Home / Robert Farley / Convention?



Right now I’m watching the Giants play the Cowboys, even though I’m no longer a huge fan of the NFL.  Other options currently available on my teevee include Leverage, Burn Notice, Supernatural, English Premier League Soccer, a replay of last week’s Boise State-MSU tilt, the World Series of Poker, So You Think You Can Dance, AXS TV Concerts (featuring Sugarland 2009, whatever that may be), Abandoned, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, PGA Tour Golf Playoff, Any Given Sunday, and a broad host of mildly less palatable choices.  I would watch any of these, ANY OF THEM, before subjecting myself to a minute of the DNC. If the girls were still awake, I happily subject myself to a WonderPets marathon.

So… if you’re the sort of person who watches conventions, could you please use the space below to explain why? Because it makes no sense to me.

[EL] Is LGM the most anti-convention political blog with a sizable readership? I have to think we are and it’s not even close. We should be proud.

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  • Western Dave

    No but Sugarland 2009 might be OK. (It’s a Sugarland concert from 2009 which means after the best songwriter left the group, but still with Jennifer Nettles – formerly of Soul Miner’s Daughter singing lead). She’s got some major pipes but their material is strictly country-pop.

  • Malaclypse

    If the girls were still awake, I happily subject myself to a WonderPets marathon.

    Teamwork is a Gateway to Communism.

  • Well, don’t watch that BSU-MSU game because, 1) the bad guys won, 2) It was a pretty ugly game. Something about pets sounds clearly superior to the convention, though. Really, I don’t see why people watch such things. You can read about it later and probably get a better account, if you’re interested. (This applies also to State of the Union and other such things.)

  • wengler

    It’s hard to pick what I wouldn’t watch before Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.

    Maybe TBN.

    • allium

      There’s some lovely static on the old analog air channels.

    • cpinva

      i caught a preview (at least, i think that’s what it was) of Honey Boo BOO last week. i have to assume watching an entire episode would result in brain damage. also too, the little girl is clearly the brains of that outfit.

      i hope this spells the beginning of the death knell for tv reality shows, they really can’t get too much lower.

      • spencer

        It doesn’t matter if they can or can’t get much lower. What matters is if they can convince enough idiots to watch.

        I’m betting the bottom is a long way from falling out of the reality tv genre.

      • Halloween Jack

        Apparently that little girl is now the aunt to a baby with three thumbs. It sounds like a bad hillbilly-inbreeding joke, but I’ve seen the pictures.

  • Mark f

    I want to see how Elizabeth Warren does. She’s the candidate in my state and her campaign has been a bit lackluster. Otherwise I’m mostly with you.

  • Captain Haddock

    Colorado – Portland MLS. My love for the Timbers far, far exceeds the quality of play.

    • Bill Murray

      The Timbers have been dire so far. Also, does Alaska Airlines have a big presence at PDX?

      • Captain Haddock

        I think everyone understands that with the signing of Caleb Porter for next season the remainder of the current season is devoted to winning the Cascadia Cup (feck S**ttle) and experimenting with players.

        Anecdotally, Alaska Airlines is probable the closest thing PDX has to a resident airline. Horizon Air, a subsidiary of Alaska, may be closer only insofar as it serves free microbrews on local flights.

        • Bill Murray

          Porter wasn’t impressive coaching the U-23s. He wasn’t Wrongen bad, but I think they underperformed pretty heavily

      • davenoon

        Alaska Airlines has a giant green plane (737, I believe) with “PORTLAND TIMBERS” festooned across it. I assume this is what the team uses to travel around in….

      • Patrick

        Alaska Airlines is headquartered in Seattle, but Microsoft outbid them for the XBox sponsorship with the Sounders. Portland just gets our leftovers, like usual…

    • I heart Timbers fans. Plus, you gave us Adam Moffett. And that went really well.

    • wengler

      Seattle-Portland is almost always the best set of MLS games of the season.

  • Jamie

    I watch because I sometimes find it inspiring when people eloquently or powerfully state ideas that I agree with. Nancy Keenan, Deval Patrick and FLOTUS got me legitimately fired up last night.

