So the Republican National Convention will kick off in Tampa, Fla., on Monday. Spoiler alert: Romney wins.
It’s been decades since political conventions have produced real news, like an anchorman getting punched on the floor or protesters being arrested outside. Nowadays, they’re more like reality shows, only we already know who wins.
There’s always been a certain amount of stagecraft in political conventions, some scripted drama to replace the actual drama of figuring out the nominee. Now, it’s all about propping up the nominee, seeking a convention "bounce" and trying to minimize the harm from party dissidents looking to be heard.
Expect Republicans to play down their Rep. Todd Akin problem, and to reply "economy!" anytime a reporter asks about abortion or any other social issue. (And, a week from now, expect Democrats to reply "abortion!" anytime a reporter asks about the economy. Ah, what a world.)
Even the much-anticipated drama of an insurgency led by the supporters of Texas Rep. Ron Paul seems to be petering out. According to the Huffington Post, it appears the schedule will be rearranged so that the formal nomination process begins on Monday, much earlier than in past years. This has three-fold benefits for the establishment wing of the GOP: One, it allows Romney to accept the nomination earlier, opening the wellspring of general-election cash that’s waiting for a legal nominee. Two, it gets business done more quickly if Hurricane Issac stirs up trouble on the Gulf Coast. And three, it leaves less time for Paul supporters to organize.
As a political observer, I find that disheartening, especially for Nevada’s delegation. (In a break with tradition, our delegation will be led by Paul supporter Wayne Terhune, not by the party chairman, Michael McDonald.)
For years, we’ve told people if they want to change things, they need to get involved in politics to make their voices heard. Well, Paul supporters did that, and what have they reaped for their trouble? The 2008 state convention was literally shut down to prevent Paul supporters from sending a Paul-friendly delegation to Minneapolis for the national convention. After Paul supporters won election to key state and Clark County posts this year, the Republican National Committee and the Romney campaign formed a "shadow party" called Team Nevada. And now, Paul-supporting delegates are heading to Tampa to brave summer heat, humidity and even a hurricane only to find the schedule is such that they won’t get a chance to put their man’s name in nomination.
(To be sure, Paul would have needed a plurality of delegates in five states to get nominated, but as Ed Morrissey notes on HotAir.com, the Republican National Committee has quietly peeled away delegations from states where Paul ran well.)
But hey, at least Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, Ron Paul’s son and a Tea Party favorite, will get a nice speaking slot. Oh, and the rumor is they will show a nice short film about Ron Paul, too, as if to say, we’re all in this together, and we all have so much in common.
But they don’t, unless Romney uses his convention speech to announce that he’s in favor of ending all foreign wars and recalling U.S. troops from abroad; that he’s suddenly in favor of eliminating several Cabinet departments, including Energy, Education and Commerce; that the war on drugs has been a failure and, if elected, he’ll end it; and that this Byzantine system known as the Federal Reserve needs to be taken apart piece by piece.
Now that would make some great television. But don’t hold your breath, because this column is the only place you’ll even see that idea suggested.
So what are we left with? Stagecraft, balloons and speeches, same as always. Enjoy the convention!
Steve Sebelius is a Review-Journal political columnist and author of the blog SlashPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter (@SteveSebelius) or reach him at (702) 387-5276 or firstname.lastname@example.org.