THE CONVENTION ? NIGHT 1….So, um, I guess I should do some convention blogging. Let’s see….

I missed Carter and Gore, but I read Carter’s speech and watched Gore on streaming video. Gore was good ? “But you know the old saying: you win some, you lose some. And then there’s that little-known third category” ? and was the first speaker to really get everyone cheering.

And Clinton ? what can you say about Clinton? He knows how to make the wonky interesting, he knows how to personalize stuff, and he knows how to make my wife laugh. And he kept his speech to under half an hour! If the Kerry team doesn’t work the hell out of him during the campaign they’re idiots.

Anyway, all this got me to thinking about TV coverage of the conventions. I’ve long thought that there was no point to network coverage anymore since they’re nothing but long commercials for the candidates these days. But lately I’ve been feeling swayed by the argument that that’s the whole point: they are long commercials for the candidates, and once every four years the networks ought to suck it up and let the candidates make their pitch to us raw and unedited.

Maybe so. On the other hand, of course, anyone who wants to see the whole thing raw and unedited can always tune in to C-SPAN and watch to their heart’s content.

On the third hand, not everyone gets C-SPAN. And network coverage is different: for a lot of people it defines what’s really news and what isn’t.

So I guess I’m not sure anymore. But I’ll say one thing: I’ll bet ratings for the convention coverage will be higher than expected this year. In 2000 the talking heads all talked about how crucial the election was, but no one believed them. Gore vs. Bush in an era with no truly defining differences didn’t seem like such a big deal. This year, though, everyone believes. And I’ll bet a lot of them are watching.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan is practically a one-man cheering squad for the first night of the convention. Weird. He sounds like a guy who very desperately wants to believe in Kerry.