When I first took the plunge and began a career in politics against the advice of my conservative father, I worked for people like Tennessee’s Lamar! Alexander, former Congressman Jim Nussle, and John McCain during his 2000 campaign for President.
Yes, I was a Republican. But I was young and everyone experiments at that age -- I just happened to pick the GOP before making better, more adult choices.
For political junkies like me, our Democratic and Republican national conventions are, to quote Vice President Biden, “a big f@#king deal.”
Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to attend Republican conventions in places like San Diego and Saint Paul and Democratic conventions in Los Angeles, Boston, and Denver. I have to admit that I’ve had a blast at each of them regardless of the politics on display.
Who wouldn’t enjoy an hour of people-watching at a Starbucks in downtown Saint Paul as 75 year-old Republicans quizzically looked up from their jitterbug smart phones with blank stares no doubt wondering, “who the heck is Sarah Palin?” as they learned of McCain’s newly minted running mate.
But 2012 is different. It’s hard to think of anything less exciting than being in Tampa for a week in August with Mitt Romney.
I happened to catch a few of the speeches on cable from the comfort of my air-conditioned living room where at least I was armed with the mute button on my television’s remote control.
Despite taking a while to get there, Romney’s nomination as the GOP’s standard-bearer was a breeze littered with novelty opponents like Rick “don’t Google me” Santorum, Michele “pray the gay away” Bachmann, Ron “Libertarian magic dust” Paul, and Herman “999” Cain, while more serious candidates took a pass instead opting to address delegates from the dais in Tampa.
Republican Governors -- those who skipped 2012 and others who said quite prayers that Romney wouldn’t tap them for his ticket -- were on center stage throughout much of the convention. Indiana’s Mitch Daniels, Ohio’s John Kasich, Virginia’s Bob McDonnell, and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker all took turns at the microphone while New Jersey’s Chris Christie took the larger spotlight, no pun intended, offering the gathering’s keynote.
With few exceptions, this gaggle of Republican Governors with their eyes firmly planted on 2016, devoted the bulk of their remarks to bragging about their own personal life stories and supposed records of accomplishment -- during Obama’s reign of terror no less -- while brownnosing the party faithful with laughable attacks on the President’s record. You would have had to listen pretty closely to hear their praise of Romney and who wants to do that?
It was like the television program America's Next Top Model with contestants smizing for the cameras and patting themselves on the back while they ignore this year's winner who doesn’t go on to be President errr… a top model in real life after all.
For Republicans this time around, the missing faces in Tampa were equally telling.
George W. Bush was apparently too busy clearing twigs and branches on his Texas ranch to give a speech. Dick Cheney’s warm bedside manner must have been needed elsewhere -- a hunting trip with elderly friends perhaps -- because he wasn’t their either. And for all we know, Sarah Palin couldn’t make the trip to Florida because she’s off filming a very special episode of her daughter’s reality show.
You’d think team Romney was hoping we’d all come down with a case of Bush-nesia before the election but when your economic policies resemble Bush’s on steroids, that’s not likely.
At least Palin was there in spirit. No I’m not comparing the fact that she cut her disastrous half-term governorship of Alaska short with how the Republican Party cut its convention short by a day out of fear that a disaster of the natural variety might cause them some logistical problems.
On this I agree with John McCain. Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan to be his running mate was not unlike the Arizona Senator anointing Palin four years earlier.
You don’t need a doctorate in political science to grasp the strategy at play here. An increasingly unpopular Mitt Romney with the whole world watching couldn’t risk the stench of failure that Bush, Cheney, and Palin have come to represent.
I really can’t blame the no-show trio, however, for skipping Romney’s coronation. I couldn’t be bothered to go either and I live for these quadrennial political love-ins.
Forget Hurricane Isaac. It was Tampa in August with Romney. That’s all the reason I needed to stay home.
Karl Frisch is a syndicated columnist and Democratic strategist at Bullfight Strategies in Washington, DC. He can be reached at KarlFrisch.com. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and YouTube or sign-up to receive his columns and updates by email.
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