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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lacking conventional wisdom

I’ve been aware of presidential elections since I was 5 years old (in 1968), and I’ve been following the party nominating conventions since I was 9 (in 1972), but never before this year have I seen so much TV coverage of a convention devoted to commentary and so little of it devoted to actual news.

Instead of showing us what’s happening on stage at the Pepsi Center in Denver, home of this week’s Democratic National Convention, the three major broadcast networks and cable outlets CNN, MSNBC and the laughably unfair and imbalanced Fox News have devoted most of their air time to letting analysts and party officials tell us what they think – and what we should think – is happening.

Case in point, most of the anchors and commentators have spent inordinate amounts of time since Monday trying to convince us, the viewers and voters, that there are deep and perhaps irreparable divisions in the Democratic Party between the supporters of presumptive nominee Barack Obama and runner-up Hillary Clinton. Too bad no deep divisions exist. Sure, the two camps have their differences, and I have no doubt that some Clinton supporters will refuse to vote for Obama in November, but the reality is that the vast majority of Democrats will pull the lever for their party’s candidate on Election Day, and the vast majority of Republicans will get behind presumptive GOP nominee John McCain. The election will be decided, as has been the case since 2000 and perhaps earlier, by independents and those few major-party enrolees who truly are undecided at this point.

I mean, seriously, does anyone really believe die-hard Clinton supporters, for whom women’s rights issues are of major importance, are going to vote for McCain, who has vowed to stack the Supreme Court with opponents of abortion rights? And does anyone really believe hard-line conservatives, who are less than thrilled with McCain because of some of his moderate positions, will abandon the Republican candidate and vote for a liberal Democrat like Obama instead? Yeah, right.

The only reason the news outlets are playing up the alleged (read: virtually non-existent) divisions in the Democratic Party this week is because they need to spice up their coverage of an event that otherwise is painfully boring and virtually unwatchable. Put simply, if nothing exciting is happening on the convention stage or floor, the broadcasters have to concoct something that at least appears to be exciting.

And – mark my words – they’ll do it all over again next week, when the Republicans convene for their quadrennial snoozefest in Minnesota.

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