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Republican Convention Diary Day 4: Obama’s an empty shell to which Republicans assign emotions

By Megan Carpentier
Friday, August 31, 2012 13:38 EDT
screenshot of clint eastwood and chair

For a convention built around encouraging Republican anger at President Obama’s out-of-context remark, “You didn’t build that,” and stirring up fears about what he might do in a second term, there was no fitter metaphor than the sight of a newly-outed conservative Clint Eastwood yelling at a chair for telling Mitt Romney to go fuck himself.

After all, while there are certainly some conservatives and Republicans who undoubtedly disagree with the President — and would disagree with any Democratic president — on principles, some just see Obama as a giant “fuck you” to everything they believe is American. He might not be a Socialist Muslim who hates whitey (though polls show there are plenty of people in the Republican party who believe), but they do believe he certainly doesn’t, and can’t, love America as much as they do.

(It’s probably fair to note that the Republican reaction is just the mirror image of liberals’ reactions to Obama in 2008: after all, “Hope” and “Change” are a feeling and a concept, respectively, and not a series of concrete policy initiatives. People who liked the candidate Obama projected, in many cases, the changes they personally wanted to see him make onto the man running for office. Republicans just projected different things.)

Metaphor or not, the Eastwood moment was a red flag for anyone with a modicum of convention experience: it meant that this convention was poorly planned and poorly managed. Attendees likely realized that the first night, after the Tampa Bay Times Forum emptied out and the thousands of people on foot was herded past no less than two totally untrafficked vehicle entrance points to the sole pedestrian entrance or exit… half a mile away. The route there was poorly lit and lined by fences that only allowed those thousands of people to walk two-by-two over broken sidewalks that were nearly impossible for anyone with a wheelchair to navigate. But, the buses that shuttled attendees to and from hotels or officially-sanctioned parties weren’t handicapped accessible (which is why I witnessed early in the week a handicapped man carried onto a bus by strangers), so those with mobility issues had few choices but to try.

These are not hard things to plan for — goodness knows the parties managed to do so in Denver and St. Paul — but the lack of forethought of the conventioneers’ experiences stood in stark contrast to the heavy and heavily-coordinated law enforcement presence designed to limit interactions between protestors and conventioneers. (And, notably, the pedestrian routes served to disincentivize conventioneers and media alike from attending the protests, as one had to walk about 10 minutes west to leave the convention zone and then 10-15 minutes back east and usually north to get to any of the permitted protest sites. So perhaps it wasn’t that poorly planned after all.)

Other signs of a poorly managed convention that had nothing to do with weather were: the inexplicable nightly appearances of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a relatively junior Republican congresswoman whose regular appearances almost made her seem like the emcee except they always came in the middle; the lack of a cohesive message on each night, as “We Can Change It” night turned into “We Can Bomb It!” on Wednesday and personhood got shoehorned into speeches about what people did or did not build; and the multiple interminable appearances of Mitt Romney’s former friends and neighbors to talk about how being Mormon isn’t weird or anything that detracted from what should’ve been the momentum of the night.

Oh, and let’s not forget the music, which seemed to be chosen by people who don’t actually like country music (or think that country music is synonymous with Republicanism). I’m no connoisseur of pop country music — I prefer bluegrass and alt-country — but it only took an hour of listening to Tampa’s local country station to identify the song and the artist the RNC folks should have gotten to perform instead of Danny Gokey, Beau Davidson or Neal Boyd. Ladies and gentlemen: Jason Aldean’s “Flyover States.”

Instead, conventioneers got this.

And for a convention that chose to emphasize the belief that Obama governs based on polls — a charge first leveled at then-President Bill Clinton — the fact that more than half of the last day of the convention emphasized the fact that Mitt’s a human being who hasn’t been a dick to everyone he’s ever met just underscored the point that his campaign, too, is poll-obsessed. Polls have long showed that people don’t connect to Mitt on a personal level, so they designed a day of the convention about making him seem more likeable as a person even as most people continue to say that they are concerned about the economy shows Obama’s not the only poll-watcher on the campaign trail this summer.

