The Stealth Convention

Photo courtesy of Bryan Frank

And now a few words about the Republican National Convention. AKA: Women with Big Hair and the Men in White Shoes Who Love Them. And white certainly was the operative word in Tampa. Mashed potatoes on paper plates with a side of leeks white.

Had to feel bad for the one black guy the networks kept cutting to during the speeches. They tried everything to make him look like a crowd. Different camera angles. Probably had his own wardrobe assistant. “Now put on the cowboy hat. Okay. Okay. Let’s try a handlebar mustache.” Must have been someone’s driver.

The first day of this GOP quadrennial confab got canceled for the second consecutive conference due to a hurricane bearing down on the city of New Orleans. The only two tropical storms to threaten the Crescent City since Katrina. Hey, guys, want some crow sprinkles on that karma cone?

But any worry about the optics of unrestrained celebration while parts of the country drowned faded fairly quickly. “Oh, quit your belly aching. At least your pesky drought is over.” And with that, the convention shifted into stealth mode.

The festive conservatives were so successful at concealing their core convictions, that at times it was difficult to discern which party was nominating whom. “We’re saving Medicare.” “The Party of Diversity.” “Our Platform May Say No Abortions, No Exceptions, But We Haven’t Even Read It.” “Dubyah Who?” “Mitt What?”

The only speaker to mention Mitt’s name out loud on purpose was Ann Romney in a gracious and endearing turn. Facing the tall task of climbing the plateau of humanizing her spousal cyborg, this mother of five boys constructed an entire flight of stairs by herself. But with a husband stiffer than Rick Santorum on a gay pride parade float, it was the basement stairwell of what needs to be skyscraper scaffolding. Baby steps.

Paul Ryan growled the requisite Veep Nominee pit-bull snarl. Then gave 40 minutes worth of credence to the Romney pollster who proclaimed earlier in the week, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” The Janesville Congressman trotted out more bad lies than Employees Day at St. Andrews. The Old Course.

Chris Christie solidly wedged himself into a fail-safe slot for the next round in the event of a Romney/ Ryan November stumble. As did Condoleezza Rice, albeit more elegantly. But Marco Rubio stole the show, positioning himself as a possible impediment to Christie and Condi’s scramble for 2016′s money. If there is any money by then.

Normally these gatherings are to spontaneity what Richard Simmons is to mule skinning. Lots of shiny, smooth seamless spandex. A three-day holiday in a hall full of Ken dolls. But in a dubious celebrity stretch, some soon-to-be ex-staffer woke Clint Eastwood from a nap to upstage the nominee’s acceptance speech by losing an argument with an empty chair.

Following Dirty Harry speaking to an imaginary president, Romney spoke of his phantom agenda. The general consensus was he needed to give the “Speech of His Life,” and the good news is, he did. The bad news: that was it. Great for the base. “Meh” for everybody else.

So now it’s on to Charlotte where the Democrats will throw a counter spin to their mirror image of this carefully orchestrated boogie-down. Charlotte and Tampa in the dead of summer. And these are our great political minds at work? Something indeed is horribly awry.

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Will Durst

Will Durst is a political comedian who has performed around the world. He is a familiar pundit on television and radio. E-mail Will at durst@caglecartoons.com. Check out willandwillie.com for the latest podcast. Will Durst’s book, “The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing,” is available from Amazon and better bookstores all over this great land of ours. Don’t forget to check out his rooftop comedy minutes at: http://www.rooftopcomedy.com/shows/BurstOfDurst.

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Palin Coming to South County for Ted Cruz

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore

In the final days of the Republican primary runoff between Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, major conservative leaders are coming to Texas to rally support for Cruz.

FreedomWorks, a Washington, D.C.-based conservative group chaired by former Texas Congressman Dick Armey, will hold a rally in Dallas on Thursday evening featuring Cruz, Armey, radio pundit Glenn Beck, and U.S. Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah.

The next day, the Cruz campaign has scheduled a get-out-the-vote rally in The Woodlands featuring former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina.

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania is also planning to campaign with Cruz over the weekend ahead of Tuesday’s runoff, according to ABC News.

The Dewhurst campaign was quick to point to Cruz’s out-of-state supporters as proof that Washington, D.C., insiders are trying to decide the race for Texans.

“Contrast clear. @DavidHDewhurst campaigns with @GovernorPerry. @teDCruz campaigns with non Texans,” Dewhurst spokesman Mark Miner tweeted. Miner was previously the spokesman for Gov. Rick Perry, who welcomed Palin’s support in his 2010 re-election bid.

