The Democratic Party-Party Convention is over and its singular memory will be its predictable banality and the commercialism that mostly financed it.
Historically, conventions were newsworthy because there was a struggle over who would receive the nomination and what the Parties would stand for in their platforms.
Today there is a coronation for the nominee and inquiries about what would be on the menus of the 250 parties that corporations and their smooth-tongued lobbyists were throwing for their favorably-positioned congressional bigwigs.
Inside the festooned Convention Center there were dozens of speeches all pre-viewed, sanitized and edited down to the last minute on teleprompters by the standby Kerry censors. When Al Sharpton departed from the script for a couple of minutes, you would have thought their wedding cake was burning.
Fifteen thousand reporters spent five days looking for stories-any stories- that qualified as news or soft features from the Party, its 4000 plus delegates and the swarm of corporate backslappers. It was not difficult to describe the wine, whiskey, music and obvious temptations, in return for the implicit political favors, that the drug, insurance, banking, chemical, oil, media and computer companies presented to the attending politicians.
For this business bacchanalia the taxpayers were required to pay the Democratic party thirteen million dollars (and later the same amount for the Republican Party Convention). A few years ago Congress- namely the two Parties- decided that these political Conventions were “educational” in nature and worthy of your tax dollars.
Around, over and under the Convention premises hovered a security army of police, detectives, troops and armed, airborne and land-based technology worthy of a Marine division. Thwarting a possible terrorist attack was one reason for over tens of millions of dollars spent- the other objective was to keep the people from protesting anywhere near the Fleet Center Convention.
The people- voters, taxpayers, workers- were detained in a “free speech zone” (catch the irony) that looked like an ad hoc concentration camp encirclement. The intimidating zone was distant enough not to be convenient to the electronic media placements. In a phrase, the Democratic Party did what it does so regularly in Washington- it shut out the people who resigned themselves to social justice gatherings elsewhere in Boston.
But the “people” should have been smarter. They should have had contrasting parties held by dispossessed workers, defrauded consumers, medical malpractice victims, fleeced taxpayers, small farmers, and polluted communities with open invitations for the politicians to attend. The media likes contrasts, especially when very few of these Congressional delegates would have left their lavish business bashes to greet the Americans they court and flatter only at election time from distant stages and 30 second television ads.
The Democratic Convention did have its amusing moments. Bill Clinton didn’t charge his $200,000 per speech fee for his speech to the convention and the viewing public. The National Association of Broadcasters-representing those television stations who use your public airwaves free and decide 24 hours a day what is allowed to air on our property- held a huge party for Congressman Ed Markey. Mr. Markey started his congressional career as a major outspoken critic of the broadcasting industry. He has been much quieter in recent years.