Post-Party Time!

Jeremy Gantz

Watching the convention live is a strange experience: like any other massive spectator event, it's both more and less immediate than television, overwhelming in the abstract but banal in its details.As Fred Thompson spoke, a couple along the rim of the Excel Center's uppermost deck stood casually eating a box of Mike & Ikes; people stood in concession lines ordering Bud Light, french fries and chicken wings; others busied themselves in corners with cell phones and laptops. It must be hard for many of the party faithful to sustain rapt attention for three or fours or five hours of speeches, uptempo commercial breaks and short biopic videos. No human could manage it.And it's odd, you can barely tell from TV coverage, but the Excel Center is far from full. Even directly in front of the stage, the top deck is half empty.But as the rhetoric soars, striking all the predictable applause lines, the party faithful eat it up. Tonight's prime time line-up had it both ways: Thompson was the hitman (Obama appeals to foreign critics of the U.S., Obama apologizes for the U.S., Obama does not truly love his country, not like John McCain), Lieberman was the transcendent peacemaker.Sitting in the Excel Center, it was clear the party faithful were more energized by Thompson's feistiness than Lieberman's bipartisan testimonial. Maybe that's because Thompson actually roused himself from his normal gruff slumber, while Lieberman couldn't escape his normal measured somnolence -- even as he correctly described our founding fathers' foreseeing the danger of senseless partisanship.All the talk about service and security before party is noble. And Lieberman's right, Washington is hopelessly mired in the two-party system. But the faithful gathered here cannot possibly imagine an American without a Republican Party -- and a Democratic Party to define it against. Can you?Which brings me to Ron Paul's Rally for the Republic today in Minneapolis, the most interesting thing I've encountered since arriving in the Twin Cities Saturday. But more on that tomorrow…

Jeremy Gantz is an In These Times contributing editor working at Time magazine.

In These Times August 2022 Cover
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