Five Things to Watch for at the DNC

Democrats, Politics — By on August 25, 2008 at 10:39 pm

By John Mark Reynolds
Chatting about expectations is a political junky’s game. Looking for a fix of actual news at the Convention, you will hear many things about the Democratic National Convention (DNC) most of which will turn out to be false in retrospect. For sane voters–most of whom will watch the Biden and Obama speeches and little else–the substance and the abiding visuals of the Convention are what will matter most.
There are five things to look for at the DNC (and just after) which will tell you whether the Convention was a success.
First, follow the Clinton money after the convention.
The idiotic spin that the Convention is about unity is setting a bar so low that the DNC cannot fail. The Clinton machine cannot afford to look like they killed Senator Obama. They will back him with loud words. This will be viewed as “success.” You could get rich if a friend would give you a dollar for every time a podium speaker says “this party is united.”
Bluntly, any large scale disunity visible to the viewer would so doom Obama that one must assume he will have it in check.
How do you know if real unity is achieved? Look for the small stories right after the DNC that talk about whether Clinton donors have opened up their wallets. If not, there is no real unity and the Clinton apparatus is trying to quietly knife Obama.
Second, look for the killer visual error that the old media loves immediately but which the new media turns clownish.
The best example is John Kerry coming to the podium with a salute. This looked good at the moment, but did not wear well with repeat viewings. Pols and their helpers still plan Convention tricks for the pre-video on demand era. They do things that look good once, but look silly on repeat viewings. It is the difference between the ability of the Old Star Trek to run in a stunt double for Kirk which they could assume that nobody would catch in one quick viewing (and nobody thought much about syndication then) versus the Whedonesque (Buffy, Angel) assumption that each episode would be viewed many, many times.
Think wedding videos. Hammy and “of the moment” ceremonies wear very badly (become camp!) on repeat viewing. Oddly, highly controlled traditional ceremonies wear well. Obama better find a Cranmer fast to control any desire to look “trendy” or do “cool” things at the Convention that end up looking (after a few weeks) like Mom’s “Princess Moonbeam” dress or Dad’s leisure suit in the old wedding pix.
Today you must run your Convention with the viral video in mind. No hammy salutes or chants that look good the first time but cloy on repeated viewings.
Third, count the references to the Clinton administration in non-Clinton speeches versus self-referential praise in Clinton speeches.
Many words of praise of Clinton governance (not just to the Clintons personally or to the “hard fought” primary campaign) in the “other guys” speeches means healing has happened on the Obama side. Will Obama praise the nineties? Ignoring the governance (as opposed to the personality of Clinton) will make Bill very mad and means there is still anger on the Obama side.
Many references to how Clinton governed in the Clinton speeches (where the Obama folk would like them eliminated) means healing has not happened on the Clinton side. President Clinton is his administration and Senator Clinton is his stand-in, so if the He and the She still feel the need to point out that they ruled well, then both are angry.
Their anger will kill Obama in places like Pennsylvania.
Fourth, wait for Biden to say something stupid.
If he doesn’t, Senator Obama is saved until the next time we notice Biden . . . which may not be until the Veep debates.
If he does, Senator Obama will look very bad for passing on Senator Clinton at just the wrong time.
Finally, the most important moment of the Convention, perhaps the only important moment, is the speech by Senator Obama.
Here we can assume that Obama will get the speech just right . . . but that the choice of venue is his big problem. He may not be able to solve it. The immediate visuals will be great and the television talking heads will praise them, but the totalitarian Olympic spectacle that just ended is a big problem for Senator Obama. He may not be able to win with the long term visual impact of his choice to speak in a stadium.
Republicans should pray for a loud and hyperactive audience of Obama acolytes who begin the weird “O-ba-ma, O-ba-ma” cry early and often. McCain’s best coup of the campaign so far (other than the Biden pick) was to turn that chant into a cue to the American people of “celebrity worship.”
People forget political speeches. They will not forget seventy-odd thousand adoring leftists. The speech in the stadium made no sense when he first announced it, but now it is a McCain commercial waiting to happen. Success for Obama will be giving a speech to an intent stadium that is enthusiastic without being weird. Success is few if any camera shots of young adults for Obama with cult-like adoration. Success is getting out the stadium as quickly as possible.



  • John Mark Reynolds

    Sorry for a run of political posts from me . . it will not be usual here . . . but it is Convention time.
    (And you will not usually have to put up with me anyway! Just doing some filling in . . .)

  • John Mark Reynolds

    Day One Summary:
    1. Very dull until. . .
    2. Michelle Obama who did the Senator proud. She was very good. I like the Obama family and always have. More of this . . .and less hubris on his part (why oh why is he going to that stadium) and he would be on his way to a great Convention.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Who the hell are you and what basement are you keeping Joe tied up in!

  • tommy

    Why does it feel like a protest rally more than a Convention? Ted Kennedy does nothing for me and Michelle Obama with her 4 million dollars a year trying to explain she knows how us poor people feel did not cut it. The Democratic party of today looks more and more like hollywood

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    The Democratic party of today looks more and more like hollywood
    Meanwhile McCain appears on Jay Leno yet again.
    Ted Kennedy does nothing for me
    Well the man lost one brother in service to the country, another brother serving as President and another running for President and he will most likely never live to see another convention again. No doubt he rarely advocated policies you supported but you’re right, his top priority should be you.
    Michelle Obama with her 4 million dollars a year trying to explain she knows how us poor people feel did not cut it

  • Robski

    “Michelle Obama with her 4 million dollars a year trying to explain she knows how us poor people feel did not cut it.”
    You’ll like Cindy McCain much better. Last time I saw her on TV, I thought I’d stumbled upon a Mummy of Barbie movie. When I recognized her as John McCain’s mate the visual imagery I fought not to imagine was far more horrifying than any B-movie could be. Try turning down the sound and cranking up a horror soundtrack when she comes on; that’ll make it easier to forget that John McCain dumped his loyal wife of 14 years to marry his rich 18-years-younger(!) mistress.

  • EricR11

    Let’s see, at least with Obama there is no indication of leaving an ailing and hospitalized first wife (and family) for a richer younger heiress even before a legal divorce was granted. At least with Obama there is no indication that other POWs still in Vietnam should just be left to rot and forgotten about until their remains are brought back in bodybags 20 years later…
    …and at least with Obama there is evidence that Christianity was a conscious, deliberate choice made on his part from inner reflection, and not conveniently pilfered from someone else’s story at the last minute to hide behind, because it would sound or look good right in order to get elected. Make no mistake – Obama is an imperfect human being with faults, like all of us. But I find many many more troubling questions about the sincerity and character of John McCain once you begin to look at the man, the life he has led, and his continuing ignorance of its effect on those around him.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Well to be fair I don’t think McCain ‘left POWs to rot’. Through the 80′s there was a belief that Vietnam had kept some POWs behind but nothing was ever proven. In all major wars there are cases where soldiers are killed and their remains are never discovered so unfortunately we will never have a full accounting of all of Vietnam’s MIAs. I believe there is an active effort to locate and return remains not only of Vietnam soldiers but also soldiers from other wars like Korea.

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