Wednesday, August 29, 2012

#GOP2012: Wednesday 1210 hrs.

Many thanks to Sally for her timely analysis of last night's events, much of which with I agree.  My apologies for getting to this so late, but it was a late night, followed by an early starting and action packed morning.  Here goes.

When last we chatted (yesterday morning) I was predicting a day of work, which I did in fact, wind up doing.  Around 3:15 though, I headed over to the MD delegation hotel to catch the bus to the fun.  On the front end of the trip, the buses were scheduled to take us directly from our hotels to the Forum; on the way home, we would take buses from the Forum, to Raymond James Stadium, to our hotels.  This detail becomes important later in our story.

A total Baldwin
One of the things I discovered yesterday was that there are two main downtown venues....the Convention Center, which is largely a media operations hub, and the Forum, where the convention is.  I alighted from the bus and decided to meander around in the Convention Center, which is pretty much your standard, everyday, major American City tradeshow venue kinda place.  The trade being plied there this week however, was PRESS....print, web, radio, name it, they were there.  I just walked around, figuring I'd see famous or nearly famous people.  The first person I happened upon was the sanest of the Baldwin Brothers, Stephen, who happens to be a fairly strong Conservative. He was having a big time, stopping for photos and generally sucking up the dying light of fading celebrity.  Fading celebrity seems to be the kins of celebrity we Republicans are generally stuck with, another point I'll get to later.  I also saw Old, Mean Sam Donaldson preparing for a radio broadcast, and I reminded myself that no matter how semi-famous the man is, I still consider him to be an ass.
Sam Donaldson

After I sufficiently poked around the Press (I admit, I was hoping to bump into Jonah Goldberg from NRO in order to hand him a CW card) setup,  made the long, hot walk back to the Forum for the Convention.  It really isn't that far, but there is a maze of security in place reminiscent of the Green Zone, which lengthens any walk downtown.  Adding to the delay is are the security checks which I have been passing with flying colors.

Once inside the Forum, I had a decision to make. My semi-official status as a straphanger with the Maryland Delegation entitled me to nosebleed seats with the hoi polloi--but they had a great line of sight on the stage.  Through my connections with my favorite Democratic lobbyist, I got a pass to a "suite" that promised free food and drink--but which was located directly behind the stage, leaving one to enjoy the convention solely on the copious flat screens in the suite.  I made the decision to head to the nosebleeds, where I stayed for the duration.  A couple of observations?

1.  One's likelihood of being interviewed by the foreign press increased dramatically as a function of how ridiculously one was dressed.  Texans were favorite targets, as the uniform of the delegation was cartoonish western garb, which seemed to serve as the baseline for their guests.
2.  There were some fantastically overdressed people there.  I was in UVA frat boy garb (blazer, tie, white shirt, khakis) but the dandies in seersucker and white bucks were out in numbers, and ladies dressed for evening chic were everywhere.
3. Huge fail, as far as I am concerned, is that no food was allowed in the venue.  You had to sit out in the hallway and consume your chicken strips and heavily salted pretzels.
4.  This is a very friendly, very energized crowd.  I'm doing my best big brother Tom impression by forcing myself to be gregarious, and it is returned in spades.  I find myself wondering if the atmosphere here is what it was at the Kerry 2004 Convention....a bunch of people walking around asking themselves how America could possibly vote to keep THAT guy in office.
5.  The delegates on the floor are just plain rude.  They simply don't pay attention to the speakers, with the exception of the marquis draws.  Unwashed in the exo-atmosphere were quiet and respectful, even though we could not possibly have been heard.
6.  I realize Country and Western is GOP House Music...but it simply is not my cup of tea.  And if we have any hope of increasing minority representation, we need to add a little "flav-a" and some Latin vibes.
7.  The stage and background look wonderful from my seat, but when I watch the jumbotrons, I get a little carsick.

Now, on to the speakers.  I'll take them from late to early, as that will ensure fresher memories.

