History Amid Hype

I guess I have officially become a member of the media. I have truly become cyncical and suspect of the process and those who hold power.

The realization came while watching last night’s role call at the Democratic National Convention. It’s a tradition that the role call of the states nominates the next President of the United States. While the outcome was never in doubt, the moment was still historic: an African-American became the nominee of a major political party. Whether you are Republican, Democrat or Independent, you must acknowledge the symbolism of the moment and what it says about how far our country has come … and perhaps how far we still have to go.

While I am a reporter, I am also an African-American who should take pride in a moment that was no more than a dream for many who look like me. However, instead of allowing to witness history unfiltered, I was struck by the lack of spontaniety of this moment. Yes, I know political conventions are no more than slickly packaged infomercials designed to sway voters but watching last night’s role call, I did not know what was real and what was rehearsed. I mean seeing people, especially African-Americans bawling and tearful at the official naming of Barack Obama as the nominee struck me as a bit of a stretch. And please don’t tell me I can’t understand the reaction because I wasn’t there. I covered enough campaign stops during the primary to know they are all designed to elicit emotion … whether it’s genuine or not.

Biden & Obama in Denver last night: Part of the packinging of politics

The packaging continues tonight with Obama’s acceptance speech in fronf 73,000 at Invesco Field at Mile High on a specially-constructed stage featuring greek columns created for this one night and this one event. It’s dramatic and it’s striking and all designed to make voters ( white voters in particular ) to continue to feel “comfortable” with Obama.

The other problem I have with his whole made-for-TV show is that history of this moment is being acknowledged by the media covering the event, but not the party itself. Not once did any of the speaker’s mention Obama’s racial breakthough. It seems as if they wanted to avoid mentioning that their nominee was “black”. Sorry to tell you this folks, but he is … and instead of the party trying to downplay it, they need to celebrate it. I doubt the smart voter will be offended if they are reminded, just once, that Barack Obama is the Jackie Robinson of politics.

Still, I will be watching tonight and watching to see what Barack Obama says and how he presents himself to the nation. I can only hope it that he will choose to do it with less packaging and saying the “politically expedient” thing and being more honest about who he is, what he is and what he truly wants to accomplish.

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