The unsettling melding of "reality" and "show"
Both parties know they have a problem on their hands — they are making a television show that networks are reluctant to broadcast and viewers are reluctant to watch — and they have responded in different ways. The Democrats have gone leaner, cutting the number of days from four to three, and for a second consecutive cycle are leaving the convention hall for the final day by moving the president’s speech to a stadium.
Meanwhile, the Republicans are shining up the programming side of the equation for an event that was scheduled to start on Monday, but has been pruned by a day by Mother Nature and Tropical Storm Isaac. The G.O.P. has built a richly appointed $2.5 million stage and hired a former news producer from NBC to make sure things proceed in a television-friendly fashion.
This calls for a few words from the late great culture critic Neil Postman: Our politics, religion, news, athletics, education and commerce have been transformed into congenial adjuncts of show business, largely without protest or even much popular notice. The result is that we are a people on the verge of amusing ourselves to death.