Newton shakes the grim hand of Death
Need to tip the hat to the good doctor Thompson. As you'll see, the reporting of Thursday night's convention coverage becomes a bit...incoherent towards the end.
I had a few drinks to steel myself to watch all of those bored white people sitting around trying to get excited about something, anything, please god, is that a famous singer? No? Is that Boehner? No? Is my sad novelty Colonial foam hat ironic or festive or just sad?
I'd go outside and get out of this red, white and blue funeral parlor for a minute but then I'd be in...Tampa. And it's raining sideways out there.
Goddamnit, Jim, whose idea was this?
Poor bastards. Foot soldiers and grunts with no coherent command, no real battle plan, no morale. You can see them trying to get excited and be happy, like friends at a wedding who know that one of the people up there at the altar is making a terrible decision. Mechanical smiles, pain wet in their eyes, huge foam hats drooping sadly.
So I had a few drinks to get ready and I've been experimenting with very cheap blended Scotch whiskey lately, just seeing what's down there on the lowest shelf at the old Liquor Factory. I stumbled (not literally, thank god) upon Old Smuggler last week and so Old Smuggler was my companion Thursday night. And apparently they're cutting that shit with mescaline or something.
Three shots and you're blind.
Man. If you can't trust an Old Smuggler...?
So. Here's what I wrote down, what I can decipher, anyway.
I'm not apologizing or anything, but I ask you to understand:
Old Smuggler was at the wheel.
CONVENTION NIGHT 2012
TAMPA, FLORIDA, AUGUST 30
MITT TO ACCEPT NOMINATION, OBAMA'S DAYS ARE NUMBERED
RECORD CROWD ANTICIPATED TO CROWN NEW AND TRIUMPHANT KING
ALSO, BLAH BLAH BLAH...
Yeah, no one really cares, clearly.
This is the Big Night and the Excitementometer isn't even plugged in. It's a collective "ehh" from the Republican braintrust/bigwigs/old power network, half hoping Mitt will get buried so they'll still be the smart guys and have a job next year, half hoping that fluke upon fluke, Mitt might win in November, so they're trying not to piss off his guys too bad.
When I tune in, Connie Mack (not the baseball Hall of Famer, but his great-great grandson or something crazy like that) is making the stunning observation that we are in America, we are Americans and the country we call America exists and is a pretty good place. Also, according to Congressman Mack, a lot of important people have lived here and done big things.
I didn't know any of this, so I have to thank Mr. Mack for the revelation.
And I'm having some trouble with this phrase, "Making the American Dream a reality again."
Making the American dream a reality again.
Isn't the essence of a dream that it isn't real?
Or am I missing something or just being another goddamned literalist?
And now, I'm pretty sure this wasn't the Old Smuggler messing with me, but Callista and Newt Gingrich actually walked up to the podium. And no one threw anything at them that I could see. No vat of pig blood tipping overhead. Why Newt, of course, but why the hell Callista?
And then they proceeded to give Ronald Reagan the Lifetime Achievement Award. For something. Certainly not the movies he made. Unclear.
And I need to pull over the car for a moment and say something about Ronald Reagan to you kids in the back. Can't do it while I'm driving, I'll kill us all and everyone else on the road. I get a little blind and start shouting if I don't really mind myself in these waters.
You've probably been told all your life, directly or indirectly, that Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War. This is like when people tell you that Elvis Presley invented rock and roll; a popular, lazy and inaccurate belief. What happened is that Ron, along with his handlers and cronies, won the big Poker Game in the way a gambler with unlimited funds wins any pot he wants. He just kept raising, hand after hand, billions and billions of dollars into a defense industry we didn't need. The Soviet Union had to respond and went bankrupt.
But, of course, so did we. This was not an act of courage or patriotism on Reagan's part. it was a cynical and destructive policy for both countries.
And I'm going to give you two words, breathing deep and slow as I do.
Well then, that will be homework.
Maybe the largest scandal since the Teapot Dome. Nixon was running a half-assed burglary squad and had a slush fund for dirty tricks. Google "arms for hostages" and "dirty money to fund an illegal war". Should come up and you'll see what Saint Ronald had going on.
At this point in the evening I had to take a call from an old friend, so the Old Smuggler and I stood outside smoking and yelling in the yard for awhile. When I came back Olympic Girl was on the screen saying some nice things. Romney saved the Olympics, I'm told, so that makes sense. Then it's Olympic Appreciation Time and the crowd starts that USA chant.
This always scares me for some reason. I think it's the "Yoo-Ess-Ay", which turns the beautiful and simple "USA" into some kind of primitive, infectious and dangerous tribal chant, a war cry, really. Freaks me out a bit every time.
Then the captain of the United States hockey team that beat the Soviets came up and made the Deep Pitch. And this could work, I guess. It's deep. Weird and subterranean and kind of sideways, but deep. Here's the formula:
Mitt saved the Olympics.
The Olympics are global and important.
The Olympics are, in fact, a global phenomenon more important and immediate to real people (athletes and their trainers, mostly, but still real people) than anything else you can think of.
Therefore, in some way, if you follow,
Mitt saved the world.
So clearly, he can save America.
Could work. It's kind of a lateral pass, but those work sometimes. As long as the defense doesn't see it coming.
Sorry, partisan impulse there.
And then, this is where the evening starts really getting weird, I take a good snort of the Old Smuggler and blink my eyes and I see Clint Eastwood at the podium talking to an empty chair. I know this didn't really happen, of course, but it was so realistic. He was pretending that the President was sitting in the chair and the President kept telling Clint to go fuck himself. Crazy.
I'm either never touching Old Smuggler again or it's all I'm drinking from here on out. I haven't decided yet, but it's definitely one or the other.
And then Marco Rubio came out. We'll definitely be hearing from this guy down the road. He's got mostly just blather right now, but he'll get a team around him.
And then the Man of the Hour walked out. Stood there for awhile, June got his pipe, Wally slouched by, the Beaver got mixed up in some kind of shenanigans with that hooligan Whitey but Mitt straightened it all out and started to talk.
At some point I swear he copped to having been the governor of Massachusetts for awhile there. More Old Smuggler lies, I guess, he would never do that in real life. Talked about women as if they were practically equal to men, so that's a tactical shift that makes sense going into the general election. I also thought I heard him saying that praying harder and hugging your kids longer might improve the economy, so that's a novel approach. We don't have kids, but I'll pet the cat a little harder, see if it helps.
The meat of the speech seemed aimed right down the center of the lane, trying to persuade the couple of hundred thousand folks who only voted for the President last time because we were going over a cliff and McCain was clearly unhinged towards the end there. They grudgingly pulled the Obama lever, shrugged and walked out of the booth. It's the right strategy, no question. But once again, and again and again and again, Romney's got nothing except "I'm a business man. He's not. A business man understands jobs and should be the President." And the problem there is that only the first two sentences are true.
The only pure businessman who ever held the office is Herbert Clark Hoover. No joke. He was a mining engineer and an author. And a smart, impressive guy. Had never held elected office before, not even as dogcatcher or treasurer of his bridge club. We put a businessman in the White House in 1929. And then something else happened that year.
I'm blanking. Something big.
Oh yeah. Great Depression. Hoovervilles all across this great land.
I understand the pitch the Romney guys are trying to make. It's just the fact that it's complete and utter nonsense that bothers me, I guess.
Tonight the Democrats step up. We're going to see a lot of the same hoo-haw, of course. But at least they've got a guy who knows what the job is and how to do it.
Old Smuggler just pulled up. Got to run.