After five days of this I'm worn out. The arguing, the fighting, the intramural squabbling over a single issue: is this a blog or what? I raised the issue a few days ago and got some e-mail from folks who were happy to tell me what this thing has to be to be considered a blog. Me? I don't much care. To me, these things are just letters home from somebody who's been away for a week , misses his family, but has been doing some interesting things and meeting some interesting people during his forced absence.
Back when I was growing up, we just called 'em letters from camp. The only difference is counselor Mike isn't here to threaten to shove us down the outhouse if we don't write Mom and Dad and, oh yeah, say something nice about counselor Mike.
But they closed up the camp here tonight, all the counselors got together around the fire and made us all sing Kumbaya and stuck us back on the bus with our dirty laundry.
I successfully got through the week without having to do an actual story about the bloggers, who apparently have been having some sort of food fight. Of course, the Kerry camp -- or is it Camp Kerry? -- made a big deal about these folks who were stuck up in the rafters of the Fleet Center to suck in what was said and dutifully type.
Apparently, the story goes, one blogger who was sharing the material on his blog with the official DNC page, said something bad about the keynote speaker the other night that wasn't entirely flattering and so the DNC dropped his stuff from the official convention page.
This was regarded as scandalous -- the idea that the Democratic National Committee would not allow the official blogger of the DNNC a posting on their site to the effect that "your guy stinks."
I imagine they'll get it settled before the next Democratic convention but you have to wonder: what will be the hot, new way of communicating online four years from now? Any ideas? Maybe we can start it now.
The one thing that is changing -- quickly -- in this country is political commentary. Once confined to the editorial page and then to Sunday mornings, and finally to the cable TV news outlets, political commentary is taking a new form with online add-ons like Flash allowing just about anyone to apply their talent.
At MPR, and I'm sure elsewhere, we talk a lot about getting content from our audience but, because we're converts from the "old media," we still define that word -- content -- as words on paper or, in the case of radio, on tape.
At some point in the future, I think, we're going to have to consider opening up a whole new section of our site to content that is actually new media. I first noticed the possibility with Bushboy.com, the site that went up when Norm Coleman was running for Senate, as an attempt to poke a finger in his eye. What caught my attention wasn't the message, it was the medium.
Earlier this week, my wife sent me an e-mail with a link to a little presentation on a site called jibjab.com (Click that and you'll see the place to get the presentation, but you'll need Flash on your computer). I didn't have any time at all to watch it until at the very end of the convention and I wish I'd seen it earlier because I could've told you about it earlier.
There are a lot of talented people out there with commentary to offer in ways that don't include just text-on-paper or words-on-tape. Are you one of them? Let's talk sometime about where that can take us.
This morning, the DFL delegates gathered as they did all week for their morning breakfast and pep talk. Rob Reiner came to say, well, vote for John Kerry. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich came to say vote for John Kerry, Toby Moffit, the former congressman from Connecticut suggested voting for... well... you get the picture. I had a picture of Reiner, or at least I took one, but when I went to edit it tonight, I can't find it anywhere. But you know what he looks like so close your eyes and think of that image and have someone read the rest of this to you and it'll be just like seeing a picture.
The party is "unified," I guess, although former Vice President Walter Mondale, the delegation chairman, spent a few minutes at the start of the breakfast , it seemed, trying to soothe some ruffled feathers, presumably over the effort to present all votes for John Kerry.
There were only four items on the agenda of party chair Mike Erlandson. But the breakfast is a little like the floor of the convention itself -- people negotiating for speaking time and all.
Three-and-a-half hours later, the "pep" rally ended with most folks having had -- and having lost -- a good amount of their, umm, pep. And as more and more speakers were added and hands were raised to remind the assembled that the last speaker left someone out while mentioning someone else.... you got the sense that bubbling just under the surface is the traditional tug-o-war in the DFL.
Unfortunately, the one group that got pushed aside was the one group that usually gets pushed aside, the kids. The college Democrats, who took a bus trip here, had stayed up for a good share of the night putting together a slideshow about their trip. But as more people bloated the agenda by speaking...and then speaking more... they told the kids their slideshow was kaput.