Speaking to reporters after an event in Fort Worth on Wednesday, Dewhurst said the senators supporting Cruz are “all from states that are not as conservative as Texas, all from states that have not done as well as Texas is doing,” according to the Houston Chronicle.

A Dewhurst campaign spokesman declined to discuss Dewhurst’s campaign schedule.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/texas-people/ted-cruz/palin-santorum-coming-texas-cruz/.

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.

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Aman Batheja, The Texas Tribune

Aman Batheja, The Texas TribuneAman Batheja worked for eight years at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, most of that time covering state and local politics. A native of Cedarhurst, New York, he has an undergraduate degree in journalism and psychology from New York University and a master's in economics from the University of Texas at Arlington.

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Relax ‘Mitt’, Just Be Yourself

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore

Mitt Romney‘s off-the-cuff comments are starting to seem like Barack Obama’s bowling: Not good. Kind of spectacularly bad. Kitsch on a kind day.

Romney keeps on rolling gutter balls in front of the cameras: “The trees are the right height.” “I like being able to fire people.” “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” “I’m Mitt Romney—and yes Wolf, that’s also my first name.”

Normally the adage “a gaffe is when a politician accidentally tells the truth” applies. On the Jay Leno show, Obama famously compared his bowling skills to those in the Special Olympics. Many, including myself, were offended by the remark (mainly because the Special Olympics athletes are far better bowlers than Mr. Obama). The President apologized profusely for the statement.

But Romney’s greatest gaffes are less accidental nuggets of candor (like, “I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners.”) and more what you’d call disquieting sound bites of misfired pandering. Moments that can be summed up by the phrase “cheesy grits.”

Yes, he told a crowd in Mississippi during the primary, he had “cheesy grits” (as opposed to cheese grits) for breakfast and he was learning how to say, “ya’ll.” He would have been better off saying sweet tea (a diabetic coma-inducing regional syrup served over ice) is best with Splenda and he was learning how to talk … real … slow.

(Rick Santorum won Mississippi, by the way.)

Yes, when Romney attempts to show how in touch he is with Americans, he ends up displaying exactly how in touch he is with Americans. Meaning: Not at all.

This week, minutes after marveling at the 10-year-old touch screen technology at a Wawa in Quakertown, Romney was still stuck on regional sandwiches when he got to Cornwall, Pennsylvania. “By the way, where do you get your hoagies here?” he asked the crowd of supporters. “Do you get them at Wawas? Is that where you get them? No? Do you get them at Sheetz? Where do you get them?” According to reports the crowd booed until Governor Tom Corbett offered that the locals got their sandwiches at “delis.”

Here’s the thing: For a man whose book is titled “No Apology,” Mitt’s awkward Rand McNally riffing looks like he’s apologizing for not being from there. And in the case of Michigan (where he actually is from) not being enough like those who are from there. “Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually.” He’s telling us who he is by making it clear what he’s not: A man of the people … unless those “people” are corporations, my friends.

According to Moody’s Analytics, the unemployment rate would actually be a percentage point lower if the government employed as many people as we did in 2009. It’s a time when government IS shrinking—teachers and cops are being laid off and Mitt’s hoagie haven Pennsylvania lost 5,400 government jobs just this year. Mitt also does his best to seem obtuse. “[Obama] says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”

Who could have guessed a rich man running for a government job would have the chutzpah (pronounced choots-paw if your last name is Bachmann) to stand up against more firefighters and teachers?

One minute Romney is touting his business experience and wealth as a qualification to be president—the next minute he’s trying to appear like he’s not (as Jon Stewart observed) the guy who just fired your dad.

President Obama should not bowl. Ever. And Romney, well, he should stop trying to relate to blue-collar living and just be the stuffy, privileged, Ivy League, over-educated, French-speaking, affluent Republican he is.

Mitt, if that is your real name (it isn’t), just be yourself.

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Tina Dupuy

Tina Dupuy Tina Dupuy is a native New Yorker born in exile.

The daughter of biblical brimstone hippie revolutionaries, her parents were members of a splinter sect so fringe it makes normal cult apologists shudder. This has given her a rather unique take on life. “My parents were missionaries, not to be confused with ‘mercenaries’ because that would actually be cool.”

Tina’s childhood was spent as glorified luggage, living in several countries on two continents and eventually attending nine elementary schools. The most stable home she had was an adolescent all-girls group home in Northern California where she made few friends by being an (alleged) stuck up nerd who “thought she was better than everyone else.”

