The big question for many this week was whether the wrath of Mother Nature would pound down on the Convention of the Angry God. For now, at least, it appears that Hurricane Isaac is content to stay to the west and probe the levees built in the wake of Katrina – a reminder of the most expensive and one of the deadliest natural disasters in American history. Meanwhile, nature is sending another message from the north, as the volume of sea ice in the arctic has hit a record low. These reminders of the need to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, the desperate plight of the urban poor and the clear evidence of climate change have so far gone unnoted in Tampa. But after all, the reason people go to Florida is to get away from the ice and snow of winter. What disruptions there have been to the carefully orchestrated Republican convention have come from the mouths of Ron Paul’s delegates, who yelled loudly each time his votes were ignored in the official tally. With the big networks limiting coverage to both conventions, the wonderfully ribald process of political horse-trading, rousing speeches and brokered conventions is a thing of the past.
Maybe the process wasn’t any better back then, but it did have more surprises. The results were not so clearly pre-ordained nor were the candidates so programmed to stay on message. Politics perhaps has never been pretty, but it used to be more fun.