1.  Chris Christie.  I liked the speech, and it was a very good speech.  But I did not love it and it was not great.  Too much first person singular, and not enough Obama bashing.  I was looking forward to the big man throwing great helpings of red meat our way, but he was a bit more reserved, possibly thinking about his future.
2.  Ann Romney.  Brava.  Bravura.  One of the best speaking performances I have witnessed in person.  A bit fast at first, she hit her stride and really nailed it.  I found myself sitting there thinking how wonderful it must be to be Mitt Romney, and have a wife who would sing your praises publicly, and sincerely.
3.  First Lady of Puerto Rico.  I don't remember her name, but she was great.  Really, really good.
4.  Artur Davis.  If we traded Charlie Crist for Artur Davis, we won.  A great job that really got the crowd moving.If he runs for anything, county sheriff including, he's getting money from me.
5.  Nikki Haley--nailed it, like Sally said.  Very impressive, incredibly telegenic.
6.  Scott Walker--loved the ovations, for a man who has earned them.  Improved or not, he's just not a very captivating speaker.
7.  Gov of Nevada--gave a pretty good speech that no one paid attention to.
8.  Ted Cruz--Sally nailed that one...while he sounded fine and gave a good speech, he looked like a televangelist.
9.  John Kasich--great, great job.  Energy, drive, enthusiasm.
10.  Bob McDonnell--fair to middling.  Nothing exciting.
11.  John Boehner--Boehner gave a very good speech that no one was the first after the break, and much of the crowd hadn't returned, and those that were there were chatting and milling about.
13.  Candidate for LT GOV in Deleware--solid.
14.  Mia Love--Electric--she should have been later, with more time.  I love her story and her values.
15.  Kelly Ayotte--fetching, but uninspiring.
16.  Kathy McMorris Rogers--solid.
17.  Janine Turner--see below.

No question but that this was "ladies night" at the convention...perhaps tonight will be the same.  Clearly trying to feature women in the Party, and I find most of them to be worthy of learning more about.

I split as soon as Christie was wrapping up, and got on the third bus to leave the forum headed to Raymond James to catch the follow on bus.  A great plan gone wrong, as the bus driver (huge number of out of town buses here) got lost, and a 20 minute drive turned into nearly an hour.  Once at the marshaling yard, I then got on the wrong bus (apparently, there are multiple Doubletrees...), which caused me to add a cab ride to the two bus rides in order to get to my hotel.  I tucked in at around 0130, late for me, especially given this morning's 0600 wake up to meet a Navy buddy for breakfast.

After the breakfast, I drove my rental car into the belly of the beast and paid only $10 to park.  My reason for being there was to attend Grover Norquist's "Americans for Tax Reform" "Center Right" coalition meeting.  It was a fascinating forum, held in an air-conditioned tent near the Forum.  All of the luminaries of the conservative movement were there, in addition to Norquist's acolytes from around the country.  Thirty-eight people each gave two minute updates on where their organization was and what they were up to, including Ralph Reed, David Bossie and Ken Cuccinelli--in other words, all the devils of the conservatism.  I really enjoyed this for many reasons, not the least of which was the opportunity to see Janine Turner up close. 
How I like to remember Janine Turner

Janine Turner, as many of you remember, was one of the stars of that charming little TV series (1990-1995) "Northern Exposure".  To put it simply, I had a bit of a crush on her, though I am not inclined to short-haired ladies.  Turns out that Ms. Turner is a bit of a constitutionalist/conservative, which had I known it at the time, would have sent me over the edge.  She gave a speech last night at the convention that was upbeat and solid, but seemed a bit like a pilates instructor rather than a speaker at a political convention.

She was at Norquists gig this morning with her 14 year old daughter who is also a conservative....together they have authored a book for children on the Constitution, a worthy project.

After Norquist's gig, I headed over to the convention center to meet up with a friend working in the communication center for the RNC, and now I'm back in my hotel room where I must have a nap before I begin this night's festivities.

I will likely return to the blog early AM tomorrow before heading to a shipyard down here to poke around a bit, before catching a plane home.  Be safe out there.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with your overview. I have seen Christie a number of times. Clearly a speach for Chris thinking about his own future. Those in our nosebleed seats from other states loved it. In my case it was at the typical level I expect for Chris.

Ann Romney however, WOW! I wasn't expecting much, but WOW! I was in tears, as was the GUY next to me! She started a bit shaky but she made up for it.

Mia Love - Again, WOW! Definitely a name to remember and I really hope she can live up to the speech she gave last night.

Enjoy the evening, quite a few of my favorite are on tonight.

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