If you have cancer, who cares if your surgeon is a jerk!
- Mike Huckabee, while endorsing Mitt Romney I was going to watch more of the Republican convention, honest, but one of the cable channels was running a "Munsters" retrospective and I thought there would be more learning moments in that.
Speaking of "The Munsters," on a purely visceral level, the sight of some of these characters individually is pretty frightening, but to see them all gathered together under one roof in Tampa was downright terrifying. Sununu, Giuliani, Bachmann, Rove, Brewer, Walker. Lordy, it was like watching one of those old Universal horror movies -- "Frankenstein Meets Sheriff Joe."
Looking over that vast crowd feigning enthusiasm for their "Comeback Team," you can't help thinking that the combined wealth gathered there could probably feed the entire world for the next century. And they could care less. All anyone really came away with was a suspicion that surprise guests are probably not a good idea.
It seemed ironic that, not far away from the convention center, a major hurricane raged along the Gulf Coast. It was as if God Himself was trying to remind people of what the last Republican administration's capacity for compassion wrought upon us.
And, if ever there was an apt metaphor for Republican compassion, it was the image of W., comfortably installed in the plush seat of his jumbo jet, peering down at the sodden remains of New Orleans after Katrina. It might just be my admittedly biased opinion, but Bush seems to have the same expression on his face that he did after an aide first told him about the attack on the World Trade Center. As if he wasn't really sure what he was supposed to be looking at much less how to react.
The memory of the party's Ghost of Christmas Past hung over the festive proceedings like a stain that won't wash out no matter how many launderings it gets. The most high profile remnant of Dark Ages II was Condoleezza Rice. The cloyingly cheery Ms. Rice had the unmitigated gall to criticize another administration's foreign policy after overseeing the most disastrously misguided one in American history. It was like listening to Danielle Steel offer a critical assessment of Toni Morrison's work.
The party's escalating assault on women's rights and the resurgence of its every-four-years-like-clockwork pandering to minorities evidently doesn't faze Ms. Rice, who probably considers herself too immaculately credentialed to worry about such trifles.
The speakers who drove the crowd to an orchestrated frenzy (you can almost see the applause signs flashing overhead) did so in a rather unique manner for a political convention -- by directly referring to the man long hailed as the "presumed Republican nominee" as little as possible. The absence of Mitt Romney's name in the speeches spoke volumes about the real level of enthusiasm for their cardboard candidate.
This was probably most painfully evident in the much-anticipated keynote speech given by the governor of New Jersey, the GOP's bombastic, larger-than-life superstar, Chris Christie. I don't think there has been a figure who so vividly reflects the cup runneth over spirit and substance of the Republican Party since Warren Harding died.
Mr. Christie, you probably recall, was often mentioned as Mr. Romney's running mate before the elevation of the clean-cut grim reaper from Wisconsin. It was a prospect that had the element of the party that thrived on Bush-era bullying and intimidation drooling with anticipation. Just before he was set to deliver his speech, Christie was attempting to discredit a story in the New York Post that stated that the governor turned down the opportunity to be Mr. Romney's running mate because he didn't think Romney could win.
Not true at all, said Mr. Christie, who then proceeded to inject Romney into his convention speech with the same frequency that the army mentions the Little Big Horn in its budget requests to Congress.
The only person with any real enthusiasm for Mitt seemed to be his wife, Ann. She may have evoked a nationwide murmur of "gimme a break" when misty memories of the couple's tuna fish days lit the corners of her mind, but she seemed to warm the hearts of the coldest capitalist on the floor of the convention center. Of course, when you are appealing to people whose notion of a dietary crisis is too much salt on the rim of their Margarita glass, the bleak prospect of a can opener is pretty unnerving.
The GOP convention smacked more of a benefit for the Actor's Studio than the gathering of a major political party to nominate its next standard bearer. It was a futile attempt to humanize a man who has been removed from the daily struggles and concerns of humanity for so long that he isn't remotely capable of faking an assimilation with the masses believably, even if he can buy their phony adoration.
Mr. Romney may have gleefully cut his swath through people he no doubt regarded as suckers, but the blood is still dripping off the scythe and pooling at his feet. And it's going to get a lot stickier the closer he gets to November.
Alden Graves is a reviewer and columnist for the Banner.