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The Boston Globe


Tom Keane

Conventional wisdom is wrong on conventions

THE CONVENTIONAL wisdom, so to speak, is that political conventions, and in particular this year’s conventions, are pointless. Their original purpose — to figure out who would be the parties’ nominees — has gone by the wayside, thanks to the primary process. They are, runs the critique, an empty show, lacking in drama even as they become ever more complex and expensive (over $136 million this year). The major television networks seem increasingly bored, while the 24-hours news stations appear to prefer their talking heads to the events on the floor.

Even the American public is becoming disenchanted: Viewership this year was down from 2008 and a recent Rasmussen poll found 44 percent think conventions “a waste of time and money.” Pundits and politicians both left and right are looking for wholesale change.

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