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27 July 2004

Why are conventions such a boring affair?

Here’s what’s going on (with some help from my friends (only one has a web presence) who study the development of the American political system.

Lots of the bloggers here have noted that the DNC is pretty
boring.  It is.  Really.  Right now, a variety of
candidates for congress and such all over the country are speaking and
telling us why they should be elected.  And we’re getting a
retrospective (necrology, actually) of Democrats who have died since
the last convention — all to the “Forrest Gump Suite.”  People
are bored because “nothing happens here.”

But the boredom results almost directly from the attempt of both
parties to infuse their processes with more democracy.  As one of
my colleague-friends put it, “The Democratic National Committee changed
its nominating rules after 1968 such that a majority of the delegates
to the convention had to be chosen by ‘the people’ — that is, through
primaries or caucuses. In response, most of Democratic-controlled
states changed their election laws to be in compliance with the DNC,
and so both the Republicans (because they were forced to, not because
they wanted to) and the Democrats chose their candidates through
primaries and caucuses.”

The Democrats have what are called “super-delegates”, who are
essentially party hacks, electeds, and so forth, who make up about a
sixth or a fifth of the votes needed to get the nomination.  They
tend to commit their votes early on in the process, so that Al Gore,
for example, had about one third of the votes needed for the nomination
before the primaries even started.

So democracy may not have killed the convention as some sort of
meaningful political event, but it was certainly one of the primary

Posted in DeeEnCee on 27 July 2004 at 10:50 pm by Nate

Print v. Blogger

This dichotomy is the one that we’ve been asked about a bunch of times
since we got here yesterday.  All the reporters want to know
how/why we’re in contention with them.

This USA Today piece (blech, a paper I would never have read if it hadn’t been for Dave Weinberger’s link).

We get lots of visits up in the blogger area near the ceiling of the
main hall of the Fleet Center.  And everyone’s curious as to why
we’re here.  I’ve explained more times than I can recall that I’m
not a journalist, that I’m not trying to compete, that I don’t think
that I am really doing the same thing that they are.

The dust-up yesterday morning between David Weinberger and Walter Mears
was more interesting than contentious, and the press that have noted it
have played it more as the second.

AKMA tightens up Dave’s question quite a bit,
improving upon it, and at the same time explaining why it is that the
bloggers and many non-bloggers don’t trust the mainstream media in
their claims of objectivity.  We all know that no one can be truly
objective.  Take, for example, this morning’s coverage of the
speeches given here at the convention last night.  Look at your
local paper and the New York Times.  Probably fairly different
takes on the same event.  If the source were truly “objective,”
then why aren’t the reports the same in tone and so forth? 
Moreso, why aren’t they pulling the same quotes from the speeches?

All right, enough of this navel gazing.

Posted in Politicks on 27 July 2004 at 10:40 pm by Nate

Jerry Brown, ladies and gents

I’m in the Press Room, and Governor Moonbeam just walked by.  Dean’s starting his speech….

Of course, I already know what he’s going to say, since we get the
speeches before you all get them, just like the press does.  It’s
kind of funny to read the jokes in print, as they’re not that funny
that way.  Which makes it funny.

Posted in Politicks on 27 July 2004 at 10:06 pm by Nate

Random thoughts from the top of the DNC

Ted Kennedy is speaking as I write this, even if I can’t post until later….

There’s a bit of a feeling of optimism here, it seems.  The
Democrats act and speak as if they have little to hide; they’re
consistently on message; they are presenting a message of considerable

Now, I grant that much of that is due to the fact that this is a modern
political convention, in which the whole thing is a show of unity.

But the Democrats act as if they’ve spent more than just one presidential term in the political wilderness.

On another note, part of the problem with blogging the convention is
that it’s unclear what one can do here, especially if you can’t get on
the interweb thingy to read and link to other stuff.

Random question:  Who ARE the people who get to sit on the podium
for short periods of time?  They get cycled on and off pretty

Wait a minute.  Jerry Springer is visiting the bloggers….

All right.  Back.  (It’s hard to keep a consistent thread of thought going here.)

My theory about the stage people is that they are delegates from
critical states and this is their pre-reward for getting out and
getting people going about Kerry.

Posted in DeeEnCee on 27 July 2004 at 10:02 pm by Nate

Can’t write…

WiFi Access here is still spotty. Windows people are more affected, it seems, but even the Mac people can’t hold a connection.

I’ve got plenty in the tank, but I’m gonna have to go downstairs into the media hell to get a hrd connection.

Posted in DeeEnCee on 27 July 2004 at 8:42 pm by Nate

DNC access still spotty

…but we’re doing what we can.  I’m up and running for now, and I’m working away.

Posted in DeeEnCee on 27 July 2004 at 6:08 pm by Nate

We’re gonna try again

So I’m gonna try to blog from the DNC once again today, but I’m only
giving it about a 50/50 chance of working right now.  I think a
lot of the bloggers are thinking of buying Ethernet cables cables and
taking over the press center the DNC has set up for the “regular” press.

But I have some info on how “democracy” has actually helped to lead to the boredom and predictability of the modern convention.

Posted in DeeEnCee on 27 July 2004 at 3:42 pm by Nate

Source of the problem

Ninja Stu knows what’s up with the blogger area nightmare of access.

As someone once said, “I belong to no organized party.  I’m a Democrat.”

Posted in DeeEnCee on 27 July 2004 at 1:12 am by Nate

Trying to blog at the DNC

I had to come home to my dial-up access to get onto my blog.

Permit me to complain for a bit.  This morning we were told that we
were an important part of the future direction of political
interaction.  But then we got to the convention site, and the three odd
dozen of us were supposed to cram into a space with 12 chairs.  At
least half of us couldn’t access the WiFi network that we had been told
had been specially set up for our use so that we could blog.  There
were no tech people that we could get in contact with.

Half an hour ago, according to an e-mail I just got, they added another access point that might work.

So after a day of frustratingly trying to blog, like I had asked and
been asked to do, I’m going to give up for tonight and try to do this
again tomorrow.

Posted in DeeEnCee on 27 July 2004 at 12:06 am by Nate