The profoundly uncomely audience seemed to mostly consist of people who ladle beef gravy over their morning corn flakes and did their gosh-darndest to validate every negative stereotype ever concocted about how white people can’t dance. They were enabled to be the antithesis of funky by a toxically cheesy house band that ran through Michael Bolton-sounding renditions of old Beatles and Motown songs. We had wondered what happened to former SNL bandleader G.E. Smith after he died. Now we know. He plays guitar for the Republican Convention house band. On the closing evening, American Idol winner Taylor Hicks came out and shook his gray-haired tush during a cover of an old Doobie Brothers song, causing the crowd to persist in dancing ineptly.
We suspect there were snipers perched in the nosebleed section with orders to shoot any speaker who deviated from the tightly controlled yet lifeless script. Speaker after speaker informed us that what makes America “America” is its uniquely American sense of Americanness. Everyone was either a son or daughter of immigrants who came to America with a dream—yes, a rag-to-riches dream to build a business with their own hands, to start a steel mill or a meat-packing plant with their own callused claws, to have the opportunity to create jobs, and to be free to freely engage in free enterprise. There was much talk of “personal responsibility” but not a whisper of who was personally responsible for putting on such a boring convention.
House speaker John Boehner appeared to be three sheets to the wind on Wild Turkey for the entire proceedings. Callista Gingrich seemed as if she’d eaten an entire tree of Prozac. Mike Huckabee, possibly jealous of Chris Christie, materialized to let the world know he’s putting all that weight back on. Ann Romney said, “Tonight I want to talk to you from my heart about our heart,” confusing everyone about which frickin’ heart she was talking about. Rick Santorum said, “I shook the hand of the American dream, and it has a strong grip.” No, we’re not kidding. Those were his words.
A doddering and possibly half-senile Clint Eastwood spoke to an empty chair which was supposed to represent Barack Obama but more suitably reflected the entire convention’s empty message.
Perplexingly, Mitt Romney may have been the least plastic of all the speakers. His speech wasn’t bad, but it needed to be great, and it wasn’t. He also made it clear who butters his biscuits by mentioning “Iran’s nuclear plan” and how Obama “has thrown allies like Israel under the bus.” As his speech ended, over a hundred thousand Viagra-filled balloons dropped from the rafters before everyone returned to their hotel rooms and fell asleep after donning their CPAP masks.
Successful candidates depend more on charisma and emotion than they do on competence, and this event had all the theatricality of a North Dakota high-school musical honoring the long and noble legacy of the state’s indigenous bison. As political theater, it failed. The event was heavy with the stench of a loss that has yet to be fully realized.
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