Dan Rather explained why the ratings were low -- the convention was a four-day infomercial. Every minute was scripted - every line vetted to peddle the product. So there would be no division, no contest. The only surprise was how disciplined the performance would turn out. There was Howard Dean, declaring that the whole party was now one Democratic wing -- a strange bird indeed. There was the party platform, calling for guns and SUV’s and war without end. There was the keynote speaker -- no, the real keynote speaker was Bill Clinton, who directed the show. There was the designated keynoter, denying that he was an African-American, saying there were no Afro or Latino or Asian Americans any more - only Americans. That of course is an argument against affirmative action. Barack Obama came close to making that argument -- calling on poor mothers to bring their kids up right. He’s an attractive figure, already being talked of as a rising star, which reminds me of Colin Powell -- no overriding passion for peace and justice.
The infomercial was heavily infused with tributes to our brave warriors, beginning with Kerry himself. Again and again we were reminded of their heroism -- never about the crimes of even a few bad apples. The word torture was never heard -- nor did anybody count the Iraqi dead. But the real war continued to make the evening news, if not the convention.
It should be said that there was one departure from the Clinton script. That was by Ted Kennedy, reminding us that the New Deal gave us minimum wage, overtime pay, Social Security, the right to organize, public housing and much more -- all things now under fire -- all things that people will continue to fight for.