Gotta Love Conventions

In an effort to get another post in this month, I thought I’d ruminate on the recent Republican National Convention. I know. Snooze time, but really, it’s August 31, and this is my last chance to get something written this month.

Yes. I fell asleep last evening during Romney’s grand finale speech, the culmination of all the previous speeches. This was just prior to the speech given by the Republican Party’s next Golden Boy, Marco Rubio. (You heard it here first. (Well, maybe not first, but near the top.) After Obama leaves office in 2016, they’ll run Rubio.) And prior to that, Clint Eastwood embarrassed himself with his off-the-cuff, unscripted,  pretend-conversation with Obama, where he was able to have the entire crowd imagine him saying “Go fuck yourself” without having to actually say the words in front of all of those God botherers. He needs to stick to movies. Hollywood and politics don’t mix. Think Ronald Reagan. And Barbara Streisand, for that matter. And what exactly was his beef with lawyers? Romney has a law degree from Harvard.

But Romney’s speech, indeed the entire convention, was an exercise in  shallow, vacuous, meaningless platitudes. No substance, no plan, no nothing. Just “get rid of Obama, because, hey, you don’t like the darkie in the White House, now do you?”. {wink, wink, nudge, nudge}. What I heard from Romney before I nodded off was full of lovely images of his childhood, and his parents, and his family, but absolutely nothing about how he’s going to stick it to America what he’s going to do better than Obama. All of the speeches alluded to the wonderful plan the Romney/Ryan ticket has up its sleeve to get America back on track, but I have yet to hear what the plan is, other than a continuation of the tired Bush-era failures. I would love to know what it really is, because if all they have is “cut taxes and spending” and the benefits will eventually trickle down to the unemployed, I really have lost faith in that. That plan failed under Reagan/Bush I, and under Cheney/Bush II, so it amounts to, literally,  “three strikes and you’re out!”.

What is his plan for the war in Afghanistan, for instance? Rubio made much of the fact that Obama wants to get out, and gave his timetable to the “enemy” (are they really our enemy?) but doesn’t mention that we went there in the first place to get Osama bin Laden. We eventually got him, not in Afghanistan, but in Pakistan,  and we’re still there because of Obama’s predecessor. Yet Jeb Bush (who gave a speech prior to Eastwood) whined that Obama should stop blaming his brother for all his problems. I agree. I think he should stop blaming Bush, just as soon as the Republicans stop calling him a failure for not fixing, in three-and-a half years, what Bush took eight to create. Or was himself responsible for what Bush created.

He’d have nothing to whine about if he had some, even a modicum, of bi-partisan support for the legislation he has consistently proposed to fix those problems. Chris Christie, in his keynote speech, made damned sure we knew how well New Jersey was doing “with bi-partisan support”, yet never mentioned that the same support has been purposely withheld from Obama for purely mono-partisan reasons. Yet the Republicans during the convention spent all of their wind power  blaming him for doing nothing, for being a failure, when it was the people in that party that created those problems in the first place, refused to do anything constructive to fix them in the second place, and then used Obama’s inability to get their support as a reason to get rid of him in the third place. (Three strikes, they’re out!)

I conducted a little experiment in convention watching. The first night I watched the convention through the eyes of MSNBC. As regular readers will know, I tend to be liberal/progressive, so I find the commentary on that channel a little closer to reality, and far more informative and helpful,  than elsewhere. I really enjoy Rachel Maddow, and when Chris Hayes speaks up, he has an ability to synthesize the matter in a way that makes sense. He’s a real political wonk. Chris Matthews I could take or leave, Ed Schultz is sometimes OK, sometimes a bit strident, and Al Sharpton is still a blowhard.  But generally they do a good job, combined, distilling the speech and the events behind them. I don’t know if anyone saw their attempt to pin Scott Walker down, but he gave them a good fight, and ultimately they failed. That man is slippery.

I saw some criticism that MSNBC consistently cut away from the speeches when someone of color, some minority, or a woman was speaking. It’s true they cut away from a lot of what were clearly minor speeches. They also left every major speech intact. Ann Romney, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Eastwood, Rubio and Romney himself. I saw them all (except the end of the last one, but that couldn’t be helped). MSNBC wasn’t there, however,  to put a camera on every speaker and step back. If you wanted to watch the speeches, and only the speeches, switch to C-Span. They were there to do what a minority, non-mainstream network does best – give us an alternative. So color commentary, and disagreement, and fact checking and analysis is what they did, and they did it during speakers who were there to simply add nothing but cheer-leading to the event. And they did it well.

Speaking of cheer-leading, the second night I watched the whole thing through the eyes of FOX.  I liken the experience to watching a circus on the Disney channel. “Oh, look! Lions! And trapeze artists! Aren’t they wonderful?!” Hannity and his minions were so breathless in their gushing, enthusiastic praise of all things Republican, it was sickening. And boring. No analysis of what they were saying whatsoever. No fact checking, and this was the night Ryan gave his somewhat truth-challenged speech. – although at least Chris Wallace did mention that the closing of the GM plant in Ryan’s hometown took place during the Bush administration. (To me, it looked like he felt guilty about not being a journalist, and had an obligation to mention it after gushing effusively about Ryan’s speech).

So last night I went back to MSNBC. Unfortunately, the analysis and color commentary couldn’t keep my eyelids from closing. Romney’s speech was the equivalent of two Ambiens washed down with a glass of vodka.

5 thoughts on “Gotta Love Conventions

  1. You’re a better man than I, spanqi! I managed about ten minutes total for the three nights. I tried three or four times, but just couldn’t stomach it.

      • The RNC set the bar pretty low, so to be really fair we can’t just applaud the DNC if it’s better.

        They should do something with that ridiculous scene of Clint Eastwood stammering at a chair.

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