May 22, 2004

Kerry's coy convention.

So John Kerry may have to act coy at the Democratic Convention and just hear that he's nominated and give a big speech about how he's honored to have received the nomination and leave out the big exciting "I accept your nomination" line. This is because, under campaign finance law, upon accepting the nomination, he takes on a $75 million spending cap.

Why did the Democrats schedule their convention 5 weeks before the Republican convention? The Democrats weren't fools. They just assumed their candidate would have submitted to the spending caps that apply to the primary season and would want to get to the $75 million earlier rather than later. But since Kerry opted out of the primary caps, what was predicted to be an advantage became a disadvantage, and now Kerry's looking for a way out. It does seem that Bush and Kerry should both start with the same amount of money at the same point in time. But then does Kerry get an unfair advantage by having his convention at an earlier point? Does the convention do something important to elevate the candidate in the public's eyes? We know there is always a bump in the candidate's popularity rating after the convention. But is it better to have the early bump or the later bump?

It's surprising really that anyone watches the conventions. But then again, I'm surprised people watch commercials. Or read the campaign mail. Yet apparently they do, because look at all that money that is spent on this low quality human communication. It would be better to watch the junkiest reality TV show than to consume this drivel. And we are expected to pay vast sums of tax money to produce this nearly worthless communication, and the candidates have to craft their campaigns to satisfy the law that comes along with the money, and we are expected to take into account whether this crafting is too sleazy as we judge a candidate's worthiness for the Presidency. So now, instead of talking about the substance of issues that Kerry will affect if he becomes President, we need to waste a lot of time talking about what we think about a big nominating convention with a nonacceptance speech.

So I hope Kerry does try to pull this coy maneuver, because it will help teach people to ignore the conventions. It might even make them reconsider their support for campaign funding and the complicated regulation that comes along with it.

UPDATE: Thanks to Instapundit for linking to this. (It produced an Instalanche that jammed the Sitemeter, so I'll have to check my "score" later.) Ideoblog also has linked, and I especially like the line "It depends on what the meaning of 'accept' is," especially since I was just wondering (see post just above this one) how well Kerry is going to do juxtaposed with Clinton.

FURTHER UPDATE: And thanks as well to Lucianne.com. Here I was expecting a quiet little Sunday, and suddenly all the Lucianne fans are here. Welcome, go ahead and look around.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

The scary part is this man could be our next president -- and he's just now figuring this out. Hello! It's called backwards induction! Nothing nuanced about this -- i.e., can't bull shy your way around this one.

Anonymous said...

Other fun ways to abuse the system include stealth candidates who are just there to collect money to (most likely) tear down the other party's presumptive nominee, or (less likely) support another candidate of his party through issue-related ads, or (least likely) tear down another candidate of his own party.

Then there are the theoretically independent committees. Then there is the fact that if you can be called "media," there is no limit on you at all.

Meanwhile the First Amendment takes a beating every time speech is denied because it fell on the wrong side of all these silly distinctions.

Anonymous said...

Ok... So, if I was running the Bush campaign I would keep my mouth shut and let the Dems go ahead and see if they can pull this off with FEC approval. Then if they do, pat them on the back and say "Good Job. I think we will postpone ours 5 weeks as well... I mean, we have to do something with all this money right? Hell, its not like we have more than one nominee or anything... (chuckle) Take Care."

Anonymous said...

The DNC no longer serves any purpose as the candidate has already been selected and isn't going accept the nomination. As a result it's going to be nothing but an irrelevant tax payer funded party in Boston. To add insult to injury the security measures effectively shut down Boston for the duration of the convention and cripple the highway system in eastern Massachusetts. The whole event has become a self serving sham and will accomplish nothing except costing people time, money, and convinence. It's the worst PR a politician could make in their home state. Unfortuantely its typical of Massachusetts politicians to be selfish and self serving at the taxpayers' expense

Anonymous said...

I agree with a poster above. Bush should hold off until the last two weeks to "accept" *his* party's nomination. Then go on a two-week, $75M spending orgy.

Oh wait, there is that "60 day" thing too. I wonder how Kerry is going to get around THAT one. I guess he could not accept the nomination and then have a judge rule that he is actually a TV station in addition to a person.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if the Bush campaign had't tried to get the convention so close to the anniversary of 9/11 this wouldn't be an issue.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Adam said...

I'm pretty sure the reason the Dem Convention is so early is because the Olympics are taking up two weeks in the middle of August. And the Republicans are going later than any other convention since at least 1860.

Ann Althouse said...

Well, the Olympics are from August 13-29, and the Democratic Convention is from July 13-29. I don't see how the Olympics debate can explain the Convention being that early. There's a two-week gap in there. Also, the article I link says:

"When Democrats scheduled the convention, they didn't know they would have a nominee who skipped primary public financing and its $45 million spending limit. They thought that as in past years, the nominee would finish the primaries close to the cap, with months to go before the government financing arrived."

I'm sure there are many factors that go into setting the date, and steering clear of the Olympics may have been one, but it seems to me that the Olympics have more to do with the Republican convention, which begins on August 29, the day the Olympics end.

Ann Althouse said...

And let me add, the Democrats picked their date first, so maybe they were being strategic and hoping to force the Republicans into conflict with the Olympics. (The usual pattern is to have the conventions about a month apart.) I don't see how you can credit the Democrats for avoiding conflicting with the Olympics and also act as if the Republicans were doing something wrong by going so late.

irishlass said...

Ann - you are correct. The dems picked a date late in July, hoping that the GOP would be forced to hold their convention during the Olympics or ignore tradition and go before the Dems. The GOP outfoxed them by holding their convention during Labor Day weekend. At the time the Dems howled about the unfairness of it all.

If the Euros boo our athletes at the Olympics, the GOP will get a bounce, followed by a bounce from the convention and a third bounce from 9-11.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine, with Kerry's record of nuance and dithering, that the Kerry folk are really considering this as a real plan. The story does much more damage than any financial gain he could derive by the finesse. Perhaps the idea is to create some doubt about his actually accepting the nomination thus generating more interest in his speech at the convention. Then Kerry can dramatically ACCEPT the nomination, looking decisive and non-venal in the process. The news cheerleaders would eat it up.

Anonymous said...

Kerry will repeat the mistakes of Lyndon Johnson and leave after four years despised by the public.

Anonymous said...

As I watch this farce I wonder how anyone can take campaign finance law seriously.