    • JRoth

      Pretty much this. I like reading people effectively eviscerate Republican ideas; watching a pro like Bill Clinton do it is even more enjoyable. I’m not sure what’s so obviously dismissible about that?

      For the same reason, I’ve never watched any of the RNC; it’d just result in me shouting at the TV and upsetting my family.

      • To quote Sheryl Crow (aware that I’m probably risking being banned;) ) “If it makes you happy…” While the convention definitely has it’s warts, and I wouldn’t argue that it makes a huge difference in election results, it’s cathartic therapy to hear some people get on a national stage and FINALLY say the things that previously have only been said on blogs. Day in, day out I read the bullshit that the MSM peddles and think “why doesn’t anyone call out this bullshit?” The DNC is one of those rare times when somebody does, and for all the world to see.

        • spencer

          Why she was never featured on “Worst American Birthdays” is beyond me.

  • djw

    Living in the era of social media and youtube makes the watching of conventions more inexplicable than ever before. On the off-chance anything weird, funny, awkward, or otherwise noteworthy does occur, like an old man yelling at a chair for 10 minutes, my social media will alert me, and I’ll have ample opportunities to watch this part–and only this part–of the convention.

  • Richard

    I watched not a second of the RNC live. Of course watched the replay of Eastwood. Watched quite a bit of last night DNC. I can appreciate a good orator, even if what being offered up is platitudes, and Patrick, Castro and Michelle, especially Michelle, gave great speeches. Michelle’s delivery was exceptional

  • Desert Rat

    I used to watch both the RNC and DNC gavel to gavel.

    There isn’t enough bourbon whiskey in Kentucky to make me watch the RNC nowadays. But I like watching the DNC. It’s good to gauge the enthusiasm of the speakers, and occasionally, like last night with FLOTUS, you see somebody make a truly brilliant speech, and really connect with an audience.

    For some reason, our political process is pretty much designed to prevent those moments from happening. The conventions is about the only place you can find it these days.

  • mike

    i had to google honey boo boo
    found this
    ‘Here Comes Honey Boo Boo’ Beats the RNC | The RNC already has its slogan in “we built that,” but after last night’s TV ratings, they might want to make the subtext of that statement obvious and switch to “a dollar makes me holler.” That’s one of the catchphrases of Alana Thompson, the child beauty queen and titular star of TLC’s Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, which beat the Republican convention in the ratings in the 18-49 demographic on every cable network and on CBS, ABC and NBC last night

  • I like politics.

    I like political speeches.

    My knees go weak and my heart skips a beat every time I hear the hesitant, clipped baritone of one Eric Shinseki.

    • I am the most cynical motherfucker on the planet and there were shivers down my spine when he spoke.

  • Given all the competing entertainment you mention, these days conventions are pretty much just shows put on for the press corps, because it’s their job to pay attention to them. Or at least to keep their eyes somewhere in the neighborhood of the monitors in case “something” happens.

    Therefore the parade of speakers and the arguments and expressions of passion are calculated to influence THEM, not necessarily The Folks At Home.*

    All things considered, the Democrats are doing a better job entertaining/explaining themselves to the press than the Republicans did.

    * The BIG speeches (Bill, Obama) will be much more likely to be watched by an significant “civillian” audience, and to be directed accordingly. Not that the press isn’t also likely to be impressed by what impresses the general public when it comes to the Majors (and also, of course, more likely to be professionally UNimpressed when they are determined not to be).

    • Desert Rat

      What she said. Pretty much spot on.

  • Rarely Posts

    I’ve never liked conventions, and in fact, I generally dislike political speeches. They often are emotionally manipulative, and I’d much rather learn about candidates by reading their speeches/positions/votes. Reading at my own pace allows for more fact-checking and critical thinking. It also can be much faster (I read much faster than people talk).

