James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist

  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Another Clinton triumph; can GOP compete?

Posted by James McPherson on August 28, 2008

Like Hillary Clinton the night before, last night Bill Clinton did what I predicted he would at the Democratic National Convention, coming out strongly in support of Barack Obama. Bill Clinton gave a maybe the best speech of the convention so far, after getting an opening ovation even longer than that for Ted Kennedy two nights earlier (more cheers, fewer tears).

In other convention activities, the roll call vote offered some interesting drama, vice presidential nominee Joe Biden gave a sometimes touching, sometimes tough (but less effective than Clinton’s) address, and Obama made a surprise appearance at the end. All in all the night was a positive one for the Democrats. Still, the promise of drama outweighed the actuality, partly because the nervous Dems had both the roll call and Clinton’s speech early, not during prime time.

Maybe it was just me being tired and sometimes bored myself, but even the talking heads seemed a bit off after the night’s activities were over–less eager to compete for airtime, less enthused about making pro- or anti-Clinton points. An interesting thought occurred to me as a result. It could be that they’re all getting tired. If so, that might be a negative for John McCain.

Until yesterday, I thought the Republicans had an advantage in terms of potential post-convention “bounce,” because their convention comes just days after the Democratic Convention. In addition, McCain apparently will name his running mate today or tomorrow, in a further attempt to blunt the impact of Obama’s mile-high stadium extravaganza tonight (a reminder: CNN has paid for the best camera angles for the stadium coverage).

Now, however, I’m not sure that I’d want to be in the Republicans’ shoes. After two weeks of the Olympics and this week’s convention, and with summer coming to an end, it may be that most Americans are tired of made-for-TV specials and ready for regular programming to begin. Watching a four-day miniseries that revolves around an old white guy whom everyone thinks they know (and that’s one line the GOP has been pushing heavily, that you “know” McCain but not Obama) may turn viewers away in droves, especially if he selects another fairly dull white guy as his running mate.

Another potential problem for the McCain camp is the fact that a hurricane named Gustav may be bigger news than the convention next week, especially in places like Florida and Louisiana. If Gustav happens to hit near New Orleans on Monday or Tuesday, it might be a “perfect storm” for destroying Republican hopes of getting much positive coverage out of their convention.

Face it, people aren’t likely to spend much time watching a bunch of speeches from mostly white folks in Minnesota, especially if they’re looking to see if black people will again be stranded on rooftops in Louisiana–and how the Bush administration, which McCain hopes to continue in many ways, will respond this time around.

12 Responses to “Another Clinton triumph; can GOP compete?”

  1. I couldnt agree with you more but I really doubt they’re getting tired. They’re just running out of things to say. But my question to you is, what will the media say about Hillary and Bill now that they have shown their full support for Obama??

  2. James McPherson said

    Good question. One apparent story line: The Clintons did only the bare minimum of what they needed to do to stay in the good graces of the party, and won’t be able to keep focusing on Obama instead of themselves for the next couple of months. I don’t buy that, but I heard a version of it last night and expect to hear more of it. Thanks for the comment.

  3. noleftturnz said


    Nice read. We may disagree, but I completely endorse and encorage views that are counter to mine.

    Why all of the “old white guy” jingoism? I find your reliance upon such personal insults to detract from the excitement of your message… It is not about who has the best pigmentation, or…is it?

    Please curb your enthusiasm for the “perfect storm”. Politics aside, my friend, any natural disater that took 2,500 lives (Katrina) or any reasonable facsimile is not something that any commentator should use in hopes of cancelling something as insignificant as a political convention regardless of the party.

    The “potential problem” is for those who will hopefully be spared from the wrath of another natural disaster, not how it affects the “bounce” from tonights “production” for the Democrats or next weeks “four day mini series.”

    I have always said that politics trumps all in the minds of the Democrats. Please, for the sake of the victims of what may come, don’t prove me right again..

    Keep up the good work.

    P.S. I think you made a blonde a little mad on my site..Hope you liked my response to your comment and I hope that you didn’t mind me dropping in to see how those who disagree with me think.


  4. James McPherson said

    Thanks, Larry, for the comment. And I’m glad you check out folks on the other side, just as I do. I think it’s something we all should do (If you’re interested, I’ve written more about that at https://jmcpherson.wordpress.com/2008/06/09/begging-to-differ/).

    Touche’ on the “old white guy” comment after what I said on your blog, though I do think there’s a bit of difference between personal attacks based on an individual’s physical traits and pointing out the obvious–after all, McCain is old (as he keeps saying himself) and white (myself, I’m middle-aged and white). Therefore McCain is more like what we’re used to seeing in political “shows” such as the conventions, and therefore may attract fewer curious viewers, especially if they think they already know his message.

    And please don’t think I’m enthusiastic about the storm, having been through a couple of them myself when I lived in the Carolinas (both much smaller than Katrina, but still scary). I was just trying to point out that if a hurricane hits land–especially in the vicinity of New Orleans–the GOP convention is going to be considered far less newsworthy.

    As a Christian and an educator, I also find many things things that for me trump politics (though admittedly I actually consider Bill Clinton to be a conservative, have voted for independent candidates for president more often than for Dems, and have voted for both Democrats and Republicans in most elections). Of course, I do find politics far more interesting than most things, and think the choice of who runs the country, chooses Supreme Court nominees, etc., is more important than most of what goes on.

    Thanks again for the comment, and the opportunity for me to expand on my own–and feel free to stop by anytime.

  5. noleftturnz said


    I’ll be back. Feel free to stop in and see how things on the dark side are going at noleftturnz..

    I will tell you, James that the 24 hour news business will have a crawl across the bottom, two or three boxes with other stories and another in the center of the screen, all “talking” about what they percieve as the “news”. This will be based upon whatever polls, demographics and focus groups have told them. No disaster too big, no disaster too small. If it bleeds, it leads.

    When the news went for 30 minutes at 6PM and 30 minutes at 10PM, it seemed that they cut to the chase. Today that leaves…23 hours to fill…Isn’t it surprising what they consider “newsworthy” anymore?


  6. James McPherson said

    “If it bleeds, it leads.” That’s certainly true, and something I’ve often criticized on this site and elsewhere. I also am constantly amazed at news “judgment.”

    And I will keep checking in at noleftturnz–thanks. As you can see from my links (and previous posts), though I lean far to the left, I want my students and others to expose themselves to a wide range of perspectives and then to make up their own minds.

  7. noleftturnz said


    Try not to fall over, James. Your students need you. It is rare for a teacher to consider style above content. A well written piece, regardless of its perspective, stands on its own.

    Good for you for recognizing and teaching that the principles of free speech apply to everyone, not just those that agree with us.

    I learn alot from those that disagree with me. That is what happens when we “listen” and when we understand that words have meanings.

    I find that the “art” of listening has given way to the grafitti of screaming on both sides of the discussion..

    No one benefits from such dystrophic discourse.

    Teach them well.


  8. I don’t buy it either James haha.

  9. […] Journalism, Personal, Politics, Religion by James McPherson on August 29th, 2008 It appears that, as expected, John McCain will announce his running mate today in an effort to decrease Barack Obama’s […]

  10. […] to draw the number of viewers that the Democrats did at their convention, for reasons I’ve discussed previously, but her address is bound to draw the curious. Republicans are no doubt hoping that […]

  11. […] impact on the election. I anticipated that Hillary Clinton would fully support Obama, as she and Bill Clinton did. As a result, on the day that McCain took the lead in the polls for the first time two months […]

  12. BestHelen said

    I have found what i was looking for !!! thx )

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