Blah. Damn. I will still update this post and make it the evening's live-blog, but I am disgusted -- disgusted! -- by this in-your-face message that the nominating convention is not a nominating convention at all, but a big advertisement -- a free media barrage -- for the party and its candidate. And, yes, of course, I already knew that. But it irritates me to be taunted with it.
5:51 Central Time: I'm watching CNN tonight and the commenters are falling over themselves trying to say the word "historic." Seriously, I have just heard the word "historic" about 50 times in 5 minutes. I don't think this really helps Barack Obama get elected. He's a specific person whose qualifications needs to prove himself to Americans. It's not just a a feel-good gesture to nominate "a black man." Yes, it's something. But so much more needs to be done with this convention. Finally, at 6:01, John King makes this point.
6:23: I'm reading this in the NYT:
At 4:48 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time, at the urging of Mrs. Clinton, the New York delegation cast its votes for Mr. Obama, and Mrs. Clinton called on the Democratic National Convention to end the roll call and nominate him by acclamation.Oh. I see. The crowd was chanting "Hillary, Hillary, Hillary." She made it happen like this. When no one was watching. How utterly surreal. This convention is all about the Clintons, isn't it? She dominated last night. She controls the nomination tonight. And the rest of the evening is the lead-up to Bill. How awful for Barack... in his moment of triumph.
“With eyes firmly fixed on the future in the spirit of unity, with the goal of victory, with faith in our party and country, let’s declare together in one voice, right here and right now, that Barack Obama is our candidate and he will be our president,” Mrs. Clinton said.
“I move that Senator Barack Obama of Illinois be selected by this convention by acclamation as the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.”
The crowd in the Pepsi Center roared as one and then began to chant, “Hillary, Hillary, Hillary.”
6:28: As for me, I'm going to watch the new Bloggingheads, with Bob Wright and Mickey Kaus. Mickey is back at long last. And he's in Denver. "Reviewing the convention speeches ... New Bill Ayers ad deemed highly effective..." Great topics. I'm pouring a second glass of wine and oozing into the delights of the evening.
7:24: Why would any sane person watch tonight's proceedings?
8:01: It's Bill Clinton! Pay Attention! "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow"... and don't stop thinking about the 90s and the tomorrow that will not be. Hillary and Chelsea look blissful. Michelle Obama claps glumly. Bill himself looks pink and youthful. Wow!
8:04: Bill has a way of magnifying the crowd noise, interpreting it into a higher level of love. "Please stop. Sit down. Please sit." "I am here first, to support Barack Obama." Good. That's appropriate. "And second, I'm here to warm up the crowd for Joe Biden." Ow. That must hurt.
8:08: Are you getting tired of shots of Michelle Obama, looking judgmental?
8:10: "Clearly, the job of the next President is to rebuild the American dream and to restore American leadership in the world.... Barack Obama is the man for this job."
8:13: Clinton is talking in a strong, straightforward way about Barack Obama. "He is ready." This is good and effective... and it ought to fend off some of the criticism that he's some sort of snake serving his own ends.
8:15: Clinton turns the topic to domestic policy (which we've read is what he wanted to talk about): "Barack Obama knows that America cannot be strong abroad unless we are first strong at home. People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power." That was written to be a famous quote, and I think it will be remembered. "Look at the example the Republicans have set." Great segue.
8:17: I love the shots of Hillary -- her chin pulled in unattractively, but with expressive resolve, her eyes bulging, her lips pressed together in a strong smile. It all says: He's right! My husband is right! Then we see Michelle, who -- though she never ran for President -- is presiding over all of this, monitoring everything. She smiles charmingly when Bill is promoting her husband and has an edgy look when it seems as though he might not have his heart 100% in this.
8:24: Bill Clinton is doing a fabulous job tonight. His superiority to everyone else who has spoken is painfully obvious. "American will always be a place called hope." Brilliant. He's the greatest!
8:26: And, now what is going through his mind? And that's how it's done you losers. Screw you for rejecting, Hillary's. Enjoy your doom, fuckers.