    All of that said, the era of social media has actually increased the chances that I will watch parts of the conventions. For example, I’ve now watched a number of the highlights from yesterday-through links online. And, I’ve gotten a joy out of it that is similar to the blogosphere – it’s fun and comforting to realize that there are a lot of other people out there who share my basic values and opinions. And, other than the blogs, the media rarely contains unabashedly liberal voices, so the convention has been nice in that respect as well.

  • joe ro

    Quite frankly I would like to hear the explanation about why it is so worthless? I am genuinely confused by your lack of interest. If you are interested in politics you should be interested at the main event where their ideas are presented, to a certain degree prioritized and a case is made. In effect a convention is a collective attempt by a party to make an argument tailored to this particular time in the political process. Is there anything new or shocking — usually no, but damn if the Republicans didn’t achieve it with Eastwood. But that is quite irrelevant to the overall process.

    If you have already settled on a party — why even read any news from here until the election (just check the headlines to see if aliens invade and that calls for a new political policy)

    • Bill Murray

      If you are interested in politics you should be interested at the main event where their ideas are presented, to a certain degree prioritized and a case is made.

      Does this actually happen at conventions?

      • joe ro


      • firefall

        No, and never did. Conventions used to be interesting to see the results of backroom dealing, to see political machinations and surprises, but all of those have been carefully ironed out of them for a long time now. The last convention with even a hint of a possible upset would be, what, McGovern ’72?

    • Malaclypse

      If you have already settled on a party

      I knew back in 1984 which party I would vote against for the rest of my life. Are you telling me that either convention will impart information that would cause me to question the wisdom of that choice?

      • joe ro

        Well I don’t understand you would follow politics at all if you don’t think there are things to learn. Do I expect earth shattering new information at conventions…no. But the lineups present how the party wants to present itself. They are exercises in rhetoric and rhetoric matters or why not just read position papers and ignore all speeches. Churchill said “never have so many owed so much to so few.” That is much better than the original line, “damn we got such good pilots.”

        • Put it this way–I can read anything of interest that happens at the convention in 3 minutes.

          • David W.

            Sure, but you really do have to hear Bill Clinton speak to remember how damn good he is at making one damn fine talking point after another.

            • Vance Maverick

              The reason to listen to someone’s political speech is to be reminded how good they are at giving political speeches? That’s close to saying the reason to listen is for pleasure, which would be sort of plausible except that you’re not quite saying that.

              • David W.

                The reason I listened last night was to get the emotional context as well as the talking point. Clinton certainly delivered on that score, and made what I thought were effective defenses of Obama’s record and sharp attacks on what the Republicans would do if they could. Clinton’s repetition of “this is important” when making his points was very effective in making them stick.

              • JRoth

                I don’t think the idea that political oratory is entertaining is exactly new. I’m pretty sure it’s an idea that’s 2500 years old, that we’ve abandoned in the last 60.

                I’m sure that current society is right on this one, though. How could we not be, when we’re right about everything else?

                • Vance Maverick

                  Clumsily put on my part. I meant to say that I can understand listening for pleasure — but David W. seemed to be interested only in the “meta”, i.e. listening for evidence of skill. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s somewhat narrow and technical.

        • mpowell

          The point is that you don’t learn much at the conventions. Sure there are the subtle choice regarding how the party is choosing to present itself, but you don’t need to listen to speeches for that. Much better to read the position papers, ignore the speeches, and pay attention to what actually happens once they get into power (and to keep track of it for longer then the 5 minutes the mainstream media will!).

      • sparks

        Heh, I knew in 1970 which party I’d never vote for, ten years before it was legal for me to vote in a presidential election.

        What helped make my decision was having Reagan for a governor. He affected my life in a negative way at that young an age.

      • synykyl

        I knew which party I’d be voting against when I watched the Army-McCarthy Hearings from my playpen in 1954 ;-)

  • My husband points out that there is no EPL on right now. There is an MLS game (Colorado vs. Portland), but it’s the middle of the night in England and the Premier League is in bed.

    (We’re watching DVRed House Hunters International.)

