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POLITICS

Major Garrett's Picks: A Veteran Reporter Rates Democrats' Convention Choices

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Major Garrett wishes that Democrats would head to his hometown: San Diego.(Richard A. Bloom)

Which city should the Democrats pick?

The Democrats should pick St. Louis because President Obama will not run as the Bill Clinton of 1996 but rather the Harry Truman of 1948--the Democrat who stared down a rejuvenated Republican Congress after the GOP won its first congressional majority since before the Great Depression. Truman, the man from Independence, Mo., will be more than a homey metaphor for the battling Obama campaign in 2012; he will be the health care touchstone (In 1945, Truman became the first president to propose universal health care, complete with a government-run health insurance fund that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce denounced as “socialized medicine”).  Plus, Sen. Claire McCaskill, up for reelection in 2012, occupies Truman's old seat. St. Louis is a city trying to rebound and its gateway heritage--a city that looked east and west in its heyday--would also serve as an apt Obama reelection metaphor (not to mention Missouri’s bellwether status in presidential elections: Since 1904, the state has voted for the winner in every election but two, 1956 and 2008).

Which city will the Democrats pick?

Democrats will pick Minneapolis because it fits the Obama narrative, and the Obama team and brand are nothing if not devoted to their narrative. Before Republicans swooped into the Twin Cities for their 2008 national convention, Team Obama got there first, holding a rally at the site of the GOP convention to celebrate Obama's capture of the delegates necessary to claim the Democratic nomination. Minneapolis is a place embedded in the Obama 2004 keynoter story, a reminder of what voters wanted to accomplish that year and how they, to use Obama’s oft-repeated phrase of the campaign, got out of their “comfort zone” to participate in grassroots politics. The message of what voters wanted and what Obama delivered will be central to the president's reelection pitch. Of the four cities still in contention, Minneapolis fits most neatly into Obama’s narrative arc.

 

Is getting a national party convention a booby prize?

Uh, this is a clean, family-friendly website, right? TV ratings for conventions may have declined, but the media crowd and delegate counts haven’t. Neither has the cable coverage. Trust me, no convention city ever tires of “mindless cable chatter.” Just remember that, Mr. President, when you bring your reelection bandwagon to town. Yes, lobbyists have tighter spending restrictions, convention goodie bags have gone out of style (or at least gone so low-budget that they don’t even pack the satisfaction of month-old Halloween candy and insurance company wall calendars), but the people still come, the money still flows, and for two weeks one U.S. city is host to the most repetitive, least important, and most grotesquely over-stage-managed political theater of the cycle. So, I guess, in that respect, yes. Booby prize it is.  

The city that should be on the list but isn’t is . . .

San Diego. Why? Because the weather can’t be beat, the hotels overlook the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay, the convention center has a roof that looks like sails in an America’s Cup race, and because it’s MY HOMETOWN, AND I MISS IT.

Read about the cities vying to host the Democratic National Convention here.

 
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