And then, having built that, they let Clint Eastwood get on stage and yell at a chair for telling Mitt Romney to go fuck himself.

Republican Convention Diary Day 3: Screams, lies and Paul Ryan’s eyes

By Megan Carpentier
Thursday, August 30, 2012 15:08 EDT

I am fairly certain that the woman who were seated behind me at the Republican National Convention last night could not have screamed louder when Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) took the stage, even if he’d come out from behind the podium, ripped off some pull-away pants and started gyrating like something out of a scene from Magic Mike. Ryan was Wednesday’s keynote speech that got an otherwise lackluster crowd on their feet after first sitting…


Republican Convention Day 2: All you need is love (according to Ann Romney)

By Megan Carpentier
Wednesday, August 29, 2012 12:45 EDT

“Tonight, I want to talk to you about love,” Ann Romney told the crowd at the beginning of her post-10 pm speech. It was going to be a tough sell for a crowd far more likely to get exercised by hate. It was an odd counterpoint to a night —…


Republican Convention Day One: Everyone is fenced in (including David Koch)

By Megan Carpentier
Tuesday, August 28, 2012 9:40 EDT

Tropical storm warnings and grey skies still loomed over Tampa on Monday, and more than a few journalists braved the drive over the miles-long Howard Frankland Bridge from St. Petersburg in strong winds while the choppy waters of the bay slapped against the barriers and occasionally topped them. That ominous…


Republican Convention Day Zero: Draped in the red, white and blue

By Megan Carpentier
Monday, August 27, 2012 11:21 EDT

The presence of Isaac wasn’t the only thing dampening the moods of those who made it to Tampa on Sunday to attend or cover the Republican National Convention: the sheer size and visibility of the police and military presence was enough to give even some conservatives pause. Though patches identified…


Raw Story goes behind the scenes at the Republican National Convention

“Welcome to Tampa for the Republican National Convention” signs scream out from lampposts, billboards and shop windows across the region, as conventioneers continue to pour into Tampa from across the country and media descends from across the world to cover the Republican Party’s 4-day free advertisement for its candidate for…


Life, rape, duck vaginas and Todd Akin: A podcast with Jamelle Bouie and Pat Caldwell

By Megan Carpentier
Friday, August 24, 2012 12:03 EDT

Yesterday, Jamelle Bouie and Pat Caldwell of The American Prospect invited me to do a podcast about Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-MO) now-infamous “legitimate rape” comments. Among other things, we discuss how the conservatives like Akin and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) who want to eliminate abortion, limit or eliminate access to…


10 reasons Republican convention performer Beau Davidson is the worst

By Megan Carpentier
Wednesday, August 22, 2012 12:10 EDT

On Wednesday night of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, just after what should be a barn-burner of a speech by House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (not really), little-known “Singer. Actor. Songwriter. Host.” Beau Davidson is scheduled to perform. Who’s Beau Davidson you ask? Well, he was a session singer…


What women really hear when men like Politico reporter Dave Catanese and Rep. Todd Akin say ‘legitmate rape’

By Megan Carpentier
Tuesday, August 21, 2012 11:15 EDT

To hear either Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) or his defender, Politico reporter Dave Catanese, tell it, the problem with Akin’s comments about “legitimate rape” and whether women magical mystery reproductive tracts can prevent the fertilization of its eggs by sperm introduced through “real” violation and trama were: Akin meant “forcible…


Does ‘legitimate rape’-defining Missouri Rep. Todd Akin believe women are really ducks?

By Megan Carpentier
Monday, August 20, 2012 10:09 EDT

Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), who currently sits on the House Science Committee but would desperately like to replace Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) in the Senate, has some rather odd ideas about human female evolution, which he explained to a local television station yesterday. It seems to me, first of all,…