Political Theater

The Political conventions are coming up, and we’re all waiting to see who the candidates pick as their Vice President.  Reporters and journalists are camped out in front of Joe Biden’s house, just a few miles away,  and I am sure this scene is being repeated at all other contenders homes, just in case.

I worry that the Conventions are no longer substantive, but just several days of media created stage craft.  Previews of the convention site make it look more like a Super Bowl half-time show than a stage for discussing the future of our Country.  And I think the money being spent to convince people of one candidate over another is becoming all about effective marketing and less about substance, which is a worry.  Because flash over substance is what got us into this debacle in the first place.

In Delaware,  the locals are both bemused and slightly aghast at the local version of this Show (and Wilmington is historically one of those popular places to try out shows before they hit Broadway) .  A friend of mine is driving her son to track practice at the school within 500 yards from Senator Biden’s house, and said she hopes the brouhaha is long over by the time school starts.  I drove by to see the fuss and ran into New Media Jim, a cameraman from NBC News, so we came back later and dropped off cold drinks and snacks for them.  It’s like a line for fantastic concert tickets, with everyone camping out for days, waiting for the box office to open.

The drama and the wait is fun on some levels- what will it be?  But the days on end of speculation end up seeming a bit silly, really.  There will be a VP candidate, and while I hope it is Biden- I worry that coming from such a small state like Delaware, he might get passed up for someone who has more “prizes” attached to him.

I can’t say that I know Joe Biden very well.  Like all politicians in Delaware, he is very personal, and we see him all the time, at local eateries and coffee shops.  I saw him the day after the Iowa caucuses where he closed his presidential bid, having coffee and I spoke with him for a few minutes.  I thanked him for all the help he’s given the hospital where my husband works and does clinical research.  Joe is a pleasant guy, and while he is a political legend both in Delaware and nationally, he still is just Joe around here.

Delaware has 2 senators and one congressman; two democrats and one republican (respectively).  They are all friends and commute to DC together regularly.  Delaware is so small you have to know not only how to reach across the aisle, but you also know everything you say or do is public, all the time.  Everywhere you go, you run into someone you know, or someone who knows someone you know- the Peyton Place of States.  Also a place with very long memories- people remember who you were as a child or when you first came to town, who your friends were- it’s real life social networking, whether you like it or not.

(For example, a friend was once complaining about another person we both knew in line for a theater performance; her best friend was standing behind her, and word got back very quickly.  My response?  Typical Delaware.  If you have to do character assassination of someone, do it at home, not in public.)

Hopefully, this means Joe will not have any John Edwards problems, and will be the same stand-up guy with a devotion to being a straight shooter, who comes from a State too small to be overly partisan, where pragmatism ends up ruling the day.

Good Luck, Joe.  I hope it’s you.

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