Reflections On Virtual Democratic Convention–Night One


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What we are witnessing with the virtual Democratic National Convention this week, and the Republican one to follow next is a necessity given the COVID-19 pandemic.  While watching the opening night speakers and video clips I thought more than once to what Teddy White would write if alive and able to follow the proceedings.

The famed author of The Making of the President series and a convention analyst for NBC News would mesh the messages of the speakers with the voters which need to be wooed in swing states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.  But then he would doubtless say that will be harder to do this year with a  virtual convention.  Before one can be wooed they have to turn in for the broadcast.

The rationale for such a method of conducting this year’s party business is obvious, but so too is the fact that there could have been more finesse and heed paid to the production of the show.  Granted there can be no balloons or floor demonstrations for this person or that cause.  But some well-placed ‘bumper’ music with patriotic flourish and seconds of video with our proud standard bears from decades past could have ushered in the next speaker.  Almost any attempt to enliven the show would have been useful.

Why actress Eva Longoria needed to be in Los Angeles, with the city named at the top of the screen, as opposed to taking the backdrop and star to Milwaukee or Pittsburg was seriously flawed.  It will be interesting to see if they make the same blunder on night two.

The Nielson ratings showed that viewership last night fell roughly 25 percent from 2016.  About 19.7 million people watched the proceedings on TV while four years ago about 26 million people tuned in for the Democrats’ first night in Philadelphia.

While watching Monday I had to chuckle to myself that mom would have been distraught had this convention taken place in 1976.

I recall how excited I was that summer for the political conventions to get underway.    I was coming into my own with an interest in politics, and with wall-to-wall coverage on the networks with the likes of Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley, and Bob Schieffer there was no end to the excitement and real-time civics lesson to he had.  I was just then starting my admiration for Teddy White.  That summer I can still hear mom telling others that the conventions kept me ‘occupied” which seemed a nicer way of saying it kept me quiet.

While I am truly excited about Joe Biden, being a supporter of his since 1987, applauding him along all the years, he deserved a better production team for his convention.  While Michelle Obama was truly on-spot for the major address of the night the lead up to her shining moment was lackluster.

Let us hope for something much stronger tonight for production values!