Welcome to Church, Baseball and The Super Bowl
For political junkies who are pre-occupied with other events in life that take place every four years, besides the summer Olympics, the days are drawing closer to the Republican National Convention taking center stage in Tampa, August 27-30.
The fall political convention season peaks over the horizon while many are enjoying a rare burst of enjoyment and optimism as the 2012 London Olympics remain in full swing.
One may look on the Republican National Convention and the upcoming Democrat National Convention, which will take place in Charlotte, September 3-6, as the Olympics of political contests for Americans – or the full employment act for pundits and political journalists.
Although I missed the Democrat National Convention in 2008 because of a family scheduling conflict, I was able to attend the Republican convention that year at the “Xcel Energy Center” in St. Paul, MN.
Find my Tentacle coverage of the 2008 Republican National Convention on TheTentacle.com here: September 12, 2008, “A Little Convention History,” and September 11, 2008, “Eloquent Prose – Excellent Friends,” and here, September 10, 2008, “The Four “E’s” of the GOP Convention.”
Sadly, this year, I will not be able to attend either convention. If you have the chance to attend one, you should not pass-up the opportunity to witness a truly unique American phenomenon.
Both Tampa and Charlotte are cities I have come to know and really appreciate. The opportunity to visit either of these great American cities should not to be overlooked.
For me, in September 2008, the operative description for the hectic non-stop excitement that surrounded the convention was the collision of energy, excitement, and exhaustion.
It was part church, part baseball, and part Super Bowl.
Part church because the political liturgists were exacting in seeing to it that no detail was overlooked in organizing the complexities of having 45,000 attendees in town.
Just imagine the constant din of that many people talking for four days in an echo chamber. The experience is hard to put into words. Imagine the noise of a Raven’s game continuing non-stop for four straight days, or recall the days of the Outdoor Insane Asylum they called Memorial Stadium when the Baltimore Colts played.
In 2008, there were endless challenges to overcome. Transportation to and from all the hotels to the convention center, media support, technology infrastructure, food, vendors and concessions; and security and safety were only a few of the multitude of organizational complexities that were essentially handled flawlessly.
To augment the convention-as-church analogy, one could not help but notice that the convention was a gathering of the faithful to listen to political sermons delivered to the choir.
It is part baseball because of the exacting choreography of the event for the television audience…
…and part Super Bowl because you get to sit in the pews and yell and scream and cheer all the nationally famous players that come together to speak.
Just imagine what it would be like if we could yell and cheer in church during the sermon and communion where the wine and wafers are replaced with Kool-Aid.
To top it off, one of the enduring memories of the weeklong convention was how nice everyone was in taking care of all these challenges in spite of the long hours and infrequent unexpectedly difficult conditions.
In 2008, one anticipated opportunity, which did not disappoint, was meeting and talking with national political figures and media talents from all over the world.
I had the opportunity to meet and briefly speak with the likes of Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich, Howard Kurtz, The Washington Post columnist, the late, then-new media blogger Andrew Breitbart, and actor Jon Voight.
The list of national players who spoke at the GOP convention was lengthy. But, yes, in 2008, it was Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin who stole the show. Other electrifying speakers were the governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson and, of course, our own Michael Steele.
Also delightful were the Maryland delegation breakfast meetings with national speakers. These included Arizona Sen. John Kyl, Everett Alverez, a fellow POW with John McCain, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and Mr. Steele, to name just a few.
The convention in Tampa later this month will be the culmination of a two-and-a-half year trip that began May 13, 2010, when, according to an article in the Tampa Bay Times, then-Republican National Committee Chairman Steele announced “I'm very, very proud to call you and congratulate you for being selected as the host city for our convention…
“Organizers say the event will draw about 40,000 people, including 15,000 journalists, and have a $170 million economic impact on the city.”
Last Monday, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus announced the first list of speakers for the 2012 convention.
Among the speakers returning from the 2008 are Arizona Sen. John McCain, the party's 2008 nominee, now serving his fifth term in the U.S. Senate; and Gov. Mike Huckabee, the 44th governor of Arkansas, a 2008 presidential primary candidate; now a New York Times best-selling author, radio and television show host.
Also lined-up to speak at the convention are Gov. Nikki Haley, the first female governor of South Carolina and the youngest sitting governor in the United States, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former House Budget Committee chairman.
Rounding-out the list are New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, the first female Hispanic governor in the U.S. and the first female governor of The Land of Enchantment; former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the first African-American female to hold the position; and Rick Scott, governor of the host state of Florida.
Pass the popcorn. This year’s convention surely will not disappoint.
. . . . . I’m just saying…