Bob Franken




It was an experiment that went well, and presumably also will work for the Republican convention. But a little suggestion, if you don’t mind. How about adding pre-recorded crowd noise, like they do in Major League Baseball telecasts? It’s still jarring to see the empty stands surrounding the diamond, but the phony canned audio is a move in the right direction.
Itt certainly would add to the virtual political convention experience. You could even get ambitious and add specific scenarios, like occasional crowd outbursts of “Four more years!” and cheering and booing. Although you must make sure you have a really good audio person. Otherwise, he or she could press the wrong button, and as the nominee speaks he is drowned out by loud booing.
For that matter, it is certainly possible to superimpose images of crowds packing a fictitious arena. This time the video person would have the responsibility to make sure the “spectators” aren’t carelessly selected from some archive somewhere so you don’t end up with stands full of soccer hooligans all displaying the international one finger gesture of defiance or a Nazi salute or some other embarrassing gesture. That could be a sensitive matter for the Republicans and their emperor, Donald Trump, given his affinity for white supremacist hate groups.
Speaking of which, it will be interesting to see who the Republicans put out, particularly since it’s a Donald Trump one-man show. As far as that is concerned, the Democrats’ convention (or whatever that was) could have passed for a Donald Trump one-man show. Whether they were party luminaries or “ordinary people,” all of the speakers had one thing in common: They despise President Trump, who they describe as the one responsible for bringing America to its knees. Then they shot a few Roman candles in the air and went home. Oh, wait … most of them were already home. Now the GOP gets its chance, holding its variation of a virtual convention, ending, it turns out, with a fireworks display, too. Then it’s on to the fireworks of the campaign.
It brings up an interesting question: Is a party convention, with its crowds and all of its time-consuming pandemonium, really necessary, or has it been exposed as an anachronism? The party higher-ups held out for a convention till the last minute, knowing how much the delegates like to party. But COVID reality dictated the final result: a relatively dignified, slickly produced coronation, without all the hoopla.

It’s a shame that officials haven’t been able to face the COVID reality throughout. The Trump administration has not exactly covered itself in glory — certainly Trump has not, with his wacky misinformation. As a result, the United States of America is still exploding with the coronavirus, leaving anyone with good sense to cower in fear. Those who don’t have good sense can be found at any bar or university, wherever young people gather. Or you can simply look at the faces of those you encounter. Those who don’t have masks on should be required to put a scarlet letter “S” on their forehead for “stupid.”
We are about to begin the ugliness of a campaign, leading to a vote on Nov. 3, assuming that Donald Trump and his voter suppressor accomplices haven’t figured out a way to cancel the vote and just install Trump as leader-for-life. So far he’s tried sabotaging the post office, since most Americans will be voting by mail, and challenging the election, calling it “rigged” or something like that.
He’s already succeeded in undermining the credibility of the country’s right to collectively decide who our leaders will be. But then, he never is constrained by institutions, or constitutions. Whatever works for him is just fine. The problem is that given all the power of the presidency and Trump’s “whatever it takes” attitude, it could be dangerous.
It certainly will be full of wall to wall lies. Buckle up, Americans, and bring your umbrella to protect yourselves from the spitstorm.

© 2020 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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