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HEY EVERYBODY I’M OVER HERE! DON’T LOOK AT ME!

[ 48 ] August 23, 2012 |

This article from The Hill is making the conservative rounds and I’m not sure what to make of it. The author, Mike Lillis, opens by claiming that the Obama team is “[b]ucking protocol” because

Presidential candidates have traditionally kept a low profile during their opponent’s nominating celebration, but Democrats are throwing those rules out the window in an attempt to spoil Mitt Romney’s coronation as the GOP nominee.

This must be more of that Chicago-style politicking conservatives can’t stop complaining about. But let’s ask the experts:

“Traditionally, there was a kind of courtesy extended to the party having the convention—the [other] party would basically stay out of the public eye,” said Ross Baker, political scientist at Rutgers University.

And what’s the Obama team planning that’s so ungentlemanly?

Even first lady Michelle Obama is in on the act, scheduling an appearance on the “David Letterman Show” smack in the middle of Romney’s nominating bash.

Just out of curiosity, what was John McCain doing on 25 August 2008, the first night of the Democratic National Convention? According to “What’s on Today,” which you can find on page 7 in Section E of the New York Times on 25 August 2008:

11:35 P.M. (NBC) THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO Senator John McCain and the super swimmer Dara Torres are guests. Juliana Hatfield performs.

I’m not sure how Michelle’s decision to go on the less popular late-night show bucks protocol, but whatever. Because you know what John McCain did on 26 August 2008, the second day of the Democratic National Convention? According to “Calling in the Big Guns,” which you can find on page 18 of Section A of the New York Times on 26 August 2008, he didn’t do much of anything. But what was that about “Big Guns”?

Republicans on Tuesday stepped up their incursion into Democratic territory in Denver, with two party stars, Mitt Romney and Rudolph W. Giuliani, crossing enemy lines to get inside the convention hall for rounds of cable television interviews.

It was a jarring image for Democrats: The two former Republican presidential candidates—one of them, Mr. Romney, right, a potential running mate for Senator John McCain—happily chatting on television with the elaborate Democratic Party stage at their backs.

I’m sure Mitt Romney literally showing up and running the circuit at the Democratic National Convention doesn’t qualify as “[b]ucking protocol.” I’m not sure why it doesn’t, but it must not, given that Obama’s decision to do something on the second day of this year’s Republican National Convention represents such a grave break from tradition. But just so we’re clear about this tradition, we should look at how McCain went to great lengths not to upstage Obama on the fourth and final day of the Democratic National Convention. According to “McCain Has Made His Pick and Is Set to Tell on Friday,” which can be found on the 24th page of Section A of the New York Times on 28 August 2008:

Senator John McCain has decided on his running mate, two Republican strategists in contact with Mr. McCain’s campaign said Wednesday. He is expected to reveal his choice at 11 a.m. Friday at a rally at a basketball arena in Dayton, Ohio.

Announcing that you’ve decided on your running mate on the last day of the Democratic National Convention is in no way, shape or form a violation of the established decorum because. I don’t know why. It’s just because.

So when Charles C. W. Cooke claims that Obama’s “[p]laying a little dirty,” remind him of John McCain’s schedule between the 25th and 28th of August 2008:

  1. Hid from the electorate by appearing on the highest rated late-night talk show.
  2. Secreted a prospective VP candidate—who just so happens to be this year’s Republican nominee—into the Democratic National Convention and had him “happily [chat] on television with the elaborate Democratic Party stage at his back.”
  3. Whispered to everyone that he’d be announcing his running mate the next day.

Because that is how you “stay out of the public eye” when the other party’s hosting its convention.

Comments (48)

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  1. Hogan says:

    You are the wind beneath my wings.

  2. Who’s that boring old guy? Bring on Juliana Hatfield!

    • mark f says:

      My college make-out partner’s celebrity lookalike was Julianna Hatfield.

      /worked in a record store
      /off a certain vintage

      • Bill Murray says:

        so you played spin the bottle with her?

        He is gonnna kiss me, if he doesn’t miss me.
        I am ready for it now. already on the ground.
        Five minutes in the closet with you.
        Oooh! five minutes in the closet with you.

  3. sparks says:

    I would have used the term “Democratic Convention”, but then, I’m not a professor.

  4. Malaclypse says:

    This is good news for John McCain.

  5. HP says:

    If you want a vision of the Republican Party, imagine a time-traveler’s boot stomping on a Cretaceous butterfly — forever.

  6. SP says:

    Why the [b]? Was it an f in the original?

  7. Everyone’s citing Ta-nehisi Coates this week, but I think he’s mostly right. But this is also a more general phenomenon: noticing a (seemingly) tactical move by the other side and claiming that it’s unprecedented just because you hadn’t noticed other similar moves (or because you are a hack and don’t care to notice similar moves by one side), or unprincipled because it strikes you the wrong way at that moment.

