Maybe no one needs this, but I can't resist a post on various campaign commentaries that have caught my eye during the Democratic Convention.
Is anyone paying attention?
After all, though political junkies like me and presumably most of the people who drop by here are fascinated, it seems very likely that most people scarcely are noticing this made-for-(sporadic)-TV extravaganza. Even I honestly can't remember a thing about most Dem conventions since 1968 -- except that Jesse Jackson was riveting in 1984. (Just looked at the text. Still riveting.) Apparently the answer is that lots of people are paying attention, but still only a small fraction of us. Ari Melber reports on attention through Tuesday:
Apart from the hoopla, are any real conversations happening in Denver?
Perhaps yes. The way campaign finance law works, corporations and other interest groups are limited in how much money they can throw directly to candidates. But they can sponsor "educational" events around the edges of a gathering like the convention. And they do. So, naturally, the little fish imitate the big fish and out of that, some interesting panels are taking place. Rinku Sen from Colorlines reported on an event billed as "The Culture Wars: the role of Race, Gender, Ethnicity, Religion and values in the Fall Campaign" that featured a bunch of mid-level Dem pols and some media types. These semi-luminaries hacked away at questions about whether long Obama/Clinton contest had aroused or put to rest issues of race and gender. Rinku comments on how groups who all get hammered in the "mainstream" narrative get set against each other:
So this is a nice show, but where's the campaign?
The organizer in me is in love with the Obama operation. I like the candidate fine; I love how they are approaching winning this thing through people to people organizing. This operation is an experienced field organizer's dream. They are mining the data, trusting that they can find the persuadable voters, training and equipping volunteers -- the voters' neighbors -- to talk with them, and trusting their results. Further, the campaign is allocating the resources, the money, needed to make this happen. That just has never been the case in any major campaign I've worked on. Never. But the Obama folks are out-organizing the Republicans across the board. More here.
Mark Blumenthal of Pollster.com reports that Obama campaign manager David Plouffe laid out how his campaign's use of polls is different from what media oriented campaigns do:
That's someone who trusts his organizing program, who is betting on organization to trump hype. We're about to see whether this can be done on a national scale.
Is the Obama campaign stumbling in its media messaging?
It certainly looked that way most of August until the convention and it has something to prove going forward. Can the themes developed in the convention get traction against McCain's slime campaign? David Kurtz of Talking Points Media made an insightful observation about what might be hobbling the Obama media operation (while the field chugs along.)
Can a jaded old leftist cynic like me still get inspired by the first ever African American to win a major nomination for the Presidency?
Maybe I just can. When Obama speaks tonight on the anniversary of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech, I know I am going to be thrilled. There are not a lot of discouraged old cynics I think are wiser than Billmon and even he has caught the fever.
We can worry later about making of a President Obama the kind of leader the country and the world need him to be. For today, I plan to simply enjoy him.