I'm on my way back from St. Paul, leaving behind the 2008 Republican National Convention and all its sarcasm and right wingnuts, half truths and outright lies. Phew! But as I leave, there are a few observations I need to make that go beyond the typical speech analysis and punditry. Bear with me. :)
-- It's become clear to me that Democrats are liberal arts majors (I know I am) and Republicans are business majors -- and there is a big difference in how the two types run a convention. Denver was one long line after another, and getting into the Pepsi Center each night was a bloody nightmare. St. Paul went like clockwork, logistically speaking -- even Hurricane Gustav didn't trip 'em up. I never waited in line to get into St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center, even though security was scarily tight. I guess such narrow-minded focus (and I do mean narrow) pays off sometimes.
-- Denver's 16th Street Mall witnessed peaceful protests every day, with little problem or fuss. St. Paul was a police state with troops in full riot gear lining the streets, tear-gassing and scatter bombing protesters who had not, by and large, done much to deserve it. In fact, the riot patrols were everywhere, and actually discouraged me from attending some events -- I'm guessing that was most likely their intent. I am mad that I allowed my civil liberties to be infringed upon in that way, but rather than making me feel safe all those cops wearing splash shields, guns and billy clubs just scared the shit out of me. I decided to stay as far away from them as possible -- and I'm glad I did. Hell, I'm lucky they didn't arrest me as a spy, for being a stranger in a strange land and all that. I clearly had not drunk the Kool-aid.
-- There are depressingly few Republican women elected to Congress, and fewer still in leadership positions. And lots of moderates -- particularly the women -- stayed away from the convention altogether, not wanting to be tainted by the right wing spectacle and the Bushies in their tough re-election fights. While Denver was Diversity Central, St. Paul was absolutely the domain of straight white men. That explains the word on the street that the hookers were hopping in St. Paul. In Denver there was only a slight uptick in johns looking for dates -- but nothing like the Twin Cities bonanza. Apparently "they" had to bus in more prostitutes to meet the demand. Some family values, huh?
-- In Denver, just about every speaker had sincere, good things to say about John McCain. They disagreed politically with the Maverick, usually vociferously, but none of the speakers doubted his patriotism or courage, and they lauded his amazing personal story. In St. Paul, the only speaker I heard say something nice about Sen. Barack Obama was former Gov. Mike Huckabee (bear in mind I was traveling during McCain's big night, so maybe when I watch the replay he'll surprise me and have said good things as well). The rest of the Republicans at the podium? Well, they were just mean. Sarcastic. If all you watched of the convention was Gov. Sarah Palin, they were all like that -- condescending and nasty.
-- I agree that a good amount of the press coverage of Gov. Sarah Palin has been imbued with sexist stereotypes, both overt and covert. The very idea that a woman should be excluded from consideration for any job simply because she is a mother is fundamentally offensive. But, I also have to say, the Republicans suddenly getting religion on the topic of sexist media coverage is disingenuous and transparent. Where the hell were they when Hillary was being excoriated? When Hillary nutcrackers were the hottest holiday gift? Yes, the coverage of Palin has been problematic in some ways. But don't conveniently get a conscience about media sexism as a way to self-righteously sidestep the tough and entirely valid questions about experience and qualifications.
-- Wednesday night pissed me off for all kinds of reasons -- but it really pissed me off when one speaker after another disparaged Obama's work as a community organizer. Clearly, these folks have no idea what the hell that is or the good such work can do -- which is especially ironic since so much community organizing takes the place of programs the Republicans have axed, or addresses problems their lousy, short-sighted, care-only-about-the-rich polices have produced.
I am so glad to be home. Seriously. The entire atmosphere in St. Paul was oppressive, but it was also eye opening. I was submerged in the opposition's camp, and I certainly wasn't in Obama's Kansas anymore. After this experience, I sure as hell do not want to live the next four years in McCain-Palin Land, with the the Stepford delegates and evangelical automatons. While the walk on the Red Side was an education, it's good be back in my Blue life. Damn straight, Toto, there is no place like home.
Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.