John Brown’s Body

Oddest moments (for me) in tonight’s sporadic convention viewing:

–Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, extolling remarkable Kansas citizens of the past, included John Brown, the abolitionist. I guess it was startling to hear the name of one of the most radical characters in U.S. history, and one generally held responsible for killing five pro-slavery farmers in Kansas, because the proceedings have such a carefully crafted moderation to them. But maybe I’m wrong and John Brown is on his way back as a hero of the New Democrats.

–PBS vs. MSNBC vs. Fox vs. C-SPAN:
PBS: Jim Lehrer looks like he’s sleepwalking through this thing. The New York Times’ David Brooks doesn’t seem to have much insight to add, and no one, Republican or Democrat, has done anything to deserve the torture of watching Mark Shields paw through the proceedings in search of meaning nuggets. We next switched to …
MSNBC: I thought I might be able to stomach Chris Matthews. I didn’t watch long enough to really find out, because of the jittery way he kept leaping from correspondent to correspondent after John Edwards’s speech. Next up was …
Fox: Tuned in while Brit Hume was holding court, and Kate insisted I refrain from switching so we could see what “the other side” is saying. It was surprisingly un-awful — in the context of how awful network news in general has become. Hume’s panel included Morton Kondracke, who termed Edwards’ speech 95 percent positive but took points off for his having uttered the “fiction” that there are two Americas with different levels of privilege; NPR’s Mara Liasson, whose startled looking (not to say bug-eyed) expression explains why she’s not on the tube more often, stuck to her guns in analyzing Edwards’ speech as effective; and the most damning thing conservative lion Bill Kristol could come up with was to say the speech was the most hawkish heard at a Democratic convention since John F. Kennedy was nominated in 1960. Hume’s most memorable contribution was a complaint about the volume of the Black-Eyed Peas performance after Edwards finished. Later on, Greta van Susteren took over and provided a frightening look at face-work gone bad. To recover from the Botox scare, we tuned to …
C-SPAN: Thank the deity, if any, for a channel that won’t get in the way of the Guam delegation’s long introduction (60 years since liberation from the Japanese, 100 years under U.S rule) to its vote.

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