A few random thoughts on the presidential campaign:

Whew. The conventions are over. Can we vote, already?

For the most part, conventions are scripted, infomercial-like affairs. Both the Democratic and the Republican conventions were historic for their firsts — a black man nominated by Democrats for president of the United States and a woman nominated by Republicans for vice president. The rest of it was predictable — canned speeches, balloons, confetti and delegates in goofy hats.

Eight weeks from today, we can go to the polls. Eight more weeks to scratch my head about these events. Here are some of the things I'm pondering:

• Barack Obama is all about change, he says. In many ways that's true. Why, then, pick someone who has served 30 years in the Senate as his running mate? Joe Biden's international affairs experience is a boon, no question. But why not New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson? He's had a hand in some very delicate diplomatic talks with the North Koreans. Plus, he was Secretary of Energy in the Clinton administration. We have an energy problem, don't we? Besides, he has experience running a state.

• Then there's John McCain's selection of running mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Only 40 percent of Americans in a recent ABC News poll believe she's qualified for the job. It's a legitimate concern when the 72-year-old presidential nominee has had two bouts with melanoma. (Then again, his mom's 96 years old and going strong.) It should be interesting, too, how Democrats finesse the "experience" question regarding Obama.

• While doing my grocery shopping this weekend, I couldn't help but notice 17-year-old Bristol Palin was plastered on the cover of every tabloid and "entertainment" magazine. While all — Obama included — insist this is a private family matter, it's naive to believe — in this media age — that Bristol Palin would be treated with kid gloves. I grieve for this girl because this is not the sort of attention she needs right now.

• Speaking of naive, I must confess that I did not fully appreciate how the Obama campaign uses the Internet. After Michelle Obama spoke at the Democratic National Convention, I wanted to tell her how much her speech meant to me, particularly as she spoke about her father's struggles to work full time while coping with multiple sclerosis. That resonated with me because of my loved ones who have MS and have the same challenges.

So I did a very silly thing. I sent an e-mail to the campaign. Ever since, I have received "personal" e-mails from Michelle, Barack and Joe Biden nearly every day. (Perhaps I'll be purged from the list because of my remarks above.) I wrote Michelle Obama knowing there was the slimmest of chances she'd ever see it. Now I receive e-mail constantly, which isn't quite what I had in mind, either.

• Speaking of personal contact, no sooner had the Republican Party Convention adjourned than I received a "personal" telephone call from Utah Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert. It was a recording urging me to help elect McCain and Palin. It was a recorded phone call that came to my desk phone at work. The funniest aspect of the call was being told that the recording "may repeat." Thanks, Lt. Gov. Herbert. I got the message the first time.

• Although I've pretty much had my fill of campaign 2008 — which has been going on nearly two years now — I look forward to the presidential and vice presidential debates. It will be interesting to see how the respective candidates hold up outside the protective cocoon of their respective political conventions. Although debates are largely scripted events, too, they're perhaps the most interesting aspect of the campaign season.


Marjorie Cortez, who desperately misses NBC's Tim Russert's take on the presidential campaign, is a Deseret News editorial writer. E-mail her at [email protected]