With the presidential campaign pulling out of South Carolina -- amid an impressive showing by Sen. Obama on the Democratic side -- we've completed the first round of this four-year race for the White House. And, as the saying goes, things are clear as mud.
Which is great! I remember -- being the nerdy kid I was -- watching late-summer presidential nominating conventions on a black & white TV at a beachfront motel while the rest of my family had fun in the sun outside the room.Now, that was my kind of vacation!
Back then, conventions meant something. For good or for bad, the professional politicians and the true-believers had all the influence. It was democracy in action, at least democracy as it had been defined up until that point. And it was wild to watch and anticipate as conventioneers traded votes and hopes to be the state delegation to crown the party's next nominee.
That all changed with the proliferation of the state primaries when, we the people -- for the most part, anyway -- got to call the shots. The primaries made the conventions almost meaningless and certainly not a good reason to miss a summer vacation.
But perhaps not this year. Both the Republicans and Democrats have real horse races going and it's possible -- oh, I have my fingers crossed -- that convention delegates will actually select their parties' nominees later this year. Sure, the Feb. 5 Super Duper Tuesday -- with more than 1,600 delegates up for grabs -- may change that scenario but, for now, this political junkie is hoping for the return of convention chaos and smoke-filled ... errrr, smoke-free ... rooms.
Meanwhile, we can count on the cable "news" shows to do their best to keep us on the edge of our political seats for the rest of 2008. They, too, are salivating over the fact there are no real front-runners in either race. So be it; I can appreciate that.
What I don't appreciate, however, is the holier-than-thou, I-know-better-than-you-do attitude they bombard us with 24/7. That's why I got a kick out of the results from New Hampshire a few weeks ago. The Chris Matthews of the TV world got it wrong -- again -- and ended up with a three-egg omelet all of their collective, smug faces. Their reaction to New Hampshire voters' always-dependable independence prompted me to write the following to Time magazine. It is the lead letter in Time's "Letters" column this week (www.time.com/time/magazine/article):
Government by the people
You got it right with your cover headline, "It's the Voters, Stupid. Forget the experts. Forget the polls. Forget the TV ads" [Jan. 21]. What the primary results from New Hampshire showed, once again, is the arrogance of the national media—especially television news, which continues to believe that it's the story. The press seemed downright insulted that the voters of New Hampshire didn't vote the way the commentators and pollsters said they would. It's long past time that the talking heads acknowledge they don't have any more political insight than do the schoolteacher and garage mechanic pulling the lever in the voting booth.