Too bad because I'll bet the pictures of the trip were pretty interesting, especially since so many got up to speak about the need to elect Democrats that by the end, you realized that the present speaker was addressing only people who had previously gotten up to tell them the same thing.
There were exceptions, of course, and here's one that has nothing to do with politics. Mee Moua, the state representative, told the story of crossing the Mekong River as a child, and coming to the United States, learning to speak English by watching Star Trek, and becoming a state legislator. And this week, she's rubbing shoulders with presidential candidates and some of this country's most powerful people. Strip all of the politics away, and that's about as neat a story about the possibilities in life as there is.
The one name I didn't hear all week -- and I heard a lot of names -- was Rep. Collin Peterson of the 7th District. Now, keep in mind that if you were running anywhere in Minnesota, somehow or other, your name got invoked at these things even if you weren't here. I never heard Peterson's.
He's a conservative Democrat, to be sure, and there aren't many of those left. Next month, one of them is going to address the Republican National Convention in New York.
Let's go to the mailbag
Bob, what do the Bostonians recall about John Kerry's time as a senator? What did he achieve or contribute that the folks you meet can remember? -- K.F.
I won't bother going into detail here, especially since I sent a reply personally to KF earlier today because I wasn't sure I would use her question. But all of the other submissions I got today were mostly affirmations that, yes, I really do look good for 50. And, umm, keep 'em coming.
Anyway, the Boston Globe did a good series on Kerry that took a look at his pathway. You can find it right here.
I liked seeing your pillow back support at the hotel work station. Have you ever had a "good" hotel pillow that wasn't either like concrete or flat as a pancake? Seriously, this behind the scences view gives a better flavor of "history in the making" and I like your perspective of things Boston has done -- but no world series yet for the baseball team! -- M.M.
Well, first, yes, I have had some great pillows but only once. Last week, my son and I went to Cincinnati to watch a Reds game and we stayed at the Westin Hotel in downtown Cincinnti and it was quite luxurious with great pillows and hangars in the closet that aren't configured so you can't steal them. So there you go.
As for the Red Sox, hey, the day the Red Sox win the World Series -- like the Cubs -- is the day they become just another baseball team and this becomes just another baseball town. Bostonians don't quite realize it, but their misery is actually a source of pride and if they were to become a championship team, they wouldn't be miserable anymore and would actually be happy for a short period of time; a fact that would ultimately lead to their unhappiness. Very complicated stuff. Politics is easier.
Do you have a transcript of the speech given by Cheryl Jacques, president of the Human Rights Commission (HRC)? I believe that she spoke at 6:00 pm Eastern Time on Wednesday, July 28. -- CS
I asked the incredibly talented Julia Schrenkler to get in touch with you with the answer earlier today because I was working on the Catholic delegates story, so I know you've probably gotten the answer but for any of you would love to relive the excitement of the convention, here's where all the transcripts are. Just scroll down to find the one you want. (Pssst.... here's the one you're looking for.)
Time to shut down, pack the luggage and try to get out of here before the rush begins (I'm going to visit with my mother for a few hours before heading to Hartford, but I digress). Around 12:30 this morning, I was just finishing up yesterday's ... whever we're calling it ... and I have to write these in the lobby of the hotel so I can hit the WiFi node. I pushed the elevator button and stood there looking at myself in the shiny elevator door. Suddenly it opened, revealing Joan and Walter Mondale, the only riders.
"Good evening Mr. and Mrs. Mondale," I said as I stepped on lugging a laptop and bunch of cords.
"Did you get your story done?" Mr. Mondale asked, smiling broadly as he usually is and giving every impression that he actually cared and me knowing full well that he probably doesn't know who I am.
I said, "yes" and told him briefly the extent of my workload and the door opened on my floor and as I stepped out, I turned back and said, "you know, I was just waiting for the elevator and looking at myself in the reflection and was thinking, ' boy, I looked a lot better earlier in the week.'
The door started to close as he said -- still smiling, as was Mrs. Mondale -- "you couldn't possibly have looked any better."
And that, my friends, is how a great politician gets a vote.
See you in New York.