    • scott

      There was a replay of Tottenham-Norwich on earlier. For those of us who are Arsenal fans, you got to see Spurs choke again and go down to 10 men on one of the dumber red cards you’ll ever see dished out. Good times!

      • wengler

        Enjoy watching RvP score goals against your team for years.

        • scott

          Shrugs. RvP is RvP – a mercenary who’s in it for himself, talented or not. I was surprised how quickly his departure left little or no emotional trace with me and other fans of The Arsenal. ManU fans might want to remember, too, that last year was the only one where RvP wasn’t an injury-prone fixture in the physio’s office. Maybe if that happens he can try scoring with the nurses from his hospital bed.

          • Yea, the minute he signed with Red, I unfollowed him on Facebook. I love his enthusiasm and his willingness to give it up for his team, tho. Last season, his walk season, he really showed something to the EPL. And as you point out, managed to stay healthy.

            Tevez will give him a run for the Golden Boot, tho.

  • Matt T. in New Orleans

    The Big Sleep is on AMC, just came on. I’ve never been sold on Bogie’s interpretation of Philip Marlow (I sort of like Elliot Gould’s run at it from an otherwise completely ridiculous interpretation of the book) but it’s a great movie all the way around.

    Because of the recent weather hereabouts, I’ve not really been able to pay attention to national politics up until yesterday. I’m somewhat loathe to jump into it just yet, especially into a convention.

    • sparks

      Ridiculous? I think you don’t get the writer’s or director’s view of the character at all. I don’t think either had any reverence toward Chandler’s depiction of Marlowe, and their take is very ’70s. It’s not a great Altman (it’s no California Split), but it’s up near the great ones.

      • Richard

        I love Big Sleep and hate Long Goodbye precisely because Altman was making the point that Chandler and Marlowe deserve no reverence. I revere them both. On a slightly related topic, i highly recommend the new novel The Twenty Year Death, actually three separate novels, one in the style of Simenon, one in the style of Chandler and one in the style of Jim Thompson which make a united whole. Really good.

        • Matt T. in New Orleans

          I have reverence for neither Raymond Chandler nor Philip Marlowe apart from them being a great writer and a great character, respectively. I liked the very ’70s take Gould brought to a character who I always thought as less a tough-guy badass and more a thoroughly decent dude, if a bit of a mopey cod philosopher, that could take an ass kicking and seriously hold his liquor. I never really dug Bogart’s take, the pussy-slaying bad motherfucker. Jim Garner played Rockford sans Rocky, and Robert Mitchum was just plain boring, as much as it pains me to say it. I don’t know if anyone’s really nailed the character, but those certainly didn’t do it for me. That might be my fault.

          My main problem with the ’70s version of The Long Goodbye is that I really don’t think much of Robert Altman as a director, and it decidedly didn’t change my mind. It was okay until the guy went raving off into the surf, and then it lost me. Again, though, it could just be me.

    • Altman/Gould’s Marlow is solid Altman, excellent Gould, and a worthy Marlow. Like most Altman The Long Goodbye merits close watching and repeated viewings. I was surprised, the last time I saw it, at how well it seemed to capture a particular cultural moment without really dating.

      It is tough to capture the twin peaks of hard-boiled fiction on film without deviating a little from the source text: Bogart’s Spade is not really Hammett’s Spade, and his Marlow is nearly as different from Chandler’s as it is from Gould’s. (Alan Ladd gets Honorable Mention in my Noir sweepstakes.)

      As much as I love this stuff though I’d have to say that watching Bill Clinton in full flight is a pretty glorious proposition. He’s smarter by himself that everyone in the room at the RNC, and because everyone knows that he is a flawed individual (especially ol’ Bill himself) he is able to make an emotional appeal without seeming as calculated and dishonest as most people. In fact, his gift is that he makes an emotional appeal by arguing the facts.

