Jack* and Bob* finally made it to Charlotte. They missed the mimosa brunch but while they waited outside their hotel for the shuttle bus, they sent me this quick update:
Jack: M.C. wants to know what really happened with the change of venue for the President’s speech? Did you find anything out?
Bob: Did you see the movie, “There Will Be Blood?” Neither did I, but I like the title.
Bob: They’ve been fighting about this for the last year. One side said, “We have to have a stadium and a gazillion people like before. Maybe not Greek columns. But something big. Otherwise, it will look like we couldn’t draw a crowd.”
Jack: And the other side, let me guess, said, “yeah, but what if we actually can’t draw a crowd—won’t that look even worse? “
Bob: Yes, plus, no way they are going to get the same level of excitement—So they would argue: “Why not just go traditional this time. Make it manageable, get some movie stars. We can blow the place apart…”
Jack: And the stadium people said, “uh uh. If we do that, the sneering opposition will taunt us. Where are the Greek columns, haw haw. Where is the overflowing stadium?”
Bob: It’s like you were in the room.
Jack: And how about: “can you honestly tell me you don’t think there are 74,000 people in North Carolina who would want to see the President?”
Bob: “Especially if it is free and there are movie stars, rock bands?…”
Jack: Okay, so what happened?
Bob smiled: Bad weather. Didn’t you see the news? Because weather is news, after all. Very seldom happens in North Carolina, so they weren’t expecting it.
Jack: Right. So what’s the upshot?
Bob: There are two sides, and you can guess who they are, because I’m not going to tell you. The side that pushed for the stadium, they may need to get some of those US Air tickets home, because there might not be enough room for them on Air Force One.
Jack: Are they toast?
Bob: Let’s just say, the doubts about their judgment have been realized. They may not be fired, but are officially marginalized.
Jack: Well, it looks like they have papered over it pretty well. I read in the Washington Post a senior Obama adviser said:
“The noise in the room and response to the speech are what people are going to be talking about on Friday.”
Bob: No. they won’t. On Friday, they are going to be talking about the jobs report.
Jack: One more thing, because we are running out of space and I think I see the shuttle bus: What about the platform changes? What went wrong there?
Bob: First of all, as you know perfectly well, the only thing you can do with the platform is hand it to the other side so they use it to bludgeon you. In this case, the Democrats have taken that a step further and laced it with broken glass.
Jack: But how in the world did this happen?
Bob: Once again, crappy staff work. The most passionate believers –who are so wacky you can’t even let them on the stage at 5 o’clock, when nobody is watching– they get a seat on the platform committee. They drag out the platform from the last election and massage the language a little. They may try to beef up certain parts, and someone, known as a grownup, tells them no. In a nice way of course.
The language goes up the line and someone in the White House, the campaign, or both, vet it. The White House may even send some of the more complicated issues out to the various departments to make sure it is consistent with administration policy. All along the way, everyone rolling their eyes, because they know what a worthless document it is…
Jack: When you say “someone in the White House,” do you mean the President? Did the President approve it?
Bob: No way. But somebody did. Let the finger pointing begin. Because nobody wanted the most memorable, unscripted moment of the convention to be Mayor Villaraigosa saying “Let me try that again…”
Jack: Well, nobody in the Democratic party, at least. Here’s the bus.
Jack and Bob are fictional characters from my novel Spin Doctor, which is about politics (not this election). It is economical and convenient to send fictional correspondents to cover news events. The information in this story is fiction, except for the parts that you couldn’t make up.