The Republican National Convention this year is going to be held at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Quicken Loans? The name sounds like it belongs on one of those dingy storefronts where desperate people go to get advances on their paychecks at exorbitant interest rates. It seems like an appropriate venue for the GOP at this particular moment in time.

There is currently a petition being circulated asking the Quicken people to allow guns in the arena during the convention. I was quite surprised that the GOP would even consider a place that didn't allow firearms. It is kind of like trying to imagine Sea World without dolphins. I certainly hope that employees of the various media organizations assigned to the convention consider requesting hazardous duty compensation. If Quicken doesn't agree, I wonder how many people can be jammed into the O.K. Corral?

David Brooks, professional moral uplifter and resident conservative columnist for the New York Times, is positively jubilant about the prospect of a new Republican Party emerging from the ashes of the one that exists today. Maybe they could replace the elephant with a giant bird, although, given corporate America's voracious nature, it would probably just inspire comparisons with Rodan. I am afraid I'm less persuaded by Mr. Brooks' typically high-minded expectations than I am convinced of the old adage that it's mighty difficult for a leopard to change spots.


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The Phoenix imagery should certainly be good news to many of the old guard, however, coming at a time when the two leading contenders for the presidential nomination of the party of Lincoln are sniping at each other over who has the most appropriate wife, the scantily clad supermodel or the lavishly compensated Goldman Sachs executive. It was the logical follow-up to the male appendage-measuring (this is a family newspaper, folks.) contest, a highlight of one of the juvenile brawls masquerading as a serious debate by the GOP wannabes when there was more of them.

It is probably worth bearing in mind that the Republicans were going to submit to a self-induced extreme makeover after President Obama won a second term. Then they were going to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony when they won both houses of Congress in 2014. Look how well those two admirable goals turned out. Elizabeth Taylor had better luck the seventh time she said, "I do."

In lieu of the rising from the ashes shtick, the GOP celebrity roster is casting their lot beside the junior senator from Texas, a character whose personality makes Leona Helmsley seem like a real charmer. Up to his surprisingly successful run for the Republican brass ring, Ted Cruz was mostly memorable for engineering an anti-Affordable Care temper tantrum that shut down the government and extracted an estimated $24 billion out of an already ailing U.S. economy.

Mr. Cruz has said that a person who isn't "down on his knees to God every morning" isn't fit for the White House. It was, of course, just a transparent ploy to attract evangelicals, who seem to hold a disproportionately large sway over politics in America, at least in the minds of those who don't much care about flouting one of the founding principles of the country. Extolling the virtues of a Christian life while you are married to a vice-president at Goldman Sachs is a neat trick and I'd wager that the last time Mr. Cruz was down on his knees in the morning, he couldn't find his other slipper.

It has been quite an experience watching the GOP luminaries making their reluctant acquiescence. Cruz has emerged not so much as a lighthouse on a perilous stretch of coastline as he is the sole occupant of a lifeboat from a vessel now resting on the sea floor. (No doubt, the same rusty hulk that Mr. Brooks thinks can be salvaged and slathered with a new coat of shiny paint.)

Cruz was Lindsay Graham's "15th choice," an endorsement the senator implied that was roughly akin to deciding which set of parallel railroad tracks you prefer to be chained to. The ultimate aim, as I understand it, is to derail the Trump Express by denying him the requisite number of delegates to make his nomination unavoidable. If the plan succeeds, an open convention is far less likely to choose a man who has essentially included women and minorities in his wide-ranging loser directory and whose knowledge of foreign policy extends to the corner on the block where a glitzy skyscraper bearing his name sits in Manhattan.

Mr. Trump's primary achievement thus far has been to actually lower our perception of national politics from the sub-basement level established after eight years of concerted, calculated Republican nay saying and obstructionism, to a sewer level in which their frontrunner encourages rioting if he doesn't get the nomination and actually enlists the help of the National Enquirer to smear a competitor who, it is generally conceded, is an even worse choice than Trump.

It makes you wonder if a Phoenix can really rise out of a cooked goose.

— Alden Graves is a regular Banner columnist