Monday, August 27, 2012
To the great fortune of the Tampa Bay area and the great misfortune of the Florida panhandle and areas West, Hurricane Isaac spared us it's wrath. RNC organizers did the prudent thing by canceling Monday's convention activities. We do not want charter buses crossing bridges with tropical storm force winds batting them around. On the other hand, they are finding out what many a Floridian knows... There is rarely a time so beautiful and temperate in Florida as the 24 hours after a tropical storm passes. Enjoy it, delegates!
As a quick aside, I am loving the pictures your operative is passing along from the convention. With me, Laura Jane and the mystery Ansel Adams, you are building quite the Kirbyington Post here.
So, what does an Isaac-shortened convention mean for the GOP? I think it is an opportunity - for a couple of reasons. One, it is an opportunity to yank the microphone away from someone who might damage the brand and distract from the message - yes, I am looking at you, Mr. Former Governor, current Akin defender Mike Huckabee. But I have seen a tentative revised schedule that shows his Monday slot, not being eliminated, but rather moved to Wednesday. Opportunity missed.
The second opportunity I see is a much greater one. It is a message striking right at the heart of official GOP philosophy. It is a chance to prove to largely skeptical independents that the GOP means what it says about smaller government. Setting aside for a minute the fact that it is hard to think of a GOP president who has actually shrunk government, let's talk about a common Republican response to the size of government debate. How many times have you heard that communities and churches and neighbors should take care of people in need and that government meddling in that arena has kept people from doing just that? That lower taxes would spur more charitable activity (hey, a message that their nominee could actually personify! Who knew?) Plenty, right?
So, let Isaac be an opportunity for the gathered party brass and believers to put their money and their effort where their message is. Pass around the plate for Gulf Coast victims. Raise an obscene sum of money, not for candidates, but for those affected by storm damage - and give it to the Red Cross. Double down on it by offering to charter flights from Tampa to Mobile or New Orleans or Pensacola so that conventioneers can offer a couple of hours or days of relief work. Speechify about people coming together to help people, about communities rallying around those in need. Talk about how this is the way forward for America - neighbor watching out for neighbor and offering a hand up. Think of the optics of Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney, side-by-side, clearing hurricane debris. Fantastic, right?
The added benefit is that only in that light can the message of serious entitlement reform sound anything other than rich preying on poor. Instead of wealthy receiving tax reductions, they can argue that it is freeing people up to follow the lead of conventioneers by donating to charity, helping a brother out.
In this light, Paul Ryan's belief in subsidiarity can actually mean something. Words that are perceived now as selfish and greedy can become a new template for an old view on the social compact - one that does not revolve around government, but rather around people of charity and good will.
You may read this and think "delusional eternal optimist". You're probably right. But that doesn't mean the possibility isn't there. It is. The long shot bet is that the GOP actually embraces it.
Finally, I have to say that attending a convention has to be fabulously boring. @SpencerianRed is almost entirely devoted to who is speaking to which delegation's breakfast, midday meeting, cocktail hour, etc. Holy crap. Who can listen to that many speeches? And those are just the warm up to an evening of fancy speeches from even farther away. No thank you.
What are you hearing in blue world?
Stay dry, my friend.
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Monday, August 27, 2012
"Kirbyington Post". Nice. Not enough side-boob, though.
We're safe and doing okay here. It was a tense weekend thanks to Isaac. I am simultaneously glad it turned away from us, but sorry for folks up in the Gulf Coast, for whom the scars of Katrina are still fresh.
I can only hope the Republicans would put their money where their mouth is, and collectively jet up to areas around Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle that might be impacted by an Isaac landfall. You'll forgive me if I don't hold my breath.
Things is @SpencerianBlue world remain largely in the organizational realm. Harry Reid urging Nevada school children -- headed back to the classroom -- to be safe. Michelle Obama getting fired up in Milwaukee at a rally. Obama for America announcing something with a fellowship program.
I chalk this up to most folks understanding that this week is largely about the Republicans here in Tampa (if not Isaac), and setting the stage for the big week coming up soon.
But there were a couple of tweets that caught my attention. Here's the first, from DailyKos proprietor Markos Moulitsas:
GOP gives up on Pennsylvania http://t.co/GJepi54X
The link takes to you DailyKos and a post by Kos himself. In it, he links to some Pennsylvania polling, and reposts a tweet from NBC's Chuck Todd, which said this:
This is a big deal because Pennsylvania was a keystone -- heh -- in the early math for Obama. With Pennsylvania locked up, if Obama wins Ohio (he enjoys a slight edge over Romney), and Florida (where he also enjoys a slight edge over Romney), then the electoral vote strategy gets hard for Romney, fast.
The second interesting tweet from the Spencerian Blue feed was from Taegan Goddard at Political Wire:
2nd poll today shows North Carolina a dead heat... http://pwire.at/RguIgw
The link goes to the Political Wire page which itself links to a couple of polls showing an actual dead heat in North Carolina. Look, no one was more pleasantly surprised than I was when Obama/Biden took North Carolina and their 15 electoral votes in '08. It's looking less likely for them this time around, but to head into deep-south politically "purple" country for the Democratic Convention is going to be really interesting.
And if Obama edges it out there, well... that, along with Pennsylvania, makes the math tough for R&R, too.
I doubt they're thinking too much about math right now in the Tampa Bay Times Forum. But I can promise you, the team in Chicago packing their bags for Charlotte is thinking about it. A lot.
It's a dream of mine to go to a convention (preferrablly Democratic, but whatever) some day. I won't be making it to Charlotte, but that's okay. Maybe we'll pack up the family truckster some day and head out with the kids to a convention somewhere. Boring speeches? Sure. But they're boring speeches you'll talk about for a lifetime.
Back to you.
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Welcome to a special Republican Convention Edition of Into the Echo Chamber, the weekly electronic conversation of the 2012 presidential campaign as viewed from two Twitter feeds. Matt Spence is monitoring the Twitterverse of the Romney Campaign, Republicans, and the "red" side of the aisle at @SpencerianRed. I am monitoring the tweets of the Obama Team, Democrats and the blue team using @SpencerianBlue. Our email-based back-and-forths are normally posted here on Thursdays.
For the week of the Republican Convention, we will be attempting to post one exchange per day. Stay tuned.