After a week of waiting, we finally got to see Mayor Nutter’s shot at the podium at the Democratic National Convention last night. It was tight, solidly-delivered four and a half minutes, focused on education and recalling one of the few unscripted moments I’ve ever seen in a presidential campaign event.
It was when Mitt Romney did a round table discussion at a West Philadelphia charter school earlier this year and told the educators present he thought research showed smaller class size didn’t make much difference in achievement. The teachers pushed back, and Nutter reminded everyone last night.
And Nutter opened with a nice line, noting that when the founders crafted the words “we the people” in Philadelphia, “they didn’t mean corporations.”
But now that the political conventions are over, we can say goodbye to the packaged, canned infomercials they are, and get back to the packaged, canned commercials that will dominate the rest of the campaign.
Some closing thoughts:
I was stunned, but encouraged to read that Bill Clinton’s Wednesday night speech drew more TV viewers than the NFL season opener between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants. The game and speech probably cut into each others’ audiences, since both were smaller than the one for Michelle Obama Tuesday, but still.
I remained convinced that most of what’s worth covering at a national political convention could be done by monitoring a video feed. In an age of shrinking journalism, it doesn’t make sense to send all that media talent down there to run after the same stories.
I covered a convention once – the Democrats’ gathering in Atlanta in 1988 that nominated Mike Dukakis. I was city hall bureau chief for KYW Newsradio at the time. The conventions were four days then, and the networks and papers covered them in a bigger way, and I was there mostly to generate stories about local politicians in the mix. When I got back I counted more than 80 radio reports I’d written in five days, including live shots and stories filed to run overnight and mornings.
The only one I can remember was about a Philadelphia City Councilman who, I discovered, had driven his city car to Atlanta for the event. (This was Angel Ortiz, who political career was shortened years later when it was discovered he’d been driving for years without a license).
I remember the convention being exhilarating at moments, but mostly a lot of noise that wouldn’t mean anything a month later. I’ve seen nothing that captures the feeling of it better than a piece this week from Walter Kirn of The New Republic. Here’s a taste:
“To disagree with the conventional wisdom even as it’s being born around you—and even as you’re trying with all your might to anticipate and even shape it—is a profoundly disorienting experience. It makes you wonder if you were there at all, or if there even exists a there to be at.”
Read the rest here.