*Well, it looks as if hurricane Isaac won’t be showing up at the Republican Convention in Tampa, Florida, after all. Through a spokesperson, the rambunctious Isaac, at press time, headed to New Orleans instead, issued a statement asserting that the planned goings-on at Tampa Bay Times Forum present too much hot air even for a hurricane.
Political conventions, no matter which party is doing the hosting, are where ninjas of double-talk show off their skills. This is where code words, institutional mistruths and not-so-masterful myths rain like the confetti designated to fall after speeches so filled with bullshit that the next day manure manufacturers threaten class act suits, charging product infringement.
As I watch the pageant of congressmen, senators, governors, mayors and others bend, twist and knead words to reality’s absolute outer limits, I can’t help but think we’d have found a better way of doing this by now.
Consider: politicians, vying for their party’s nomination, first drag one another through the mud before the losers then offers hardy endorsements to a guy who just weeks earlier talked about his mama. Then again, Rick Santorum, who lost out to Mitt Romney, is the same guy who called President Obama a “snob” for saying that every American deserves the right to a formal education. This, even though Santorum has three degrees.
Or how about John McCain, who, after the ever indefatigable Vice President Biden’s infamous “[Republicans are going to put] Y’all back in chains” quip, publicly advised that if he were Obama, he’d consider getting another presidential running mate. This nugget of insight from the man who chose as his 2008 running mate the vacuous Sarah Palin. After breathing life into that monster, if McCain told me my own name, I’d have to get another opinion.
At the center of it all is Mitt Romney, who appears to be a nice enough guy but who isn’t even wanted by his own party; a man some important Republicans didn’t even bother making their way to Tampa to support, using the weather as an excuse.
But remarkably, Romney–paired with the, nerve-rackingly eager, duplicitous Congressman Paul Ryan–is the best the Republican party can do. And so they turn up the rhetoric and the hypocrisy, say a Hail Mary and hope for the best. “Who knows?” goes the Republican’s unspoken mantra–“anything can happen.” And, it can.
Layer that thinking with the unmitigated desperation of this bunch, and you’ve got a revue, equal parts embarrassment and entertainment–the latter in the macabre kind of way when you come upon a car wreck where it’s uncertain if someone might have died, but the Jaws of Life is on the scene, so you stick around.
Refresh the batteries of your TV remote. Break out the movie theater-size box of Dots. Because if you thought the last presidential campaign was tempestuous, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Election 2012 is going to be ugly. It already is. And it’s going to get worse. Popcorn, anyone?
Steven Ivory, journalist and author of the essay collection Fool In Love (Simon & Schuster), has covered popular culture for magazines, newspapers, radio and TV for more than 30 years. Respond to him via [email protected].