    I’d go so far as to say that Democrats get hit by this a lot more than Republicans, though Democrats have their blind spots when it comes to the down-and-dirty practices of their own.

    • SEK says:

      I’d go so far as to say that Democrats get hit by this a lot more than Republicans, though Democrats have their blind spots when it comes to the down-and-dirty practices of their own.

      Mostly because they refuse to hit back. There’s not much moral high ground in contemporary politics, and there’s nothing to be gained by holding what little there is, but for the most part the Democrats seems determined to. I’d rather see policy victories than political purity.

      • mpowell says:

        They are willing to hit back, but they don’t get this kind of favorable media coverage. Maybe they need to be calling writers and suggesting stories to them, I don’t know. But for whatever reason ‘centrist’ media produces a never ending stream of bullshit stories talking about how the latest Democratic tactic, tame in comparison to what Republicans were just doing yesterday, is a bit of dirty politics.

        Perhaps the most ridiculous part of it is that if you’re not getting dirty doing politics, you’re doing it wrong. The contrast between how these beltway types represent things getting done and how they actually get done could not be more stark. Is it just a case of mass self-delusion? Cognitive dissonance resolution? Or just pure cynicism.

  8. John McCain was a maverick and not a true conservative, a group which as a rule respects all proper matters of decorum and etiquette.

    And Mitt Romney does what he’s told and didn’t have any agency in crashing the other party’s convention to give interviews.

    Nonetheless he is a bold leader with a will of iron.

  9. thebewilderness says:

    Looks like Mike was promoted from an area where he knows a little, Healthwatch, to an area where he is abysmally ignorant.
    Hacktacular.

  10. Fighting Words says:

    Slightly off topic (well, very off topic), I wonder which Olympic athletes will speak at the Republican National Convention. It seems like the Republicans always have some Olympic athletes speak at their convention.

  11. andrew long says:

    thank you for this needed destruction of the latest idiotic meme. one fix: that Wednesday that McCain announced he had chosen his VP was the third and penultimate day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Obama accepted the nomination the following night, at Invesco Field.

  12. arguingwithsignposts says:

    Fucking pathetic, is what it is.

  13. Rich says:

    Why are all these people looking at me?! I said don’t

    LOOK AT ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. tomk says:

    Cesspool lyrics, from Juliana Hatfield’s band Blake Babies wonderful first album Earwig

    They took it away, they won’t put it back
    They made all the water turn to black
    Their deed is washed up on my shore
    It was better the way it was before
    Check out this place I used to go
    None of my children’ll ever know never know

    Something’s wrong but it could be right
    It’s not like the day turning into night
    I’ll tell you about it, I’ll take you there
    You think about it, but you don’t dare
    To act for what we all deserve
    All we need is a little nerve lot of nerve

    They’d do almost anything if the price was right enough
    Well, I might do anything to clean it up

    Ooo, ooo, doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo
    Ooo, ooo, doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo
    Ooo, ooo, doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo
    Ooo, ooo-ooo

    They took it away, they’re not gonna’ put it back
    They think they’ve got me in a trap
    But there’s one thing I’m prepared to do
    To make this cesspool as good as new
    I’ll get my guns and both of my friends
    We’ll make some righteous amends maybe we’ll start a trend

    Take it, this cesspool
    Make it good as new
    Take it, this cesspool
    Make it good as new

    ‘Tis the circle of woe
    Summertime at home

  15. N__B says:

    Am I the only person who wants to say to Ross baker “Fuck your tradition and fuck your courtesy”? Following tradition, regardless of meaning, is the definition of traditional conservatism.

  16. actor212 says:

    Hell, SEK, you could look at a better parallel and the 2004 campaign when Bush was already painting Kerry as a flip-flopper before the end of July.

  17. Incontinentia Buttocks says:

    I’m really disappointed by Julian Zelizer (a fellow U.S. historian and FB of mine), who lent a quote to this article and proudly posted the piece on FB.

    Julian seems to be trying to brand himself as a Richard-Cohen-like liberal pearlclutcher (Ivy League public intellectual edition), who is always terribly upset at how uncivil his side is being. Earlier this campaign season, he wrote an op-ed chiding Reid for going after Romney on his taxes.

  18. Kenneth Griffith says:

    I am sick and tired of the Romney Campaign and the GOP whining and complaining about everything the big, bad and mean Obama Team is doing to them. They have got to be the biggest babies in political history. Tell them to put on their Pull-Ups and stop the crying. Their attempts to tarnish President Obama’s sterling character is not working and it’s time to try some other ploy to bring down the President’s likeability

  19. [...] Fred Clark 1 Comment• Sometimes “fact-checking” political claims involves research. Sometimes it just involves remembering. 2008 wasn’t that long ago.• Fact-checking David Barton is [...]

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