      Another reason to watch conventions is that it gives a sense of the relative bench strength of each side. I thought The Man Who Was Afraid To Google was unimpressive in the debates; but watching Santorum deliver a speech informed me a little bit about why he was able to appeal to a sizable portion of the Republican base. I also thought it was interesting that the Republicans seemed to lack any really exciting up-and-comers. Chris Christie is, I think, unlikely to get much traction in the future because he revealed himself as the sort of bully that Rudy Giuliani would have toadied for back in sixth grade. Julián Castro, on the other hand, was killer. Texas demographics will have to shift a bit for it to come together for him, but he looked like a five tool player to me.

  • Dog San Vito

    Yes, me too. I enjoy watching the pols. Sometimes the coventions are so empty you can’t even call them empty theater–but sometimes something unexpectedy human and moving–or absurd–happens. Been watching these things since I was a kid in 1968….

  • Aaron Baker

    Well, Professor Snarkmeister, there ARE some excellent speeches: Deval Patrick’s, Michelle Obama’s–and Elizabeth Warren’s, which I’m listening to, is very good in a lower key.

    Of course, as someone said above, you can always watch the good ones at your leisure on youtube–so maybe that’s the best way to deal with these things.

  • greylocks

    The last political convention I remember watching was the 1964 RNC. I suspect I watched it only because there was nothing else to watch and I was a 12-year-old addicted to television. We got exactly three channels back then on the VHF antenna – NBC, CBS, ABC – plus a low-power public station on UHF.

    That was also the last year I listened to a live political speech. Both William “Three-Dollar Bill” Miller and Bobby Kennedy made whistle-stops in the small town I grew up in, and my father, who was into local politics, dragged me to both.

    Since then, I’ve tried to avoid political speeches except when they are likely to be extremely important or newsworthy, like Obama’s Bin Laden announcement.

  • ScottC

    I usually only watch bits to check out possible future national candidates (Walker, McDonnell, Martinez, Ryan last week; Patrick, Warren, Kamala Harris this week). Otherwise I feel like you do about them, and so I’m watching The Big Sleep right now.

    That said I did catch up on Michelle Obama’s speech today, given the praise on twitter. It lived up to the hype. Amazing speech.

  • jp

    Funny I have been bored by conventions in the past & shared in your bewilderment. But for some reason I have been watching this one (the DNC) and finding it inspiring.
    Maybe because the other side is just so scary, and there is so much at stake.

    Of course it helps that by “watch” I mean that it’s going on in a little corner of my ‘puter screen (no commercials, no blathering media talking heads interrupting) while I do a little work & read my email & such. Kind of how I watch the Tour de France. So yay for the internets!

  • ploeg

    Then there’s US Open tennis. Federer’s down two sets, but he just woke up and broke the other guy in the third.

  • Aaron Baker

    Clinton just finished. Magnificent. The patient, thorough deconstruction of Paul Ryan was worth it all by itself.

    • Richard

      Seconded. It was a great speech. He was like a preacher getting the feeling

      • Ed

        Yup, the Big Dog brought it tonight. Masterly (and masterful).

        Conventions aren’t what they used to be but yeah, if you care about politics you watch.

        But the lineups present how the party wants to present itself.

        Right. The contrast at the Republican convention between the diversity marathon onstage and the sea of white faces in the audience doesn’t tell most people here anything they didn’t know about the GOP, but it’s quite the memorable image.

  • Anderson

    Anything is better than seeing Dallas win.

    • Colin

      Which is why I left the bar that had a TV and went to one that didn’t.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Seriously. I was right about Eli Manning after all!

      • JRoth

        As someone said about the premature obituary writer, “You’ll be vindicated by history.” If you say that a guy sucks for long enough, every pro athlete will prove you right some day…

      • Anderson

        What did you say? That he can’t get TDs throwing to a receiver who keeps dropping the ball? Because you would have been totally right about that.

        Wipe the butter off your hands, Cruz.

        (Joke is, I’m a Dolphins fan – we have WRs who duck and hide when they see a football threatening their personal space.)

        • Cody

          Out of pity, I think you’re allowed to insult other teams.

  • (the other) Davis

    I watched the RNC to see (a) how much they’d straight-up lie, and (b) get a sense of how well they messaged. (Answers: (a) a whole hell of a lot; (b) surprisingly poorly.)

