By now, the Tampa Bay Times Forum will have been cleared of all the trappings of the Republican National Convention. Soon, the media will pack its bags for the Democratic National Convention later this month, which, like the Republicans,’ is not even necessary. At least in Obama’s case, there won’t be groups agitating for any other candidate. Whereas, the GOP had to pass underhanded rules ex post facto, in order to stop the liberty delegates’ efforts to nominate Ron Paul. Those rules also included specific language, so that at the next convention, every single delegate there will have been hand picked to support the heir apparent. The dialogue and delegate maneuvering that gave meaning to national conventions in the past, will not be seen again, unless there is a force strong enough to change these draconian rules. Clearly the entire event was scripted, as Ben Swann pointed out.
Thursday night at the forum, prior to Romney’s coronation, a press conference had been called. At a main entrance, hundreds of liberty delegates had gathered to talk to the media about the new rules. Most of the press didn’t have a clue, and this was an opportunity to educate them. A news release was distributed that told what had happened the week before in the Rules Committee meeting, and how efforts would be made to defeat the changes.
Reams of bright yellow paper had been printed with the word, “Grassroots,” and the liberty delegates printed either their state or “I Am” above that word. Television media were conducting interviews, and I saw Ashley Ryan being questioned. From Maine, Ashley’s the youngest National Committeewoman. She wasn’t part of the 50% cut from her delegation, but it still didn’t make the axe any less painful. Several dozen delegates stood silently, holding their “Grassroots” signs in front of them, forming a gauntlet that the rest of the delegation passed through. I didn’t see any real acknowledgment from them. They were going to the coronation, and it was obvious they thought “those Paul people were just a bunch of annoying sore losers.”
At my delegation’s seating in the back of the hall, many seats were empty. Nevada Delegate Chair, Wayne Terhune, certainly wasn’t going to show. It would have been too much for Wayne to witness the crowning, and he also had his own mortality to think of. Already, angry editorials had been printed in Nevada newspapers of how Terhune stole delegates’ votes for Ron Paul. What these writers didn’t know, was that each delegate made their own decision on how to vote, and Wayne was just the spokesperson. I commented about how that, “Awful flu bug hit the delegation,” hoping that people would think the empty seats were due to illness. There certainly was, though, AMPLE reason to be SICK at this point! In reality, many delegates just refused to witness the final act in the GOP play, and those who were there, were protesting by staying seated.
One of our Nevada delegates, Jim Uprichard, made the rounds of the media in the mezzanine the entire evening, wearing his “Minority Reports” t-shirt. When the Reports had been voted down, and not heard on the floor Tuesday, a shirt had been hurriedly silk screened, of a woman with her mouth duct taped. It made a good intro for telling the press about what had gone on in the Rules sausage-making.
A young man asked if he could sit beside me, “Sure! Who are you?” The youth, in the official Republican uniform of khaki Dockers and blue blazer (half the men at the convention wore that combination) responded, “I’m “Matthew” and I’m a page. They want to fill in the empty seats and have signs waved, so I’ve been doing that all this week.” Upon further questioning, I found out that he was a volunteer, as all the pages were. They were put up at some Best Western out in the sticks, bused in every day, and fed a diet of Taco Bell. Then I asked “Matthew” about his background. He lived in Maryland, was 18, and a sophomore in college studying Dairy Science, raising cows for his 4-H projects. Our next dialogue was all about – you guessed it – RAW MILK! “Matthew” couldn’t believe all the stories about the FDA and the persecution of raw milk producers. He leaned in and began asking me question after question. Instead of jumping up and waving his Romney sign every 30 seconds, he put his head next to mine so he could hear me above the noise of the crowd, and I indoctrinated him into the liberty movement for over an hour.
It was a great way to pass the time, as I could barely keep my eyes open. I’d only gotten a few hour’s sleep the night before. Speakers droned on and on, and the singers didn’t provide much interest either. When was Romney going to be crowned? In the midst of this, Jeb Bush was talking about his family. Prior to his speech, a propaganda piece about the Bushes was shown, and people cheered and whistled. Jeb started going on about how people had choices. In milk, for instance, there was chocolate, cherry, skim, etc. I waited for a pause in the list, and screamed, “RAWWWWWWWW MIIIIILLLLLLLLLKKKKKKKKKK! Heads turned and I’m sure people wondered, “What on earth is that crazy woman sayin’?” “Matthew” and I smiled together, as he was incredulous that people were getting arrested for that lawbreaking lactation. He was definitely going to Google the issue when he got home.
