This week the nation witnessed the power and the glory of the 2012 Republican National Convention, a four-day long event at which delegates from all 50 states attend rounds of group meetings and social events ranging from casual (jeans and an RNC t-shirt) to high formal (heels, pearls, red power suit) in order to be vetted by more senior members of the party for potential membership. They sang songs, performed skits, and shared with the group what sisterhood means to them, while explaining why they feel that they deserve to wear the letters GOP. This year's theme was "Welcome to Paradise," with beach umbrellas set up around the convention center and women serving tiki-themed mocktails while making sure to avoid eye contact with men. Hazing is rumored to have occurred, but RNC spokespeople have denied this.
Just kidding! Actually it's a fashion show for ten-gallon hats.
In all seriousness, the Republican National Convention is an event that occurs in order to facilitate:
+ the nomination of the party’s candidates for president and vice president;
+ the formulation and adoption of the party’s statement of principles – its platform; and
+ the formulation and adoption of rules and procedures governing party activities, including the process for selecting the presidential candidates in the next election cycle.
For a full description of what the Republican Party thinks the RNC is for, you can check out this helpful handout, which has one of the lowest information-to-words rations of any document I've ever seen. In practical terms, the RNC is for the GOP candidate for President (Mitt Romney) to officially accept his (let's be real, it's "his") nomination, and for viewers both at home and at the convention to either revel in or reel from the party's platform and philosophy. The opportunities in that regard were, to put it delicately, plentiful.
I did not watch the vast majority of the RNC, due to a combination of not having a TV and also not wanting to waste my one wild and precious life staring at that many old white men in American flag suspenders. But C-SPAN has video of virtually every event, from "Politico Playbook Breakfast with Karl Rove" to Clint Eastwood's surprise appearance, which, hahahahaha ohmygod what! But we'll get to that. To fully enjoy this event from your own home, yell out "We built it!" occasionally while you scroll through.
Monday, August 27
Imagine the longest day of your life, and then imagine that you knew you had to do the same thing for the next three days, and then also imagine that Chris Christie and Ron Paul were both there. That's what being at the first day of the RNC was apparently like! Also though, Hurricane Isaac. Remember that, you guys? In deference to the hurricane and also so that the majority of the Republican party could go into media blackout and therefore avoid reference to how badly they failed New Orleans during Katrina, much of Monday's scheduled programming was postponed. Still though, long day regardless.
Clearly some other people also felt the same way, like all of the protesters outside the convention center in Tampa. Here is a lady who looks exactly like my daycare provider circa ages 7-11 to tell you about it. What's your favorite chant? I think for me it's a tie between "The people/united/will never be divided" and "What's disgusting? Union busting!"
Also, there was a Ron Paul campaign rally held at the University of South Florida Sun Dome during the first day of the convention, which is neat. This is sort of like the queers and losers holding an anti-prom on the same night as prom, except that the Sun Dome is a much more impressive venue than Denny's. I am hesitant to say too much about it because Ron Paul supporters will pull some J. Edgar Hoover shit on you if you are too mean to their Ronbear on the internet, but I will say that his opening song is so pathetic that even the ASL interpreter can't pretend that she's excited about it. I would embed the video and/or actually watch it so that I could comment upon it, but it's an hour and 38 minutes long and also it's of Ron Paul, so.
Tuesday, August 28
Lots of super magical things happened on Tuesday! Tuesday, day of kings. And offensive speeches. Also, sidenote, reading the RNC schedule with everyone's official title makes you feel like you're in a sequel to National Treasure. Did you know that John Boehner not only spoke, but was "Convention Permanent Chairman Speaker John Boehner, Presiding?" Do you think he had a sceptre? Or at least a really weird rider? Like eight roast chickens, Nyquil and a bottle of cherry whiskey? Other names to note included Scott Walker (see above w/r/t union busting being disgusting), Rick Santorum, and the 2008 winner of America's Got Talent, Neal Boyd. That sounds like I was making a joke but I wasn't. Here he is. The worst part is all the people waving their Mitt signs above their heads because (I am assuming?) they did not have lighters on them.
But even with Boyd's operatic talents the real star of the show was Ann Romney, Mitt's partner in crime. (Usually in life when I say "partner in crime" it's a cute way to refer to my or another's significant other without gendered pronouns or whatever but in this case Mitt's a proponent of business practices that are so irresponsible it seems fair to call them criminal, making this term very technically accurate!) And you know what Ann Romney wanted to talk to you about, guys? Ann Romney wanted to talk about LOVE.
I want to talk to you about the deep and abiding love I have for a man I met at a dance many years ago. And the profound love I have, and I know we share, for this country. I want to talk to you about that love so deep only a mother can fathom it — the love we have for our children and our children's children. And I want us to think tonight about the love we all share for those Americans, our brothers and sisters, who are going through difficult times, whose days are never easy, nights are always long, and whose work never seems done.
You guys, I don't know if you picked up on this, but Ann Romney is a LADY, with LADYPARTS. You can tell because she just LOVES things so MUCH, which you know all about because you're a lady too! You have lady concerns, right? Like all those other "working moms who love their jobs but would like to work just a little less to spend more time with the kids, but that's just out of the question with this economy. Or that couple who would like to have another child, but wonder how will they afford it." Hahaha, having a uterus and growing children in it, right? Have you gotten the point about what Ann Romney's job here is, or should I beat this horse a little more?
It's the moms of this nation — single, married, widowed — who really hold this country together. We're the mothers, we're the wives, we're the grandmothers, we're the big sisters, we're the little sisters, we're the daughters. You know it's true, don't you? You're the ones who always have to do a little more.
