The Big Year: A Look Back on 12 Months of Blogging About the 2012 Democratic National Convention

A month-by-month analysis of what I said then compared to now


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There’s a movie titled The Big Year, which came out last fall, starring Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson. The movie flopped at the box office, and was largely panned by critics, but I sort of enjoyed it when I watched it about a month ago via On Demand.

The main characters in the movie—Martin, Black, and Wilson—embark on something known as “the big year,” where they spend an entire year trying to spot as many birds as they can, particularly hard-to-find and rare species. Comical situations, shenanigans, and hurdles ensue during their journey.

I kind of feel like I just came off a big year in covering the Democratic National Convention on this blog, “The DNC In The CLT,” from September 2011 to September 2012. There were certainly times last year when I was searching for hard-to-find species, I mean stories, when there wasn’t much to report other than requests for proposals being announced by the DNC, and who was awarded what contracts.

And then, like in The Big Year, as the precipice of the DNC approached, we were flooded with birders, I mean national journalists.

In recognition of the completion of my big year, I recap the last 12 months of DNC blogging by pulling out two notable blog posts from each month (26 selected in all out of the nearly 100 I wrote—September to September), and reflecting on what happened since in “what I know now.” (Beneath the date of each post is the original headline, which links you to that blog post.)

[September 19, 2011]
Welcome to The DNC In The CLT
What I said then
We’ll let the politicians play politics while we share stories of the key people, the planning, the events, the successes, the failures, the rumors, and more leading up to the week of September 3, 2012 when an estimated 6,000 delegates and 10,000 journalists will descend upon the Queen City. And not to mention the tens of thousands of other political figures, business leaders, and everyday visitors and spectators who’ll be learning firsthand that uptown is downtown and that center city is uptown and South End.
What I know now
The DNC blog launched and, in many ways, it doesn’t feel like a year has actually gone by.

[September 27, 2011]
Charlotte in 2012 Announces Host and Steering Committee Members
What I said then
Charlotte in 2012, the local organizing-turned-host committee that’s been in place since Charlotte bid for the 2012 Democratic National Convention, officially announced today its Host Committee and Steering Committee members. More than 100 people have been tapped to serve on the committees, representing a who’s who of current and former elected officials from around Charlotte and the state, business executives, and community leaders.
What I know now
Other than Host Committee co-chairs Mayor Anthony Foxx and Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers, most of the other committee members largely played roles behind the scenes. Rogers became a huge media fixture in July when controversy arose surrounding his utility company’s merger.

[October 10, 2011]
The Week that Was: Bank of America’s New Fee + Obama’s Comments = Charlotte Headlines
What I said then
…last week was national headlines run amok, and all it took was for Bank of America to announce it would begin imposing a $5 monthly debit-card fee to customers. And for the president of the United States to comment during an interview that banks “don't have some inherent right just to, you know, get a certain amount of profit, if your customers are being mistreated.” It didn’t take long for journalists, bloggers, and critics to analyze and assess that President Obama was challenging the bank whose headquarters is in the city where he’ll accept his party’s nomination next year.
What I know now
BofA scrapped plans for the debit-card fee a few weeks later. And continue reading ahead for more on how the big bank and President Obama would intertwine.

[October 28, 2011]
What Dish Would You Serve the Obamas?
What I said then

Harvest Moon Grille was serving Uptown diners tasty lunches from its popular orange food cart before it opened the chic restaurant inside the Dunhill Hotel last year (and continues to operate the food cart). Well, the farm-to-table restaurant has kicked off a contest to determine the “Signature Dish of Charlotte,” to help the city’s culinary identity for the DNC. They want you to create a dish that expresses “the Queen City, who we are, what we are known for, and what Charlotte is all about. Put it all on the plate. All ingredients must be local.”
What I know now
In June, Harvest Moon Grille began serving the dish created by the winner of the contest. I’m not sure, however, how well the Belly Bun, a pork belly sandwich on a corn cheddar biscuit, was received.

[November 23, 2011]
First Big Shindig Announced for Week of Democratic National Convention
What I said then

According to a recent press release, ONE, the global anti-poverty organization co-founded by U2 rock star Bono, and Politico, one of the country’s top political news websites (and newspapers), are joining forces to co-host evening events at the Republican National Convention during the week of August 27, 2012 in Tampa, and at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte the week of September 3. The events will be held the Wednesday night of each convention week—so that’s September 5 here—and will “feature performances by well-known musicians, bringing together some of the conventions’ most high-profile attendees.”
What I know now
While many more high-profile, invitation-only parties were announced and took place during the DNC, the ONE party must’ve flew under my radar once the week arrived. But you can read here about a ONE panel discussion that was held in Charlotte last week with former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, actress and DNC delegate Ashley Judd, Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, and former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

[November 29, 2011]
Harvey Gantt Has a Great Story (Even if It Is Attached to a Plea for Contributions)
What I said then
There are plenty of Charlotteans who will see their profiles raised when national media shines the spotlight on the city next year for the Democratic National Convention. One of those people, undoubtedly, is Harvey Gantt. He’s well known in this region as Charlotte’s first African-American mayor (in the 1980s) and in his current role as a partner at Gantt Huberman Architects. And not to mention there’s an impressive building named after him in Charlotte: Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. Gantt is a co-chair on the Charlotte in 2012’s Steering Committee, and if you don’t know his story, he shared it in an email this morning that asked us to “join the grassroots movement” by contributing money to the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
What I know now
Several more fundraising and get-involved emails would be sent out over the months from Charlotte in 2012 featuring high-profile Democrats, including David Axelrod, Michelle Obama, John Kerry, Harry Reid, and Donna Brazile. Also, Gantt received an early-evening speaking role at the DNC.

[December 14, 2011]
Twelve Days of DNChristmas
What I said then

… it isn’t just those Christmas songs that have become enamored in pop culture that I adore. I appreciate standards like “Twelve Days of Christmas” as well. In fact, I’ve decided to remix that classic ditty, in recognition of the Democratic National Convention being held in Charlotte next year. So I offer you the “Twelve Days of DNChristmas,” which are a dozen things that (I believe) would please the Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) and the Committee for Charlotte in 2012 (host committee) if they would occur.
What I know now
I don’t think any of the 12 tongue-in-cheek items on my list actually happened. LOL.

[December 29, 2011]
Path to 270 Runs Through Charlotte…No Bull
What I said then

Obama for America, President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign committee, released a video today in which Campaign Manager Jim Messina shares the different ways they can get the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidential election in 2012. Messina says there are more than forty pathways to achieve 270, and in the video he outlines five of them: West Path, Florida Path, South Path, Midwest Path, and Expansion Path. “We put the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, in part because we believe so deeply in this map,” Messina says.
What I know now
As I’d pointed out then, in the video Messina responds to the speculation that this will be a billion-dollar campaign by saying, “That’s bullsh*t.” Well, as of July 31, the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee have spent $481 million (compared with $334 million for Romney and the RNC). And North Carolina is ranked fourth in the state-by-state breakdown of how much the two sides are spending on television and radio ads in this presidential campaign.

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