The News from Charlotte: The First Two Days of the Democratic National Convention

2012 Democratic National Convention Logo © Charlotte in 2012  400 South Tryon Street, Box 500 Charlotte, NC | Facebook.com

The Democrats in the first two days of their convention manufactured news. But I think it is important to understand that it wasn’t propaganda or an infomercial, as many overly cynical academics and commentators would suggest, from Noam Chomsky to Joe Nocera. Rather, like the Republican Convention last week, it was a modern day media event, a televisual combination of demonstration and manifesto, revealing, or as my friend and colleague Daniel Dayan would put it “monstrating,” where the party stands, who stands with the party, how it accounts for the past, present and future. The first two days were particularly about the past and the present, identifying the party. Today, Obama will chart the future. This, at least, is how I understand the storyline. We will know, soon enough, if I am right.

The structure of the presentation, thus far, has been interesting and informative. There was a clear understanding on the part of the convention planners. Before 10:00 PM, without the major networks broadcasting, with a much smaller audience watching, was the demonstration slot. It was the time for showing the stand of the party and demonstrating who stands behind it. Between 10:00 and 11:00 PM, with the full prime time audience watching, the manifesto was presented by the major speakers: on Tuesday, Mayor Julián Castro of San Antonio and First Lady Michelle Obama, on Wednesday, Massachusetts Senate candidate, Elizabeth Warren, and former President Bill Clinton.

The coherence of the Democrats’ presentation was striking. This contrasted with the Republican convention, in which candidate and platform were in tension, and the personal qualities and not the political plans of the candidate took priority, and the speeches didn’t add up. The worst of it was Eastwood’s performance piece. It represented accurately the state of the party, with its pure ideological commitments and tensions, as I have already discussed here earlier during the primary season.

The Democrats revealed some differences of opinion, . . .

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