For the first time since 1992, I’m not going to either major political convention. In 1996, I covered the Republicans in San Diego. In 2000, I covered both the Republicans in Philadelphia and the Democrats in Los Angeles. And in 2004, I covered the Democrats here in Boston.
I have two conflicting thoughts about my absence from both conventions this year. On the one hand, I’ve never understood the argument that there’s nothing going on. Yes, it’s true that the conventions haven’t actually picked the presidential and vice-presidential nominees for many years now. But, for two weeks, the conventions are the center of the media-political universe. Why wouldn’t you want to be there?
There’s not much happening inside the hall. Outside, though, there are events ranging from parties thrown by various media organizations to demonstrations to substantive, issue-based get-togethers such as Arianna Huffington’s counter-conventions in 2000. A reporter who’s willing to keep moving can find more interesting stuff going on in a week than usually comes his way in a year.
On the other hand, if you think what’s taking place on the floor is what’s really important, then there’s no better place to be than in front of your television, popcorn and beer at the ready. It’s a TV show, so why not watch it the way it was meant to be seen?
I’m not planning to overdose on convention coverage this week or next, but I’m certainly going to catch the major speeches. And, truth be told, my colleagues in Denver will probably be watching them the same way I do — on the tube. Only they’ll be in a press tent and I’ll be home.