Celebrating The Political Parties' Parties

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Weekly commentary by CBS Evening News chief Washington correspondent and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer.

Today's convention comes on the 100th anniversary of a Democratic Convention in Denver that nominated William Jennings Bryan to carry the Democrats' banner.

Contrary to the belief of many of my colleagues, I did not attend that gathering but I have been to a couple since.

I attended my first Democratic convention in 1968 and every one since, so this will be my eleventh convention with the Democrats. Next week will mark my tenth with the Republicans, so I've been to 21 in all.

I have to say that first one for me was the most memorable - not for political but for personal reasons. My first daughter was born nine months to the day after that one. As she later remarked, Chicago in '68 wasn't all fighting in the streets.

At another Chicago convention in 1996, that same daughter met the guy she married.

How could I not like conventions?

For sure they aren't as spontaneous as they once were - they're more infomercial than nominating conventions.

But they are still important, the rare time in American life when so many of us take a break, gather round the TV, and concentrate on the same thing at the same time - a combination of goofiness, political spin, bombast, talent show and serious business, deciding who we want to lead the nation.

It may not be the most efficient way to do it, but it's the way we do it, and it seems to work for us.

I guess conventions are an acquired taste, but I wouldn't miss one for the world.