CNN’s Piers Morgan perhaps had the best set-up of any journalist covering the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. Instead of doing interviews on the crowded convention floor, Mr. Morgan was in a bar, where he could drink beer, eat nachos and talk turkey with the People. Not since Rod Stewart first sang the blues has there been a more strained effort by a Brit to seem American.
All that was missing was a giant “America #1” foam finger and a guitar signed by Tom Petty. It was like being at Applebee’s, but somehow less glamorous. And instead of serving up grilled chicken wonton tacos and quesadilla burgers, they were serving up … analysis!
If that doesn’t have you salivating, congratulations – there might not be anything wrong with you.
Otherwise, though, ride up to my hayloft, cowpokes. Grab a Coors, kick off those boots and let your belly hang out. We’re not commenting on some stuffy Democratic National Convention. We’re watching a Romney hang sesh, where the only rule is, “Chill out, lil dudes!” Oh, and maybe, “Can we please go two days without talking about rape?”
Now sit yourselves down so we can set to jibber-jabberin’ about the RNC, and how its main players blossomed or blundered this week.
Before she stepped onto the stage, we knew Ann Romney only as the billionaire nominee’s wife, with a proclivity for dressage. But during her speech, she set about – with the light touch of the Blue Fairy – turning her wooden husband into a real boy. We’ll give her a pass for the winky-nudgey comments she made about men being too self-involved to know the fastest route to the emergency room, right? Single dads, Mrs. Romney has no time for you, so shut up and keep applying papier mâché to that model of Jupiter – the science fair starts in two hours.
Chris Christie, the keynote speaker and New Jersey governor, spoke primarily of himself, making it clear he expects we’ll see him on the 2016 ticket. Journalists everywhere cried out in ecstasy, as it is very, very fun to use the term “belly flop” when a portly man does poorly in politics.
Condoleezza Rice sneaked out of Stanford University to give a speech so rousing, precise and statesmanlike that even liberal Twitter circles forgot that she was instrumental in approving torture and generally ruining America.
But Paul Ryan was undoubtedly the belle of the ball, looking out on the breathless crowd on Wednesday with those sympathetic, deep-socketed eyes that make it seem, just for a moment, that he couldn’t have a couch at home made from the washed and treated skin of deceased vagrants.
He told some lies about how he would protect the poor (by cutting their benefits), rattled off a few incorrect facts about the U.S. credit rating and floored us with lyrical preambles worthy of a Kenny Loggins jam (“Like a ship trying to sail on yesterday’s wind …”). Finally, he totally burned Uncle Mitt by saying Mr. Romney’s iPod playlist reminded him of elevator music. What a scamp.
There were rumours that a Ronald Reagan hologram would be the convention’s mystery guest. Instead, the GOP had Clint Eastwood talk to a chair. Why bother with an actor-cowboy laser ghost when a living actor-cowboy man can yell at an invisible Barack Obama for 11 solid minutes?
By the time Mr. Romney glided onstage, the room was aching for him, ready for a barnburner. He opened strong, knitting those gorgeous cashmere eyebrows of his and expressing gratitude to the delegates. There was a pause. Then he pivoted toward Mr. Ryan with his big comeback: “But Paul, I still like the playlist on my iPod better than yours.” Boom goes the dynamite! as they say.
It was difficult for Mr. Romney to maintain that level, though he did refer to America as “the greatest country in the history of the world” twice, described how his mother learned about his father’s death as if it were a droll anecdote, and made fun of Mr. Obama for caring about rising sea levels. (Will America still be the greatest country in the history of the world if 32 per cent of its coastal populations are living out The Poseidon Adventure?)
In the end, though, maybe none of this pageantry matters. And speaking of pageantry, did you catch the fourth episode of Here Comes Honey BooBoo? There’s a good chance you did, as it got better ratings than the RNC – maybe it’s easier to relate to a bunch of overweight, hardscrabble Georgians making tough decisions about which grocery coupons to use than to a bunch of millionaires in Florida bragging about giving themselves tax breaks.
Kathryn Borel is a Canadian writer based in Los Angeles.