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

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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.

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