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Political Play of the Week

Conventional politics surrounds political conventions

By Bill Schneider
CNN Sr. Political Analyst

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The game is political chicken. The players are the two political parties. The playing field is the 2004 campaign calendar.

The score: one political Play of the Week.

First the Democrats scheduled their convention for mid-July. Republicans saw a trap. "We would -- if we held it as soon as possible thereafter -- bump up against the summer Olympics by about a three-day period of time," said RNC Chairman Marc Racicot.

That would endanger their bounce -- the party's all-important post-convention lift in the polls. So the Republicans countered this week by scheduling their convention for the end of August, after the Olympics.

Democrats saw a trap. "That might be too much lag time between the conventions. We may lose our bounce," said DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe.

So the Democrats came up with a radical proposal: have both conventions the same week. Dueling conventions. What a concept!

"Literally to have both candidates two nights apart, both put their agenda on, to let the American people decide who they want to be their leader," said McAuliffe.

Turn the political process into a television ratings war. Talk about reality TV -- two shows with over-the-top production values: dramatic entrances, goofy characters, emotional moments, Vegas flash, Broadway pizzazz, elaborate choreography and big finales.

The viewers get to vote with their clickers.

The Republican move this week puts Democrats on the spot. A July convention means a short bounce. An August convention means a GOP counter-bounce.

The Democrats get bounced around the calendar, and the Republicans get the political Play of the Week.

Let's see. The conventions have music, dancing, color, special effects -- everything but a plot.

That's the problem. A lot of people have stopped watching because conventions haven't been a real story for years.




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