8:38: Following up our brilliant rockstar of a former President is John Kerry. "Time and again, Barack Obama has proven right." And McCain... Kerry has the hatchet man role. What a downer after our Bill.
8:54: I'm reading the comments on this post. Michael H writes:
WTF, indeed, Ann.Yes. Yes. Yes. The great state of Wisconsin is ... or I, here, am ... nostalgic for the old-style Americana of the political conventions of yore. I remember conventions where there was true excitement in the roll call. I remember 1968, when the conventioneers got overwhelmed by the protests outside and started singing "We Shall Overcome" and took down their vertical state-name signpost and rocked it in the horizontal position. That made me weep when I was 17.... Okay, I'm snapping out of that.
I first watched political conventions with my Irish grandfather, a union democrat. We watched the state-by-state nominating process, and he explained the importance of every state the the democracy of the process (an explanation with many comparative references to the "fookin' Russians").
The conventi, usualy [sic] a woman, would call the roll: The Greeeat Staaate of Aaaahlaskah!!!
And the chairman of that state's delegation would reply: The great State of Alaska, America's northernmost state, the second youngest state in our great union, the home of caribou, elk, moose and Denali National Park, the great State of Alaska casts its 4 electoral votes for the next president of the United States, Adalai Stevenson!!!"
The nominations were held in prime time because, after all, nominating a candidate was the purpose of the convention.
I wish it were so today. The most important part of the convention has been relegated to a perfunctory exercise to fill time before the prime time speechifyin' can begin.
9:00. A film about the military. The young enlistees are presented as idealistic but misled. They speak in depressed tones. "They kind of built it up as if it was going to be a kind of simple peace-keeping mission. Win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, you know. We're going to build schools. We're going to help out in the hospitals. And when we got there, it turned into a fight." Clunking, sentimental piano music. Photos of blood in the street. Talk of battle deaths and suicide bombers. A Marine breaks down and cries. We're told that the soldiers feel afraid, and -- strangely -- that they are able to face fear only because the military is diverse. What a clumsy segue! You mean, back in WWII, when the military was segregated, they weren't courageous? Now, we see the present-day soldiers coming home, hugging their wives and daughters and talking about the difficulties of readjusting to life in America. "You've got all this stuff on your mind and you want to let it out but you just can't." Wheelchairs. Prosthetic legs. Coffins. Tom Hanks ambles out and in a digitally deepened voice tells us "we are there for one another." A montage of soldiers with troubled faces. Sad music. This is the Democratic Party's view of the military, and it is not what I want to see and I doubt that it is what most people who serve want to see.
9:08: "There he is, Steven Spielberg. He put this video together." Well, hell.
9:09: John emails me the link to the video of the acclamation:
9:19: The VP nomination is made "in the name of women," which is a little annoying. Nancy Pelosi comes out to entertain the acclamation. And let me say, she looks great. She's wearing big blue and gray pearls and a blue satin blouse with a very wide shawl collar.
9: 21: A little film about Joe Biden. Obama appears in it and says: "The most important thing that Joe offers is his honesty." Odd. I thought a key problem with Biden was that he was notoriously caught lying about a speech and his academic credentials. Yet the most important thing he brings is honesty?
9:24: Beau Biden speaks. "Delaware can get another Senator, but my boys can't get another father," said Joe Biden, before he was convinced to go forward and serve as Senator after his wife and daughter died. "Some people poke fun at my dad talking too much..." but you need to know that it's somehow a result of a bad stuttering problem.
9:54: Joe Biden gave an excellent speech. I won't detail it, but his delivery was fine and he pounded appropriately hard on John McCain. His wife comes out, announces a special surprise, and it's Barack Obama. Ah, good. It's the last night in this arena. He wanted to come out and have "a little something to say." "Hillary Clinton rocked the house last night," he says. He praises Bill Clinton and thanks him for "putting people first." He blesses us and blesses America.
10:09: A really cute thronging of Biden family in the end, with Joe walking around holding the hand of the little blond grandson.