Reporter's Note: President Obama receives a letter from me each day. Or at least I send one. Heaven knows if he receives it.
Dear Mr. President,
Walking around the convention down here in Tampa, I feel as if I have fallen through some sort of wormhole in the time-space continuum, landing somewhere in… oh say, the 1890’s. And no, that’s not a crack about Republicans. It is the whole convention gig.
There is just something about the whole affair that seems like it comes from another time: People wearing funny hats and strange clothing, like the old couple I saw today in all yellow suits with these giant Uncle Sam hats; folks walking through Robert’s Rules of Order and waving signs and cheering; barbershop quartets standing on corners singing patriotic medleys; protesters milling around (as close as they can get which is admittedly not very close) balloons, buttons, t-shirts… you get the picture.
In some ways, it is wonderful. It is nice to see people who care about their country and its leadership enough to come to an event like this, enduring the traffic and security checks, and gauntlets of media folks. In other ways, it’s peculiar. Conventions are, of course, no longer about any surprises. Everyone knows ahead of time who will be nominated and when and where and how it will happen. Sure, they may hoot and holler about some planks in the platform. Well, to be honest, by the time it reaches this point the most you’ll hear is a little wrangling over the splinters.
It all becomes a kind of pageant, and I think that is why it seems sort of anachronistic.
Still, it is kind of fun being here. I chatted briefly today with my old colleagues Sam Donaldson and Jeff Greenfield. I interviewed Jon Voight. I met some nice teenagers from California who are here to learn about government. And I ran into countless old friends in the business.
So while I suspect the monumental cost and daunting logistics may someday drive the conventions into extinction, for now guess I’m glad to see the pageant go on for both parties and for all of us who get to watch.
Call if you can, although I may have trouble hearing the phone over all the cheering Republicans.
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