This week opens the 2012 Republican Convention, and it looks like a direct hit on Tampa by Hurricane Isaac has been avoided. Now, it's just a question of whether the convention will be a political disaster rather than hurricanical. Here's what to expect over the next few days:
1) Crowd pleasing red meat for the crowds, in the form of bombastic speakers like Chris Christie and Marco Rubio. Various activists in tricorner hats and cowboy hats (you can tell a true activist by how festive their hats are--if anyone shows up in a a Zulu headdress, look out, they're extra activist) will be saying to themselves "why couldn't we have nominated one of these guys instead of Richie McMoneybags?"
2) An attempt to humanize Mitt Romney with speeches from his wife and chauffeur.
3) Pundits and reporters asking stupid questions such as "why isn't Sarah Palin speaking at this?" because it's a genuine mystery why anyone wouldn't want a batshit simpleton to share some homespun homilies with millions of Americans on live television.
4) Romney's actual speech, which will be full of lofty promises and ideals, all of which will be dropped about four minutes after he takes office, should he actually win this thing.
5) The absurdly boring roll call of states.
It's this last one I want to draw your attention to--as you know, they do actually formally nominate the candidates for VP and President at this thing. If you can sit through it, you'll see each state's delegation in alphabetical order saying something boring about their stupid state (such as "the great state of Nebraska, with its fine yellow corn and terrific football team, and home of Mutual of Omaha insurance . . .") before pledging their votes for the nominee. What you definitely won't see is any surprises--such as the roll call shifting enough votes to anyone besides Romney to actually deny him the majority that he needs for the nomination. It's a predictable procedure and seems utterly pointless. Couldn't they have done this all by mail?
The thing is, this is a reminder of what once was the most important part of the convention. Decades ago it was actually considered improper for the expected nominee to even attend the convention, let alone give a big acceptance speech. And unless the nominee was an incumbent president, it was typical to go into the convention with no way of being certain who would get nominated--the concept of binding primaries is relatively recent. So with all the wheeling and dealing on the convention floor and in back rooms, it would actually be exciting to view the roll call, not knowing how it would turn out.
So in the midst of a string of speeches and overly enthusiastic cheering, we get treated to a pointless bit of tradition that just reminds us of what used to be notable about the entire event.