Yes, we do. Like sometimes you just want to make a giant non-alcoholic Manhattan and lay on the sofa in one of your living rooms in one of your many homes and pet your own professionally maintained hair like it's a Shih Tzu while you watch a slideshow of pictures of yourself that you've made one of your servants compile like you do every night to fall asleep, but instead your dumb husband makes you give a speech to try to convince women to vote for him! Life is so much harder for women, especially women like Ann Romney! She would be delighted to explain the difficulty of her own life in greater detail:
I am the granddaughter of a Welsh coal miner who was determined that his kids get out of the mines. My dad got his first job when he was six years old, in a little village in Wales called Nantyffyllon, cleaning bottles at the Colliers Arms. When he was 15, dad came to America. In our country, he saw hope and an opportunity to escape from poverty. He moved to a small town in the great state of Michigan. There, he started a business — one he built himself, by the way.
But that's nothing compared to how hard she had it when she got married to Mittsy!
We got married and moved into a basement apartment. We walked to class together, shared the housekeeping, and ate a lot of pasta and tuna fish. Our desk was a door propped up on sawhorses. Our dining room table was a fold-down ironing board in the kitchen. Those were very special days.
Little does she know how many dolphins she killed during those heady tuna days! Seriously though, if you were even slightly endeared to her and Mitt by this living-in-poverty (in-an-extremely-generous-sense-of-the-word-poverty) montage, it's gone by the next few sentences, where she mentions that when their first son was born, Mitt was enrolled in both business school and law school at the same time. Which a) betrays that her "special days" were perhaps more along the lines of "scrimping and financial austerity" than "poverty" or "lack of access to money, education, and socially privileged spaces" and b) that she doesn't even realize that. This, I think is what kills me about the Republican party and the Romneys in particular, and we'll talk about it again. But they're so disconnected from the experiences of actual underprivileged people in America that I think they genuinely think they're in the same boat. Like, not the same part of the same boat -- they know they're in the fancy cabins on the Titanic while the rest of us are in steerage, getting bedsores and sharing one single potato between six people. But they think that if we hit an iceberg they'd go down with us, and that's just not true. They're trying to appeal to the working-class vote, the working poor vote, the un- and underemployed vote, the votes of people of color and single parents and small business owners and they think this is a relatable anecdote? "I had to be a mom while my husband was in business AND law school!" Someone call Sapphire; there's a story that needs to be told here.
Speaking of telling stories (it's a weak segue just go with it) you know who else talked, is Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey!
Aside from a silly name and being homophobic, Chris Christie is also someone to keep an eye on with regards to the future of the Republican party. There was a lot of talk about the possibility of his running for president in 2012, and when he announced that he was not running, it was with the knowledge that there were many people out there who were hoping he would. So this speech isn't just a window into what a bunch of old rich white people wanted to hear said about other old rich white people and also ~*~America~*~, but also a window into a guy who probably wants to be your next President. So, eyes peeled and ears open, kittens! It's not pretty. (Also, quick question: are there any other contexts besides national political conventions and mediocre free basement indie shows in which it is socially acceptable to have like eight introducers/openers for one headliner?)
This will come as a shock, but Christie also came from a supremely marginalized background, to hear him tell it. "Dad grew up in poverty," and "Mom also came from nothing." Christie lets us know the gravity of this situation by referencing "Darkness on the Edge of Town." (Fun sidenote about Chris Christie -- he loves Bruce Springsteen. LOOOOOVES him. "Born in the USA" is a song about a disaffected vet being abandoned by his country, you guys. It's not like a patriotic rallying cry. Just saying.)
Essentially, Christie talked for a long time about how the key is to look for being respected over being loved, which I believe is code for "It's okay that a significant portion of the country hates us for our policies that specifically target them and their personal liberties; sometimes that's just what it takes, and that's how you know you're doing it right!" Also: elderly people only think social security is a good thing because they've been lied to by Democrats, and also "real leaders don't follow polls, leaders change polls," despite obeying the mandate of the voting public being more or less how a republic works. Perhaps my favorite part was when Christie called Romney someone who "will tell us the hard truths we need to hear." Which, just, like, guys, have you read this? You should read this.
But while picking apart the things in Christie's speech that were misleading, untrue or overblown is more fun, there is a less fun thing to be acknowledged: Christie is a good speaker! And he managed to weave all of these ideas into a coherent narrative that was designed to assuage and validate the feelings of Republican voters in a way that will secure a pitbull-like loyalty from them. He's a talented speaker, and lines like "There is doubt and fear for our future in every corner of our country. These feelings are real. This moment is real" are like trained-hypnotist/controlling-high-school-boyfriend/CIA-interrogator levels of effective at getting an emotional connection, and helping a listener feel like this person is on their side regardless of what their policy says. SO that's an important thing to know about the man who will likely run for president in 2016, barring... actually I just tried to think of an event which could change that course of events and I've got nothing. Stay tuned for that one in four years, kids!
But it would be foolhardy to take away from the RNC only what its attendees want you to via their rehearsed words. It's important to also take into account whether or not attendees also, say, hurl peanuts at media presence and call them animals because they're black! This event has made Contributing Editor Carmen Rios's official Top Five Worst Moments of the RNC. It is unclear who the attendee was that threw peanuts at a camerawoman and yelled "This is how we feed animals" was; all that is known is that she was escorted out and the incident was hushed by the GOP as much as possible. But just to be clear, when we say that it's not clear who the attendee is, what that means is that it is unclear whether she was a GOP delegate or not. Do you feel comfortable saying "no, it couldn't have been a delegate, it must have been someone else, some total nutjob with no real affiliation to the party whatsoever!" Yeah, that's what I thought. Although, as Wonkette points out, there are literally thousands of people at the convention who managed to avoid throwing things at people of color, so really, we should count this as a win! God bless America.
Next: Romney and Ryan's High School Reunion!
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