Conventions, in their current form, are genuinely archaic, a relic of the old-time political system which once actually used them to pick out a candidate (take a look at JFK’s securing of the 1960 election for a good example). With the state-by-state primary battles effectively choosing a candidate months before the convention, the whole thing has just become a showcase for speeches, spectacle and silliness.
The whole convention kicking off under the hammer-of-the-gods specter of Hurricane Isaac was strange enough – though the storm struck further west, the breathless forecasting cost the GOP a vital first day of speeches and prompted one of Rush Limbaugh’s dumber statements this year.
Then there was the remarkably self-serving stump speech from Jeff Garlin-from Curb Your Enthusiasm-lookalike and New Jersey governor Chris Christie, which felt more like his opening salvo for the 2016 presidential race than an endorsement of the current candidate, bracketed with a lovey-dovey speech from Ann Romney that could have been cut out of a Time-Life “Love Songs of the 1950s” radio advertisement. Talk about mixed messages.
The goofiest of the goofy, of course, comes from the great state of Texas, which – for some inexplicable reason – decided to dress up their RNC delegates in a horrifying state-logo t-shirt and ten-gallon hat, with all of the subtlety of a tidal wave. The delegates ended up looking like a cross between a J.R. Ewing nightmare from Dallas and The Simpsons’ “Rich Texas Guy.”
It’s all very strange and perfectly worth laughing at – up to a point. What’s not funny are the undercurrents of reality that cut through this zoo, from the horrific story of a black camerawoman from CNN being pelted with peanuts to Paul Ryan’s much-anticipated speech that was so full of lies and half-truths even Fox News condemned it and the continuing assault on women’s rights. It’s a circus that could very easily make its way into the highest office in the land in just a few months. That’s scary.