I asked him who were those people I’d seen all week, wearing the green ball caps with the Romney “R’s” on the front and communicators in their ears? “Those are the “chanters.” They get messages from the RNC telling them what chants to start.” Oh, they were the goons who started the “USA” chant when we were demanding, “Seat them now,” during the Credentials debacle Tuesday. Yes, this whole deal was scripted and we were just stand-ins for the RNC’s production.
“Matthew” and I continued to sit and talk as the speeches far away on the stage continued. There were pockets of liberty delegates like me, who voiced their protest by sitting there for the entire evening, but the empty seats were filled in with Romney supporters or pages like “Matthew”. An angry woman turned in towards us as she strode down the aisle. “He really is a kind & decent man!” she chided. “I’m sure he is a kind & decent man, ma’am, but that doesn’t make him a good President,” I responded. She harrumphed and stalked off…
When Marco Rubio had his turn at the podium, the “homemade sign” brigade went into action. Out came, “Hispanics for Romney,” and “Women for Mitt.” “Matthew” told me that the pages made the signs. “They just brought a ton of posterboard and paint and we made signs for the whole convention.” What a contrast to Ron Paul and his supporters’ homemade signs. Unlike Romney’s they’re all genuinely original.
The state-of-the-art video screens were suddenly filled with a graphic of “The Outlaw Josey Wales.” Clint Eastwood (Dirty Harry was here?) strode from behind the stage, up to the mic, and began to talk about how we needed to fire Obama. It was what one would expect, except that he stumbled, and didn’t speak into the mic. He acted like an amateur, and later the newspapers said it was because he was unscripted. We all knew nothing was said in that hall that hadn’t been microscopically scripted by the RNC, and the Teleprompter rolled continuously. I’m sure you’ve seen Clint’s embarrassing segment by now. Even though I have no affection for Obama, I still thought the obscene reference was an embarrassment, and not something to say at a national convention being beamed all over the world.
Camera crews continued to circulate in the aisles but a group coagulated near the entrance that Ron Paul had used when he visited us Tuesday. Lights focused on the black curtains, Romney made his entrance, and the people went wild. Their crown prince had arrived!! Up to the stage he bounded and launched into the same tired speech he’s made for years, just thrown up into the air and rearranged. When he got to the part about Iran, he scolded Obama for not punishing Iran for their nuclear activity. How dare Obama not add Iran to our list of undeclared wars? From up in the gallery some very brave soul yelled, “Bring home the troops! End the wars!!!!” Again, heads turned, eyes scanned the crowd. “Who was that impertinent man who had the audacity to want peace? Didn’t he know to not spoil the coronation with that Godawful peace stuff?” I think there were a couple other outbursts, but I didn’t hear or see them. My friends who were seated up above in the Alternate section, saw some people being dragged out near the stage. I guess “liberty & justice for all” has a different meaning to the RNC.
FINALLY, it was over when it was near midnight. Good thing, as I was this close to turning into a pumpkin. The balloons and confetti rained from the rafters, and everyone made a beeline to the stairs from the floor.
As we walked back to our car, I saw one of my favorite personalities broadcasting to the crowds with a bullhorn, “And if I’m elected president, EVERYONE will get a PONY!” It was Vermin Supreme! There he was with his famous towering black rubber boot headpiece. It’s symbolic of our government’s jack booted thugs. I’d seen Vermin in the New Hampshire primary coverage, spreading his message. “Hey Vermin, carrying on for Wavy Gravy?” I asked. “I sure am!” he replied. It made me feel good to see someone mocking this convention, the crowning and the entire process of picking a president. In fact, I’d vote for Vermin over Mitt Romney any day. After the past two weeks in Tampa, having served on the National Platform Committee, attending the Rules and Credentials Committee meetings and four days of convention, culminating in the nomination of Romney, I think of the RNC as more of a joke, than the jester on the street that night promising ponies for all.