Dana Perino Thinks the Conventions Are So ’90s. (She’s Right.)

Dana Perino was the White House press secretary during the dismal last year and a half of the Bush administration, and every day, every single day, she dragged herself in front of a crowd of cynics and gamely tried to convince them that everything was great. If there is an expert in futility, it is her. So when she wonders aloud why we even bother to have political conventions anymore, it makes you wish someone would listen.

“America has moved beyond this,” she told me this afternoon. “The DNC and the RNC, it feels like 1990s. It looks the same; it feels the same. The hall is the same.” Perino never worked on a campaign, and the only other convention she’s been to was the Republican show in 2004. As a volunteer on leave from an administration job, she was put to use ushering the likes of Liz Cheney and Rick Perry through the basement of a protester-besieged Madison Square Garden. This convention, she’s here as co-host of Fox News’s chat show The Five, the Glenn Beck replacement that has become a surprise hit for the network. She loves doing the show, she said repeatedly, perched at a café table in the museum where Fox has set up camp. But returning to the biggest party in Republican politics has been anticlimactic.

“If you’re gonna keep up with politics,” she said, sipping at a small bottle of water, “you’re doing it all day long every day anyway. So by the time you get to Thursday night, it’s gonna take a lot to wow you.” This, she says, is why the four-day convention should be abolished. Two nights would suffice. And if she were running things, she told me, she’d announce on the last day here that the GOP will never again use public money to throw a party. (That’s what both the Republicans and the Democrats have done for time immemorial.)

The speeches themselves, Perino said, have been “fine.” But—and here you can’t help but hear the burnt-out spokeswoman of 2007—it’s actually a bit unfair that we should even want to be thrilled. “This is not a movie. We make it look like a movie: we even make this big set. And I just think we have these expectations for entertainment that are out of whack with what things really are.” Besides which, she says, there’s a deeper structural problem. “It probably used to be fun at the convention—back when you didn’t know who the nominee was going to be.”

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  1. Wayne Caparas says:

    Right on Dana! And to take your rhetoric one step further, I think the 2 party system is so “18″90′s. It was needed in the day of the Pony Express, but with advanced real time communications, I think it’s time to abolish it, and replace it with a system that allows people who aren’t invited into the “parties” to run for high office. The 2 party system is keeping many great leaders from entering public service. That alone is reason to abolish the broken oligarchy. Thoughts? :-)

  2. Misscheryl says:

    YAY! glad to have found this place.

  3. Lewis Campbell says:

    While I don’t enjoy just a two party system, and for all practical purposes that is what it is, but how far would you go in getting rid of what has become a natural developmental process of the give and take of our system.

    There was a comment not to long ago that the diversified news reporting system has spread via the internet to a level that everyone can have a voice at some level. My point would be yes that is true, but as in all areas of the internet and other communication routes, there is a glut of information; both garbage information and some narrow levels of truth within the mess.

    There is something to be said for the representative type reporting systems like fox or the five and others beyond the millions of lives spouting a mind dump that at times is so viral, so venomous and so self involved that objective reporting gets lost in the nature of the sea it wades itself through.

    My correlative point about the two party system is defined by the nature of what I alluded to about the internet. While our system may be limiting at times, the opposite extreme of opening it up to the masses without regard to some form of vetted system dynamic would far out way the problems we have at present.

    Just because we have the technology to do something, does not always mean that we should. Remember that our ability in the areas of technology and science are growing by leaps and bounds, but the nature of emotional maturity for men and women still for the most part lies; sadly so, in our past.

    My thoughts on it anyway…have a nice evening….

  4. Lewis Campbell says:

    I don’t think Perino is burned out as you alluded to; if I interpreted your point; she just seems at least from my perspective, to have grown a little wiser as to how the fame of being in office and the election process can morph the personalities of those who participate.

    In a piece I wrote sometime ago about John Wayne:

    “If you find yourself in a quandary in the nature of who to believe in, to follow or to be inspired by, look to those who drive you to think for yourself, who will push your nature to that of being the individual that turns you toward the higher road in life. It will never be easy, but it will always be worth it.
    Maybe it is true that the way to become a better person is to create in our minds and in our actions the person we want to be. After others start to believe, maybe we can as well. John Wayne was “The Duke” and in the true essence of what that means, he knew the price of being human and the peace of showing us how to be more.”

    Perino strikes me not as burned out; but more having grown to the wisdom of her experiences and maybe we should listen and learn for a time.

  5. Leia Barrale says:

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  6. Keith Pennington says:

    It totally makes sense that Michelle Obama would like Jane Fonda this is the same person that said when her husband was elected president that it was the first time she was proud to be going American

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