Thursday, August 21, 2008

Flat World, No; Flat Field, Yes

Councilman Lowery was kidding, but conventions really are a joke.

Posted By on Thu, Aug 21, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Myron Lowery is not running for president.

As a gag, the Memphis city councilman sent out an e-mail purporting to distance himself from an upstart "Myron Lowery For President" movement at the Democratic National Convention, which starts Monday in Denver.

"I'm trying to stop some of my friends from placing my name in nomination for president," Lowery says in the e-mail. He is a superdelegate to the convention.

The do-it-yourself video link — variations of which have been circulating for several weeks — features a bogus television reporter for "News 3" talking about "a growing grassroots movement born on the Internet to elect a virtual unknown to the office of president."

The video clip has all the requisite features, including a talk-show host and former model, mock political analyst Dr. Arnold Franklin, a reporter spouting inanities about "people from all walks of life," and a grandmother who turns her butt to the camera and displays a "Lowery for President" tattoo on her bare lower back.

I confess that it didn't seem implausible. Lowery, a former television news reporter and anchor, has run or thought about running for political positions including convention delegate, council member, Charter Commission member, and mayor.

The list of people who really sought or are seeking the Democratic presidential nomination this year includes (in addition to Barack Obama) D.R. Hunter, Willie Carter, Randy Crow, Lee Mercer, Frank Lynch, and Grover Cleveland Mullins. And, of course, Stephen Colbert. Why not Myron?

"You were not alone," Lowery told me this week. He said he showed the spoof to fellow council member Janis Fullilove, and "she looked at it and her mouth dropped."

Lowery has been to every Democratic convention but one since 1988. He has been a delegate four times. Next week he is supporting Obama, although he began the year as a Hillary Clinton supporter.

"I will not be voting for her" when her name is placed in nomination, despite several entreaties from Hillary diehards to remain true, Lowery says.

In a way, that's too bad. National political conventions need some drama and unscripted suspense. There used to be actual battles over who would get the nomination, what the platform committee would do, whether a peace plank would be adopted, and whether some state's delegates would walk out.

Now the conventions are giant four-day parties for political insiders. They're programming for television between the Summer Olympics and the start of the new fall shows. Watching them is a little like attending the Memphis in May barbecue contest as a spectator and watching the tents full of people drinking, cooking, eating, and having fun.

If the Democrats or Republicans want a plank for their platform that really gets people excited, they should support moving up the opening weekend of the college football season to the first week of August, damn the heat, baseball, and summer vacation. Give red-blooded Americans what we want.

We've overdosed on the Olympics, and there is almost another week to go. We know way too much about Shawn Johnson's quest for the elusive gold, about Misty and Kerri and Phil and Todd and beach volleyball, about synchronized diving and the secret to Chinese dominance.

I don't want to read another Geoff Calkins column about the danger of cycling in Beijing, the brilliance of the Chinese in ping-pong, or the lovable losers of swimming. I don't want to watch Bob Costas, with the seriousness of a judge at a murder trial, question Bela Karolyi about the unfairness of gymnastics judging or see Brian Williams and Katie Couric coming to you from the Bird's Nest.

I don't want to watch conventions orchestrated in every detail as the culmination of an endless campaign to pick the leader of the free world, appease the Clintons, and choose a running mate for a job once compared to "a bucket of warm spit."

I don't want a flat world and global marketing and China against the U.S.

I want a flat field and Ole Miss against Memphis, surrounded by a crowd of people screaming about something that pretends to no more or less importance than first downs, interceptions, touchdowns, and bragging rights.

Let the real games begin.

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