    I started watching the DNC (a) to compare to the RNC (way more effective in my opinion), and (b) to see some speakers I was genuinely excited to hear, such as Elizabeth Warren. I came away far more inspired than I thought possible — my impression from these speeches is that the Dems may be trying to reform their milquetoast image and play some hardball with the Republicans.

    • Visitor

      I just watched the DNC (& will watch tomorrow) bc I definitely think the options before us are different, and I could use some firing up.

      Also, I ain’t got nothin’ on SEK for diagnosing rhetoric, but I can watch the Big Dog in operation and admire.

    • Cody

      Warren’s speech (as usual) sounded very Progressive. In contract to his usual style though, Clinton sent forward some true Progressive messaging. At least in rhetoric, even though he never governed like that.

  • Keaaukane

    When was the last time there was an open convention, without the vote already sewed up? I can’t recall one. I suspect that would be a more interesting spectacle.

    • Richard

      1952 was the last time a convention (the Dems) went beyond the first ballot

      • Stag Party Palin

        That was an important convention, because the only guy on our block who had a TV let me watch. That moment seems more real to me than watching the current blather fests on the Flat Screen. Now if it was in 3D, maybe.

      • Ed

        1960 didn’t go beyond the first ballot but it had its moments. McCarthy’s speech nominating Stevenson was simply awesome — too bad he couldn’t call down some of that thunder eight years later — and the Stevenson people, who’d packed the galleries, screamed their heads off. It didn’t stop JFK but it was great political theater.

      • Anderson

        The 1952 GOP convention didn’t go past the 1st ballot, but IIRC it was fairly dramatic: Taft showed up thinking he would have the votes, but oops.

  • Heron

    Does anyone actually watch political conventions? In all my days, I’ve never met anyone who did. I always figured conventions were meant for junkies like John Stewart who can not only stand to watch 12 hours of CNN, but actually feel compelled to.

    • Cody

      He pays interns to do that terrible work. Especially the picking out Fox News clips to make fun of. Bless their souls!

  • I’m guessing you missed “The Falling Man” on Destination America last night, then?

    Fascinating study of a 9/11 photo that was banned from most newspapers after a public outcry, and the attempts to identify the victim.

  • JRoth

    Would you watch the DNC if it started with a rousing call and response of, “What’s gonna work?” “TEAMwork!”?

    FWIW, I didn’t watch a single second of the RNC (except about 90 seconds of Clint’s speech, just to understand what it was like), but I did watch Warren and Clinton last night – Warren because I was at the NYT when she came on (they have a live box at the top of the page – good tech) and I was curious to see her (I’ve really only seen her speak in that one YouTube bit where she attacked the free enterprise system); and then Clinton because he was on next, and I enjoy the hell out of a good Clinton speech. And it was a really good Clinton speech.

    I have no plan to watch Obama tonight, although I might.

    Also, I don’t know what context this adds, but although we do own a TV, I average maybe an hour of non-sports TV per month, and since we don’t have cable, the only sports I watch is some Steelers games, whatever baseball playoffs are on broadcast, and sometimes NBC hockey. And the Olympics every 2 years. Point being, I’m not sitting in front of the TV regardless of whether the convention is on (I do watch stuff on Netflix – I’m not anti-television or whatever).

  • Law Spider

    To summarize Bill’s speech for Mr. Farley:

    “What’s Gonna Work? Teamwork!”

    And: “This. Is. Serious!”

  • Njorl

    My favorite convention speech ever was delivered by Democratic party chairman Robert Strauss at the 1976 convention. I was 13 at the time, and every 5 minutes, he’d say “…Kissinger, Simon, Morton and Butz!” with heavy emphasis on “Butz!”

    When you’re 13, and your parents are making you watch a political convention, some guy shouting “Butz!” every five minutes can make your day.

  • ScS

    drinking games.

    for the rnc, every time a black person was shown on the screen i took a shot. i ended up stone cold sober, unfortunately.

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