When conventions were fun…

Supped out last night with some friends and one of them, a political maven, greeted me with,

“have you been watching the convention? It’s such garbage! Remember when it used to be fun? You’d have gavel-to-gavel coverage, you’d get to watch the platform fight – the roll call – it was great fun and you really got to see these people in action. It’s all so scripted and polished and safe, now.”

Understand, this pal is a true TV News junkie – much more so than I ever was. She has always watched the Sunday Gasbag programs; she’s been addicted to nightly news and cable news for as long as I have known her.

When her oldest was 3 or 4 years old he used to wander around the house growling out, ala Chris Matthews, “yer watching Hardball!”

She is a passionate observer of history; she knows everything about both the Kennedy clan and the Reagans, she can quote obscure lines from Hubert Humphrey, Adlai Stevenson and Barry Goldwater. She follows the dense stories everyone else gives up on.

This is a woman who does not need to be coaxed into watching a political showcase; she’s there for it – no matter what the party – but she is completely underwhelmed by what is being presented on television, in the papers and even online, in this election cycle. If SHE is not watching the convention, then the press has a problem.

I confessed to my friend that I had not tuned into the convention much at all; partly because we only have one television in this house and the young adults were involved in a “Dexter” marathon of their own creation, and partly because I find so much of it tedious and time-wasting Why invest hours in a PR event, when you can get the highlights from blogs and youtube? I don’t feel an overwhelming need to experience all of this “as it happens.”

“Besides,” I told her, “it doesn’t sound like – up til now – there has been much worth watching, besides the hissy fits and adolescent dramatics of Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews.”

“Oh, gawd, those two are unwatchable,” my friend said. “I used to love Chris Matthews and now he’s just this sniveling little crankpot. And Olbermann is unhinged. They’re eating each other over there, with Scarborough and Schuster taking tabs on who’ll emerge on top, and fighting for scraps. And they’re SO in the tank for Obama, they’re not even trying to hide it any more! I’ve never seen anything like it!”

We moved on to a discussion of a local school board issue, which was – in the end – more interesting to talk about than Limbaugh, Obama, Saul Alinsky, McCain’s veep or whether – as one of my Irish auntie’s has long-claimed – Joe Biden really did have doll hair implants.

Today’s email brought this from another friend:

Amazing to watch Bill Clinton wag his finger at the audience again. I think this is most important – Bill Clinton revealed the denial which prevails on the Democrat Partisan mindset, when he said ‘we brought you peace and prosperity’ in reference to his tenure in the 1990’s.

The Problem remains for the Democrats who fail to recognize that there wasn’t peace (that Bill Clinton’s claim is a big fat lie), as Al Qaeda repeatedly attacked an killed Americans at will, and the Clinton negligently ignored the threats enabling the danger.

Well, that’s true. I wrote a long time ago that “Clintonian peace” meant “Al Qaeda attacks us or our interests about every 18 months and we ignore it, until they get so emboldened that they figure they can attack us on our soil.” Clinton didn’t push the Kyoto treaty, either but people forget that.

This friend is also very perturbed at how easily the press has managed – over the last 8 years – to completely distort the realities of Bush’s presidency. He sent me this excellent summation of what has beentrue or false within the Bush presidency, and I thanked him for that. For a while I have felt like I am the only one willing to defend the president (I sometimes get emails from the left accusing me of being Barbara Bush, which is amusing) so it is really good to see others putting some facts down on paper. I doubt anyone will otherwise remember – in light of all the economic gloom-and-dooming by the press – what the realities have been. Does anyone even know that recession the press has been predicting, claiming and wrapping itself around for the past two years is still on hold as the GDP just increased by 3.3%? (Interestingly, the headline and the first two paragraphs on that economic story has changed as I’ve written this piece; it was initially a “good news” headline, with a positive lede. Now it is a “bad news” headline, with a negative lede, because as we know – there will be no good news allowed out until President Bush is out of office.)

But you know – the truth is, history will tell us more about Bush’s presidency – or Clinton’s – than any screeds or polemics. We should concern ourselves more with the men before us, McCain and Obama, and what seems to be a growing issue of free speech (and even media intimidation) in America.

McCain has his weaknesses, and they are many and some are pretty troubling, but he also has some serious strengths but – as near as I can tell – he is not trying to intimidate and shut down dissent the way Team Obama seems to be.

Hey, we’ve heard for 8 years that “dissent is the highest form of patriotism” – is that only true when the president has an R after his name?

Nancy Pelosi wants to limit the means by which congress can use alternative media. Others – apparently connected to Clintons – are blocking the DVD release of the ABC film, The Path to 9/11.

Olbermann, apparently miffed to have MSNBC allowing any perspective but his own on that network, tried to “wrap up” the commentary of a former McCain operative, who dared to suggest that the Clintons will vote for McCain, not Obama. (Matthews – taking the high road – groused that this fellow was ‘hanging his reputation as a pundit’ on the claim, which cracked me up. As though pundits have exemplary reputations, as though none of them have ever said anything equally, if not more, provocative!)

We’ve heard for 8 years that Bush is a “Nazifascist.” Right after 9/11, Tim Robbins warned the nation about the “chill wind” that was blowing throughout the nation, stifling free speech. He preached it, he wrote a play about it…and ironically, no one ever shut him up or shut him down for it. Because it was a false claim.

Now, we’re seeing real efforts to shut down the free speech of real people daring to dissent, or daring to ask uncomfortable questions. Al Gore wants no questions about Global Warming; he told the press to stop reporting dissenting views. Obama wants no questions about his past associations with domestic terrorists. His wife quotes Saul Alinksy, but there is “no story” there.

I enjoyed our supper last night, but I came home and the television was free, but I still was not interested in turning the thing on.

Instead, I recorded a podcast of morning prayer. Praying felt like a much more important and productive use of time, than sitting around watching illusionists, ego-maniacs and petty tyrants parade before us.

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