Escaping the convention

Election 2004 | Greater Boston | Building/Consensus
I have very little to add to the convention coverage from the 15,000 journalists and 30 bloggers. I started writing something this morning comparing watching the convention to a baseball game, in which you sit around chatting for the first several innings before all the excitement happens at the end of the game, but, if that hasn’t been said already, I haven’t looked hard enough. So I thought I’d try my unique tack here: escaping the actual convention.

I did a few outrageous things today which I suppose no convention-goer can claim.

One, I gave up my dinner to a homeless man. Sort of. This was a the chance result of my once-indestructible kevlar bike tire bursting out on Beacon St. on the way home in the afternoon. I walked over to Back Bay Bicyles, only to realize that it was no longer there. But the place is the same, the one humble stretch of the Back Bay on Newbury St. between Virgin records and the BAC. So humble there are actually homeless people there. One of them had a bike– so I asked and he brought around the corner to the new location of the store. As I learned in the cycle shop, this homeless man James regular stops by, but doesn’t always bring customers. They fixed my bike, gave me new tires and brakes, and I gave James a finif toward his putative dinner at KFC. Upon hearing that I’d been at the convention, James voiced his support for Kerry, but acknowledged he’s a bit behind on registering to vote. So I skipped dinner; I was late for the next event. And I was supposed to have fasted for Tisha B’Av, a Jewish fast day recalling the destruction of the Temples. One obvious reason we fast, certainly once a year at Yom Kippur, is to truly understand what it means to be hungry.

Similarly, I needed a fast from the charms of the convention. I relinquished my credentials for the evening to someone else– my sister, who supported be throughout my KerryCore fundraising. (here’s a fun fact: convention passes don’t have ID’s on them, and do not even carry a disclaimer that they are non-transferable).

And most spectacularly, I watched the convention with some Bush supporters. This was a result of the a convention-watching focus group organized by Boston’s Jewish Advocate newspaper, who was interested in the opinions of area Jewish voters aged 18-30. As one would expect, these were mostly Democrats, but the gathering brought a few Bush voters and undecideds. I shouldn’t report any details until the story gets published on Thursday. After the session ended, one of the fellows provided a succinct explanation of how he turned from a Gore voter to a Bush voter: “I want a President who wants to kill every terrorist leader. Let’s go after Iran, North Korea, etc.” I would dismiss him since his day job is as a comedy writer, but this does worry me somewhat. I could have asked him about how the Bush administration had passed on the three opportunities to bomb Zarqawi’s terrorist camps in the no-fly Iraq in 2002. But details are too trifling for ideologues. Just kill the terrorist, and damn civilization.

It was also nice to get home, back to the traditional media, to experience the convention as hundreds of millions of Americans would– channeled through C-SPAN, over public radio (in my case, WBUR with superb commentators such as Matt Bai), and reading my favorite writers in Slate provide some useful context and analysis I’d been missing.