The Desperately Cautious Leaked Plans for the Democratic Convention

What Women Really Think
Aug. 10 2012 9:46 AM

"Not a Gay Couple": Plans for the Democratic Convention

Oh, so many things to be annoyed by in the plans for the Democratic National Convention as leaked to Politico's Mike Allen. Part of the problem is the chirpy salesman tone. But it's also about how mincingly cautious and generic the planners think they have to be to appeal to the elusive land of mainstream America. This is why I can't stand big political events: In their desperation not to offend, they're offensive.


Allen reports that each night of the convention program will include two people talking about their experience of a contested issue, one praising the president's approach, the other running down Romney's. The casting calls have been soaked in bleach.  For gay marriage, the documents reportedly say, "not a gay couple," but rather a "parent and gay son or daughter." For Don't Ask, Don't Tell, not a gay couple, but rather, a straight soldier helped by a gay soldier, "i.e., medic, in fire fight." For reproductive rights, not a woman who got an abortion or even birth control at Planned Parenthood, but a "husband who talks about how a PAP smear saved his wife's life." All entirely unobjectionable, and as a result, far less meaningful.

Emily Bazelon is a Slate senior editor and the Truman Capote Fellow at Yale Law School. She is the author of Sticks and Stones.