There's been a lot of talk about how "staged" these events have become, as many people remember "the old days" when the party selections were really made in front of us on the convention floor.
Columnist Ellis Henican in today's amNew York tabloid decries the staging, from the elaborate set design to the staged applause and banner-waving to media advisories to let the press know hours in advance when McCain's vp choice will be "leaked."
Of course it's carefully staged and scripted. Look what's at stake. I know the preparation we put into a simple news conference to announce something as apolitical and non-controversial as a seat belt enforcement campaign from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, so multiply that by a million times for something that the entire nation and much of the world is watching.
They stage the cheering and the banner waving because it gets on camera and creates an impression. Intelligent viewers understand that the audience is comprised of that party's faithful. Local TV stations and newspapers went last night into the community to get local reaction, which isn't always indicative of everyone. For example, I was at the local Democratic party headquarters in my hometown of Mount Vernon, NY, and 3 TV crews and 2 print reporters or photogs showed up. The local party chair asked everyone to hold up placards and chant for Obama just before a camera crew walked in. Of course it was staged, and only one of the three stations used the cheering footage in their report that aired at 11.
It's all marketing on a very grand scale. Long ago, the politicians discovered that the same methods that successfully sell Coca-Cola, McDonald's, toilet paper and frozen food help sell candidates. Fair or not, that's the way it is.
The responsibility, then, is ours as individual citizens to try to cut through the staging and the rhetoric and try to see what the candidates really stand for and how they propose to lead our great nation. Today, despite all the hype, it's easier than ever to see how the candidates really stand on issues by going to their websites, which do clearly state their positions without much of the rhetoric, without the sometimes stupid questions by interviewers and moderators, and without the bluster and posturing of debates.
Of course, as we make our own decisions and cast our votes, we are taking a great leap of faith that our chosen candidate will, if victorious, remain triue to his word and deliver on his promises. Time will tell.