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Monday, July 26, 2004

Something's happening in Boston this week. You've no doubt heard about it. Some sort of photo -op or press conference or something. Yes, the Democrats are throwing themselves a little send-off party for John & John, and since this only happens every four years, we at Days decided we may as well spend a little time on it. Yes, your newscasts will be filled this week with images of balloons, balloons, confetti and more balloons; we're thinking Convention organizers are probably planning to use a red, white and blue color scheme for the festivities, but that's just a guess.

Now, we don't want to kill the suspense and give away the ending of this 4-day Democratic extravaganza, but we believe you'll see a man named John Kerry nominated to take on George W. Bush in the November presidential elections; you may even see him speak on Thursday night.

Ok, ok, we all know what's happening in Boston this week - we've known for months, there is absolutely no element of surprise. The days of back-room dealings, convention uncertainties and fistfights are long gone, which has prompted many pundits to question whether the conventions are even necessary anymore. As much as we've heard about the candidates, the speakers and the issues to be addressed this week in Boston, we've probably heard more about the unprecedented security operation underway, the fast-becoming infamous protest pens, or the headache residents of the city are having to endure just to get to their jobs.

Nope, don't expect to see or hear much about policy and platforms this week. The conventions have become 4-day infomercials for the candidates and their parties. The event is a coronation, a celebration of the man as opposed to an examination of his policies. The conventions are a political version of This Is Your Life, which means we won't hear many specifics this week about how Kerry intends to grow jobs, reduce the deficit or rebuild alliances, but we will hear plenty about Kerry and Edward's hair, their wives, their kids and the size of their packages.  

So what do the conventions matter? Are they relevant anymore? Do we need them? My answer is yes. Sure, the conventions don't offer the same amount of substance and depth that they used to, but they are still important. They mark a turning point in the campaign or, more appropriately, a starting point. The conventions are when normal people, who aren't unhealthily obsessed with politics, begin to pay attention. If it weren't for the mid-summer conventions, we'd be bored out of our socks by an endless stream of stump speeches in swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania. I'll take balloons, confetti, funny hats and good hair over that any day. 

Of course, the Democrats have once again fallen victim to poor planning which probably means even the people who normally would tune in at this time will be preoccupied. Someone over at DNC headquarters really should've realized they scheduled their little convention against Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. Man-eating sharks will win out over balloons and confetti any day. It's the Sharks, stupid!

The Democrats kick things off tonight by reaching back into previous administrations to dredge up all the peanut farmers, Internet inventors and dress stainers it can come up with. After a litany of minor speakers who you won't see anywhere but on CSPAN (I mean really, do we need to see Iowa's state secretary of agriculture?), the big boys hit the stage. The Reverend Al will be first up tonight (uh, that's Gore, not Sharpton - he's up Wednesday) to no doubt throw a heap of red meat to the delegates right off the bat. Gore's recent fire-and-brimstone speeches have bordered on the edge of, um, crazy. At least that's what the GOP would have you believe, but if you actually pay attention to what Gore says instead of how he says it, you'll realize why the right-wing media would simply prefer to label him a loon. Tonight, Al will probably tone it down at the behest of the party.

But if Gore does revert to his fiery antics, the DNC has properly prepared to bring the house right back down by scheduling former president Jimmy Carter to speak after him. Apparently, the DNC wanted to give its delegates some time in between interesting speeches to go grab something to drink and maybe take a nap. After Carter, some junior senator from New York introduces former president Bill Clinton, the party's rock star. Naturally, this is the prime-time speech that everyone will be talking about tomorrow (Jimmy Carter? Who's he? Some poet?), but Clinton's appearance coming on the opening night of the convention is no accident - hell, nothing's an accident at this scripted event. But organizers have taken special care I think to make sure the excitement generated by Bubba doesn't overshadow that of the actual candidate, which is why Clinton and Kerry's speeches are three nights apart. That's also the reason Patti Labelle is scheduled to appear tonight, too much excitement!

In the coming days, we'll attempt to break down some of the other speakers scheduled, we may even try to explain who Barack Obama is. But in case we're too liquored up to get to that,  you can get a full schedule of speakers here. Or, for those of us with limited attention spans, check out a condensed and animated version here.

A few other better sources than I for ongoing convention/election coverage:
The Official Party Line (yawn)
CNN's Election Guide
The Nation's David Corn
An unbiased collection of campaign information from Yahoo (my favorite place to start)

If you're only paying attention to the major television networks - ABC, CBS and NBC - you won't see much of anything from the convention. The big media triumvirate will spend no more than six total hours split amongst them covering the convention. Hell, we've spent more time than that here at Days trying to come up with clever headings for our lame-ass entries. For more complete coverage, junkies will have to turn to the likes of CSPAN, CNN or god forbid, FOX News, (please, if you're going to use FOX News as your primary source of campaign information, see this documentary first). Or, if you really want to know what's happening at the conventions, just check into the blogosphere.

Yep, the DNC has been duped by the blogging community into thinking that bloggers are actual, real-life media people (ha!) and has issued press credentials to 35 morons such as myself to cover the convention. NYU's Adam Penenberg recently explored this new development in campaign media coverage in a very entertaining piece from Wired. In it, he asks our favorite blogger, Wonkette, if she thinks the bloggers will be breaking any news at the convention. Her response:

"Breaking news?," Wonkette wrote in a recent e-mail to me. "ldkjflasjflkjsdlkfjlkdsjflksklfdfjkl Sorry, lost control of my hands as I was laughing too hard. Bloggers don't really report to begin with: They filter, they analyze, they collect. Reporting is something you have to leave your laptop to do.... It'll be a new experience for most of them (and me). Best-case scenario is that we make things more interesting by fucking it up somehow." She hopes that bloggers' presence will add spice to the convention, "but unless one of them gets molested by Rob Lowe, I don't know if they will."

We're not sure if this whole blogging-the-convention-thing is a good idea, but we're totally excited to see how many times Wonkette can link ass-fucking to the Democratic convention... actually, you can probably ask any GOP operative what they think of the delegates inside the Fleet Center and get at least one reference to assfuckers, but that's besides the point. By the way, where the hell is my press pass DNC?? I blog dammit!

We know, politics is boring to most people - a lot of them are even Days readers. But even if you can't commit to the whopping six hours of coverage from the TV networks, what's most important is that we participate in November. We don't care if you're Republican or Democrat, just take a little time to do some research (multiple sources encouraged!) and vote in November. Because as Sean Combs says, it's Vote or Die. Damn Diddy, seems a bit extreme doesn't it? We much prefer the sentimet expressed in this one. Yeah, Vote F*cker! 

Register to Vote Here!

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