Political Convention Notes

First, I should confess that I haven’t seen a great deal of the political conventions this summer. We don’t have cable, so the coverage is fairly limited, and we’re busy, so sitting down in front of the TV isn’t always the most important task at hand.

That being said, I’ve seen some of the proceedings, heard some reports, and read some about the Democrats and Republicans. I have some observations to make.

First, reports of media members applauding for Senator Obama’s speech are troubling. I don’t expect reporters to be unbiased or unopinionated, but to me this seems highly inappropriate. Why, just seven years ago, wasn’t it the late Peter Jennings who refused to wear a flag pin on his lapel after 9/11, because he didn’t want to make it look like his reporting on the war on terror was biased in favor of the United States? I think a reporter can love Obama or McCain and still report objectively, but not if that reporter applauds either one’s speeches.

This isn’t about the conventions as much as it is about the campaigns. The concepts of racism and sexism have become more complicated this year. We all agree that it is racist for a white person to NOT vote for Obama because he is black. But, do we agree that it is racist for a black person TO vote for him for the same reason? Some men didn’t support Hillary, and won’t vote for the McCain ticket because of gender issues. That’s sexist. But, is it sexist for a woman to vote for another woman mostly based on gender? Even more interesting, if a woman doesn’t think a woman should be president or vice president, is she a sexist?

But, back to the conventions. In my opinion, the TV coverage I have seen of the speeches has been quite fair. At the Democrat convention, the camera people seemed to seek out curmudgeonly white guys, and at the Republic convention, they’ve found black people and young women to put on camera. In other words, rather than working to stereotype each party, the TV I’ve watched has seemed to show that there is great diversity in both parties.

Interestingly, I’ve found the PBS coverage and analysis to be quite fair, while the commercial network coverage I’ve seen has looked like an effort is being made to be fair, but true colors are difficult to hide. As research has shown in the past, 80 something percent of journalists tend to vote Democrat. Again, that doesn’t mean they can’t be objective. I guess a survey of stock brokers would have 80 some percent of them voting Republican. But, they don’t control the media message — just the money.

This year, for the first time since 1960, a senator will be elected to the presidency. Either man will not have worked as a manager of a shoe store, let alone a huge bureaucracy. As a governor, Ms Palin has more executive experience than the three men in the race. Biden and McCain have a lot of legislative experience, but see the world quite differently. So, there are some interesting combinations and chemistry for us voters to get a handle on.

So far in this campaign, both presidential candidates have said some dumb things that have been put into TV ads. I’m afraid the next two months will be filled with character assassinations, half-truths, complete lies, and insinuations. It’s been happening since the beginning of politics. Lincoln was treated like a punching bag during his re-election campaign. Between the campaigns themselves and the assaultive 527 groups that resulted from the McCain-Feingold legislation, there will be plenty of money and not enough restraint in the weeks and months ahead.

The worst things about the conventions being over is that the real battle now begins. Maybe I’ll just tune-out until November 5th…

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