Big Daddy

Big Daddy

Dear Big Daddy,
What’s your take on the GOP convention?
–Pete in the Capay Valley

Hey Pete,
The best part of any convention – even a GOP convention – happens after midnight and before sunrise, the hours of drinking and romance. Ahh!

The rest is visible and scripted and obvious, and it all happens on the convention floor or in the early hospitality suites. The worst of politics and the worst of reporting – it all comes together at a political convention.

The right wing of the party will make noise and grab headlines in places like Orange County and San Diego. But then, the right wing of the party always gets coverage in Orange County or San Diego. Whitman will be confronted by reporters demanding interviews (if she shows her face, that’s the lede), Campbell will be questioned on terrorism, Fiorina will be asked about HP, and DeVore will be asked about God knows what.

Wake me when it’s over.

Andrew Breitbart, the wealthy shadow behind Matt Drudge, will be there for a Saturday morning breakfast. Now, that’s interesting, and he may be the only attraction of the convention. I’m like a reporter: I always follow the money. I wish he was around when I was Assembly speaker. He would have been more fun to thump than Reagan.

For politicians, the only real reason to go to a convention is to show their faces and do some networking.

And for reporters, the exact same reason applies: to show their faces and network their sources. Really, there’s no news value in conventions, but that doesn’t stop the dwindling herd of reporters from filing breathless copy and pundits from pontificating at excruciating length.

You can count on it: This convention will have no impact on the gubernatorial or U.S. Senate campaigns.

What party members think about those races and what the larger public thinks are two different things. There won’t be any tea leaves in the Convention Hall, no way of divining the future – although that won’t stop everyone from trying.

If I sound cynical about the news value of political conventions, it’s because I am. To the extent that if deals are cut at all, they are cut behind closed doors, not on the floor. Conventions are exercises in public relations and political consulting, and I’m tired of both.

What I really want is a convention where powerful people scream behind closed doors over the future of the state, where an aging pol gets caught at 2 a.m. with a beautiful starlet, where someobody falls in a hotel swimming pool and where somebody makes such a huge political blunder that his – or her – future political career is demolished.

Now, that’s a convention.

We’ll have to wait for the Democrats for that one.

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