he declared that he would not bother to cover the 1996 Democratic convention in Chicago.
Some critics are recommending that future national conventions be limited to two days or less, since the presumptive nominees have already been "selected" months earlier in the presidential primaries. Recent conventions, they argue, are far more concerned about selling rather than nominating candidates.
Party leaders, however, show no evidence of wanting to abandon national conventions. After all, the presidential candidates and their parties receive valuable cost-free network exposure to millions of Americans. National conventions invariably give nominees a "bounce" in the polls--at least temporarily. Future party leaders are born and potential nominees are showcased at the party conclaves. With divisive issues swept under the table, the delegates leave the convention unified and supercharged to carry the fight to the opposition. More than ever, the conventions mark the opening kick-off of the general election campaign. While the "smoke-filled room" decision-making has almost disappeared and the nominating function of national conventions has been transformed into a coronation ceremony, the entertainment and advertising functions continue to expand. Indeed, as one veteran West Coast reporter commented shortly after the two-act soap opera in San Diego and Chicago, "Political conventions, like democracy, are a work in progress." 39