I hung around Tampa for a few days during the RNC and talked to a bunch of random people on the street. The two main things I take away from the whole experience are that Tampa residents were either really puzzled by the emptiness of their city during the convention or they thoroughly enjoyed the occasional free breakfasts that came with Mitt’s big coming out party. During the three-day event, the town felt like the perfect personification of Republican ideals with elites chatting behind closed doors and layers of security, while smelly liberals were stuck outside protesting.
On the final night of the convention, I sat and watched entire battalions of police march in rank through downtown Tampa. The cops traveled by horse, Segway, bike, something that might be described as a military grade golf cart, dump truck, Humvee, SUV, pickup truck, helicopter, regular police car, etc… Occasionally, like characters at Disney World, political celebrities would also roll through to shake hands and take pictures, accompanied by their PR greaseballs and security goons.
Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, came through the Channelside district in downtown Tampa to talk to the local crowd. “I love your Wet Willie's,” he told two Tampans, referring to the bar directly in front of him, famous for its frozen mixes with names like “Call-a-Cab” and “Attitude Improvement.” For the sake of an improved American political process, let's hope that Michael Steele does in fact love Tampa's Wet Willie's. We could all use a nice frozen alcoholic beverage after this week.All the real political action (other than the nationally televised part of the night where Clint Eastwood talked to a chair and Mitt Romney appealed to America's love of office supply stores) was in the aptly named Liberty Plaza. It was there that patriots watched the late Andrew Breitbart's documentary about the Occupy Movement at the “Citizens United Theater.” Citizens United, you’ll remember, is the group that won that Supreme Court case allowing unlimited donations to political action committees. And Andrew Breitbart, you'll also remember, was the deceptive shithead who pulled famous stunts like editing a video of an Obama appointee’s anti-racist speech to sound racist. To his credit, he also broke the Anthony Weiner dick pic scandal.
Michele Bachmann showed up to introduce the film and eulogize Breitbart, who died of a heart attack in March. “Andrew didn't meet anyone in life who didn't instantly become his best friend,” she told us, apparently unaware that the movie that was about to play was full of people who were not Mr. Breitbart's friends. She also compared the blogger to the spinach in the Popeye cartoons. “The spinach would fly out of that can,” Michele explained. “That's kind of like Andrew.”The movie was truly the work of a man who is best remembered as a can of industrialized produce. It was so execrably sensationalistic and unfocused that it would be impossible to list all of its shortcomings here, but it basically it argued that Occupy was organized by people and some of those people were activists in the past. It also contained this brilliant quote about Occupy from the dead guy: “there's raping and there's pillaging and there's pooping.”
Afterward, some Code Pink activists were given a chance to defend themselves and viewers could ask questions. It was mostly a chance to be shouted over by the film's “cast.” Dennis Trainor, a filmmaker who made an Occupy documentary with a very different spin, invited the group to a double bill screening in New York next month. In the background, Journey was doing their sound check, because they were closing the convention with a 90-minute concert. We were all asked to put politics aside for a moment and consider how awesome that was. One of the cast members made “rock” devil horns. I left around the time the arguing drifted into the area of feeding hungry children and charges that Occupy was diverting government resources from this, as if any of the Breitbart staff had ever advocated for any government program that helps feed hungry children.
Liberty Plaza also had a Cigar Tent, where I headed, like a good Republican, to unwind after having my eyes and ears fed for three days with apocalyptic warnings about the dangers of anarchist communists. Sean Hannity apparently had been here the other night. I took my complimentary cigar and cigar cutter and sat down to watch Fox News. All was calm, all was safe. Outside, the cops rolled by, presumably to start a bike club. It was a great convention.@KyleKramerPreviously:I Watched Chris Matthews Eat a Sandwich at the RNCRepublicans Don't Know How to PartyI Was Offered a Blowjob at the Republican National Convention