It’s The Political Silly Season

Ah, our quadrennial political silly season is in full flower – meaning that as I write, the Republicans have convened in Tampa, Fla., and as you read, the Democrats are meeting in Charlotte, N.C.

Now any fool knows that you don’t visit either Florida or North Carolina in August or early September.

Carolinians and Floridians certainly know it. They head north in August or early September, for a trip to the Maine coast, perhaps.

Or if they must remain in Dixie to swelter, they retreat to the great indoors, rev up the AC and hunker down in front of the telly. Perhaps to watch meaningless preseason NFL games.

Or the remains of the interminable Major League Baseball season.

Or empty-headed reality shows.

Or just about anything other than the national political party conventions where, for the past half century or so, nothing ever happens.


The political parties pick their presidential candidates during the primary election season. This year Obama was a foregone conclusion for the Democrats. Poor Romney had to flip and flop and spend his way through a dozen or so has-beens,

might-have-beens, and the totally out-of-place. But, by the end of April, he’d secured the prize.

So why Florida?

Why North Carolina? Because pollsters have identified them as tossup states. Obama carried both in 2008, but this year they are, in the parlance of the political pros, both “in play.”

At this precarious moment, North Carolina is leaning toward Romney; Florida, ever so slightly, toward Obama. So send a few thousand of your number to Tampa and Charlotte. Spend some money. Attract media attention to states with 9.6 unemployment (North Carolina) or 8.8 percent (Florida), and they may give your candidate 15 precious electoral votes (North Carolina) or 29 (Florida).

But the national conventions themselves have become nothing more than exercises in gasbaggery: speech after speech after speech, a few accompanied by silky smooth promotional introductions of the gasbag of the moment, but most just left at the rostrum to wallow in their oratorical flatulence.

And wallow they do. Until its final hour, when Ann Romney and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took the stage, the Republicans’ opening night in Tampa could – at best – be described as rhetorically hapless. How so many governors and members of Congress, all of whom presumably gained high office in part on their ability to give a speech, could give such eminently forgettable ones is beyond comprehension. It was all gas, gas and more gas.

And mendacity. The Republicans had a debt clock looming over their convention hall, ticking off the growth in the nation’s debt. Speaker after Republican speaker blamed the nation’s $4 billion-a-day debt habit on Obama and the Democrats. No mention was ever made of Republican and Tea Party unwillingness to put elimination of the Bush tax cuts on the bargaining table. That unwillingness scuttled at least three mega-deals to slow the growth of debt during the last three years.

No, better the Republicans needed a large Mendacity Meter in Tampa to record the lies and half-truths emitted by their gas bags.

This week in Charlotte, the Democrats undoubtedly need one as well, for gas and mendacity are all these conventions have to offer.