Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ay Pee

Greetings from the Washington DC Convention Center, where I am covering the NEXPO conference for WhatTheyThink. While four days of the newspaper industry may be more than flesh can bear, I did have the opportunity to attend the various Associated Press events at which the three Presidential candidates appeared.

Monday morning, I attended the AP annual meeting where Senator John McCain spoke (a basic stump speech) and then fielded some softball questions from AP reporters. While I am certainly not a McCain fan, and at times it seems as if the "Straight Talk Express" was run by Amtrak, he did make some points that I agreed with. For example, he was asked if a McCain Administration would be "more green" than the current administration. (Well, unless he has plans to personally burn down the Amazon rain forest, take up panda hunting, or club manatees, that would not be hard...) and while he is short on specifics (like any other issue, it seems), he did say that a focus on environmental protection, "Even if we're wrong and there is no climate change, the worst that will happen is we leave a cleaner planet to our kids." he also said what I have been saying for years which is why not use environmental issues to encourage
entrepreneurs and investors and drive economic growth through green products and services.

Still, McCain did seem a bit disingenuous when he started his speech by expressing mild annoyance at how the press picks up a line taken out of context and makes a false controversy out of it, then at the end of his speech he chided Obama for the gaffe du jour about the "bitter" remark. Um...what's the difference?

McCain--unlike Obama (see below)--was also conversant about the journalist "shield law" legislation which is currently wending its way through Congress, and this, as you would expect, is a big issue at journalism conventions. When he said he would sign it, he got a big round of applause, although he did say that he was only marginally supporting it as he was opposed to journalists giving away national security secrets to the enemy (what--like al Quaeda had no idea that we were tapping their phones? I think it would be more newsworthy if it turned out that we weren't!)

Anyway, while I can't say that I would ever vote for McCain, he seemed like an affable enough guy.

Shortly thereafter, I got to attend the AP luncheon at which Barack Obama spoke and, I have to say, I was somewhat less than impressed with Obama. His stump speech was less tailored for the event than McCain's, and at times seemed a bit more shrill and "on the attack" than the event really warranted. When asked about the shield law, he answered in very general terms, as if he had no idea that there was pending legislation. His answers to questions, even very simple ones, went on forever. I was reminded often of the Monty Python "travel agent" sketch where Eric Idle starts talking and doesn't stop until he is dragged away ("...and fat German business men forming pyramids, and frightening the children, and if you're not at your table spot at seven you miss your bowl of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup, the first item, on the menu of international cuisine....and bloody Watney's Red Barrel....")

It was like: Q: "Senator Obama, wiould you like a glass of water" A: "I have traveled all iover this country and visited many small towns and in some of these small towns hardworking Americans drink water, but in others, they don't drink water, but they still have the utmost respect for water. I think a glass of water is one of the most fundamental things that binds us together as Americans..." Please stop talking!

Anyway, I guess that's a handy way of limiting the number of questions there is time for.

Still, I do like Obama, and I like his basic approach (but from what I have read of what he specifically plans to do...well, not so much).

What struck me about both these events (and Hillary is speaking in about 2 hours--gotta go queue up for that shortly) is that in a room full of reporters, they asked the lamest-ass questions. ("Senator Obama, how do you feel about the excitement that your campaign has generated?" WTF?) Although 0ne classic gaffe was when the chairman of the Associated Press, who was asking the questions, made a Freudian slip reference to "Obama bin Laden." OK, not a huge issue, but come on... In a conference that has done nothing but extol the virtues of journalists, they certainly didn't put on a very good show.

Off to see Hillary....

1 comment:

jcavuoto said...

I must disagree. Even if John McCain did personally burn down the Amazon rain forest, take up panda hunting, and club manatees, he couldn't be worse than the current moron-in-chief. In fact, even the most creative digital fiction writer around would have a hard time creating a character more evil and incompetent than this fellow. Glad you're getting to do some useful work though.