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No Excuse Necessary

12:34 PM, Jul 5, 2012 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
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Some high profile candidates have decided not to attend their parties' national conventions later this summer. This is news, but one is inclined to wonder why. After all, would you want to spend three days in August, listening to speakers as they introduce some "great and distinguished American" who will then launch into an hour long recitation of stale applause lines before a couple of thousand people who are paying absolutely no attention?  The speaker could read pages from the Obamacare legislation and not a member of the audience would notice.

Obama crowd

Would you go if the event were held in, say, Charlotte, North Carolina?  How about Tampa, Florida?  In August?

Would it tempt you to know that absolutely nothing of consequence would be accomplished at the event?

The surprise is that anyone actually wants to attend one of these things and, even, that the conventions survive at all. They no longer serve the purposes they once did – namely, nominating the party's candidates and debating its platform. These things have already been settled.  

Evidently, the television networks still put some store in the conventions and it is surely fun for their people to get together somewhere away from home and carry on in the tradition of Chet & David, reporting news that isn't news. The cable operations probably like the conventions since they don't involve a real shift in programming. Merely a change of scenery and sets.

And those candidates who choose not to attend? Well, cynics might think that it is because they are afraid some party identification might rub off on them and they won't be able to get rid of it before Election Day.  Best not to be a Democrat from, say, North Carolina, running for reelection to Congress, and remind people that you and President Obama belong to the same party. As Ed O'Keefe writes in the Washington Post:

[with] neither party getting more than 50 percent approval in polls, some candidates are not eager to fully embrace their party affiliation.

One can't actually say that, of course, so another explanation is required. But this is easy enough.  

Some [candidates] plead scheduling conflicts with their campaigns or their kids. 

They are skipping the convention, in other words, in order to "spend more time with their families."  

Works every time.

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