Tina’s life long ambition of being a paleontologist was thwarted by the siren call of freelance journalism. An irreverent yet unassuming humorist, Tina is a natural for the work. ”Prostitutes are known for their hearts of gold, you never hear anyone say that about satirists,” she laments.

Sometimes a reporter, sometimes a comedian – always a wedge-issue enthusiast and devout skeptic – Tina is anaward-winning writer, investigative journalist, the former managing editor of Crooks and Liars . Tina appears frequently on MSNBC, Current TV, RT and BBC, and all over the radio frequencies via KCRW’s To The PointThe Stephanie Miller Show and The Leslie Marshall Show. She writes for Mother JonesThe AtlanticSkeptic, Fast CompanyAlternetLA Weekly, Los Angeles Times and Newsday among many others. Her weekly op-ed column is nationally syndicated through Cagle Cartoons.

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And Lukewarm Was His Name-O

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore

You don’t need a psychoanalyst to detect the latent theme running through the endorsements currently showering Mitt Romney like broken rain gutters pouring down on a concrete toadstool. And that premise is ennui. “Mitt? Really? Yeah. Okay. Whatever.” Makes tepid sound like a crazed bellow. With wild enthusiasm as MIA as World Series trophies in the Wrigley Field display case. Within the last 104 years, that is.

Someone should warn NASA because we are approaching stratospheric heights of apathy here. The only thing these highly solicited testimonials have accomplished is given a face to listless. The guy needs industrial-strength hip waders to slog through the thigh-high lethargy.

George W. Bush carved a precious three seconds out of his busy schedule to make a momentous announcement from the inside of an elevator telling an ABC news crew, “I’m for Mitt Romney” as the doors closed on him. Not that the candidate-in-waiting was particularly lusting after 44′s imprimatur, which some might call the Kiss of Campaign Death. But it effectively does nail down the eminently sought-after spoiled rich kid vote.

Rick Santorum got around to his ringing endorsement 13 paragraphs into a 16-paragraph email sent out to supporters after midnight. The only subterfuge he neglected to employ was to disguise it in semaphoric code. And these are Romney’s big-time Republican buddies. You’d think they were having their teeth pulled with families held at gunpoint on a listing catwalk yawning over an erupting caldera.

It’s been like that ever since the nominee became presumptive. Politicians oozing from the woodwork with the same kind of energetic frenzy fifth-grade school girls normally reserve for haggis-flavored ice cream studded with garlic pickle chips.

You got to know this is just the beginning of a series of sluggishly recalcitrant pledges of approbation. Here are some other passion-challenged tributes we can expect over the coming weeks.

“Mitt Romney. Had to go with somebody, right?”

“Not the brainwashed Romney. That was his dad.”

“Only two of Mitt Romney’s five sons think he’s a soulless Cyborg.”

“May be out of touch with the mainstream but looks pretty good tanning on the embankment.”

“Mitt Romney. Hey, it could be worse.”

“Not the kind of guy who would hold you down and cut your hair, unless you really were asking for it.”

“Pretty down to earth for someone building a 57-room mansion with a car elevator.”

“Will do for America what he did for Bain Capital.”

“Survived the mean streets of Bloomfield Hills.”

“Hardly ever sneaks out at night to kick homeless guys. Anymore.”

“A man who stands by his previous statements, no matter what they are.”

“Mormons are just like Christians, aren’t they?”

“Mitt Romney. Not that bad, when you consider the alternatives.”

“He’s no John McCain.”

“Going to make the world safe for rich people.”

“Mitt Romney. When good things happen to bland people.”

“He’s Oxymormonic!”

“Hasn’t strapped a dog to the roof of his car in over 28 years.”

“Mitt Romney. He’s got gas money.”

“Never ridden a bus in his entire life.”

“Looks more like Gordon Gekko than Michael Douglas ever did.”

“Mitt Romney. A man who feels strongly about both sides of many issues.”

The New York Times says Emmy-nominated comedian and writer Will Durst “is quite possibly the best political satirist working in the country today.” Check out the website: willdurst.com to buy his book or find out about upcoming stand-up performances.

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Will Durst

Will Durst is a political comedian who has performed around the world. He is a familiar pundit on television and radio. E-mail Will at durst@caglecartoons.com. Check out willandwillie.com for the latest podcast. Will Durst’s book, “The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing,” is available from Amazon and better bookstores all over this great land of ours. Don’t forget to check out his rooftop comedy minutes at: http://www.rooftopcomedy.com/shows/BurstOfDurst.

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