After a weekend where I almost came to blows over an air-hockey game, I really need a vacation out of New York City. I just need to grind through one more hot summer week before it’s time for the Democratic Convention. Because if 14 hour-drive followed by four days of protests, open bars and political speeches isn’t the ultimate getaway, I don’t know what is.
First, we need to make it through the Republican convention. Eight years ago, I sat in an Aberdeen, South Dakota trailer, watching the proceedings with dread. The trailer was the “free housing” benefit I’d been offered as part of the meager compensation package bringing me to the rectangle state to serve as a regional canvassing director for Stephanie Herseth, an attractive Democrat running for South Dakota’s House seat. Those were some lonely times.
My co-workers were never in the mood to rage, which led to a lot of solitary drinking at a joint called The Zoo. The first time I went there an angry looking fellow growled at the female bouncer who let me pass, “Why did you let the brown skin in?” She replied, “I had to, Daryl. It’s the law.”
The week of the convention I’d usually pick up beer at the local gas station and retreat to my miniature tv in the trailer. Everything in the trailer was miniature- the bed, the fridge, and definitely the tv. The 2004 convention terrified me. Back then the Republicans were masters of fear, and they had real star wattage. Consider some of their headliners: Mayor Giuliani, who people still admired in the pre “a noun, a verb and 9/11″ era, Governor Arnold, who told Democrats to “stop being economic girly-men”, a non-senile John McCain, and curmudgeonly old Democrat Zell Miller, who challenged Chris Matthews to a duel after his speech. The Republican message couldn’t be clearer: If John Kerry was elected, the war on terror was over, and we’d all be enslaved by jihadists.
Equally terrifying, Republicans, led by their gracious “host”, Mayor Bloomberg, clarified that those who thought differently could get rounded up by the thousands and detained in holding cells all over New York City. Fun fact: lawsuits related to the 2004 convention are still going on. The sad part is that like any case of police misbehavior, the money from any successful lawsuit is ultimately paid by the taxpayers, and the police go back to the same old tactics the very next day. Speaking of the NYPD, did you hear about how all nine of the people injured at the Empire State Building on Friday were shot by the police? The only person the gunman actually fired at was his intended target, his former boss. The whole situation is tragic. Check out this video from :25-:30. It doesn’t seem like the cops on the scene were trained very well to handle this situation. I listened to the press conference immediately after, and in retrospect, it seems like Ray Kelly and Bloomberg knew the injuries were caused by the police officers, as they repeated that the officers were “just doing their jobs” and declined to call them heroes. Given the news report, that a rampager had shot 10 people by the Empire State Building, I found their rhetoric perplexing. Anyway, moving on…
In 2008 the Republican convention was a snoozer except for the Sarah Palin speech (let’s not relive that) and the appearance of Joe Lieberman, who used to inspire so much rage in me that after I wrote, “Smoky Joe Lieberman as Rancid Cockroad of the Earth,” my old boss called me to his office and told me I had to grow up. I’m not sure if I have, but I do know that Lieberman is about to retire with a whimper, and I haven’t felt the same way about anyone since.
As for the 2012 Republican team, they are a return to weak sauce. Does anyone really care to hear what the Tea Party brigade has to say? We’ve heard it all primary season: Obama hates the American capitalist system, which was obviously going perfectly before he became president, and we need to balance the budget by slashing taxes. The biggest source of entertainment might be watching how carefully they tiptoe around the Todd Akin landmine, but knowing these guys, they’ll probably double down on the stupid. Grab your popcorn and stand clear of the closing doors.
Finally, props to Guillermo for setting up the infrastructure for the Peoples Choice Tournament, and props to you for nominating the most eclectic collections of songs we’ve had yet. Oh, the places we will go. Can’t wait to see which song can endure the onslaught of seven challengers and music critics from around the country.