him his opening act gig on Monday Night Football. At this rate he’ll
be making a living playing bar mitzvahs in El Paso.
Rocker Ted Nugent said earlier this year that “If Barack Obama
becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in
jail by this time next year," We can only hope.
Add to the GOP boosters Gene Simmons of KISS fame, Kid Rock who
actually had Mitt Romney on stage with him in the ultimate strange
bedfellows pairing, and Vince McMahon of the World Wresting
Federation, who has brought us so many memorable moments.
Is this really the image the Republicans want to project?
Of course, the Democrats have Sean Penn and Jane Fonda. And don’t
forget the Dixie Chicks and Lady Gaga. Not to mention Jerry Springer
and Maury Povich (all of whom have endorsed President Obama).
There’s plenty of embarrassment to go around.
Meanwhile, we hold our breath awaiting the endorsements of Gary Busey
and Charlie Sheen.