The Convention won’t be formally gaveled into session until late this afternoon (a couple of hours from the time I am writing), so I’ll have to hold any comment about tonight’s headline speakers until tomorrow’s post. But even though the Convention has not yet technically begun, Convention-related activities are in full swing.
First up was a breakfast meeting of the New York delegation. Senator Chuck Schumer was the biggest name in attendance today, and he caused a pleasant stir as he greeted well-wishers. While delegates picked through their eggs and toast, they were treated to a series of brief speeches from a number of prominent NY Democrats. I am very glad that my relative unimportance excuses me from this duty, because holding the crowd’s attention is a thankless task. There are only so many original ways to say “Obama Good, Romney Bad,” and delivering the same sermon to the same choir gets old pretty fast.
In truth, preaching to the choir may qualify as the theme for most of the preliminary activities here. After the breakfast, I attended a municipal gathering sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. New Rochelle was one of the smaller communities represented in the room, which included, among others, the mayors of Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Although the event was nominally non-partisan, I doubt there were any Republicans present. The speeches here, like those at breakfast, fit the expected pattern, with an added twist of self-congratulation for the all-important role of the mayor. We also heard from Minority Leader Pelosi, who joined in agreeing that mayors are very important, indeed.
Then it was off to the NASCAR Hall of Fame for a rally in support of reproductive health care and choice, sponsored by Planned Parenthood. Quite a few members of the Westchester delegation attended this one. And, yes, the messages were once again delivered and cheered in predictable form, but the event did have the interesting benefit of combining two cultural icons that one wouldn’t ordinarily put in the same sentence, and it worked! NASCAR and Planning Parenthood — who knew? — the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of the day.
OK. I am reading this over and realizing that it sounds a little snarky. So don’t get me wrong. I truly enjoy a good political speech. And firing up the faithful is unquestionably part of the Convention’s function. When I cheered, it was with real enthusiasm and sincere agreement — I wasn’t just dutifully slapping my hands together. So if I come across as a bit jaded, please chalk it up to impatience. The Convention won’t assume its primary function of persuading the undecided and mobilizing the apathetic until we get to the prime time speeches that are broadcast into tens of millions of homes. I’m just eager for that Main Event to get rolling.
While waiting for said Main Event, this is a good moment for me to offer a big thank you to my friends Ruth and Bill, who, along with their adorable daughters Sophie and Katherine, are hosting me in Charlotte. (On my first night here, the girls put out place cards at dinner. Mine said “Nome.” Close enough! And I’ve certainly been called worse.) Ruth and her sisters are responsible for introducing me and Catie, so her and Bill’s generous hospitality in Charlotte is actually the least of things for which I owe them gratitude.