A hallmark of American coverage of the Olympics is the way it takes the viewer "up close and personal" -- involving the audience in the personal lives and struggles of the athletes. In its portrayal of the Obamas, the first night of the Democratic convention took a similar approach -- fitting in seamlessly with what audiences had been watching on NBC for the last two weeks. The warm personal vignettes, the family scene at the end, and the stories of relatives were all designed to run up the score on what Slate has called the "sap-o-meter." And, given what TV audiences covet, it probably worked well.
But close personal portraits only work if the athlete in question wins the event. Tune in Thursday to see how that goes. The next two days belong to the runner-ups.