Every four years, TV executives agree to allow Democrats and Republicans to air lengthy political infomercials for free. These ads, better known as the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, are an opportunity for presidential candidates to pitch their candidacies to an audience considerably larger than the party die-hards they were talking to during primary season. It’s a rare chance to preach beyond the choir.
The stars of these informercials are the people who are given speaking slots during the evening (a.k.a. television’s primetime). Primetime speeches go to three kinds of party stars: current candidates, respected party elders, and up-and-comers that party leaders are grooming for future national candidacies. You’re not allowed on stage during primetime if party leaders think your presence hurts the party.
Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain, both of whom were the leading GOP candidates in national polls at points during the presidential primaries, were not offered speaking slots at the convention.
I point this out as a sort of “we told you so.” The “we” being all the people who told you Georgia and the GOP should be ashamed for inflicting them on the rest of the country. By excluding them, GOP leaders are confirming “we” were right and “they” were wrong. Georgia’s biggest national political superstars are the GOP’s embarrassing cousins. Guests are coming over? Quick! Hide Newt and Herman!