by Benjamin J. Kirby
I am welcoming the Republican National Convention to the Tampa Bay area with wide-open arms.
That's right. This left-of-center blog is welcoming delegates, elected officials, candidates, and participants, almost all of whom will be of the other political stripe, to the Tampa Bay area, which includes my current home-town of Gulfport. There will be media representation from across the globe, too -- I welcome them as well.
The economic impact -- estimated at as much as $200 million for this area -- is at the top of the list for reasons why people of all political stripes, not just librulz like me should welcome our visitors from across the nation. Yes, I've heard the economic naysayers. In response, I would say Mayor Buckhorn said it best:
Tampa's biggest cheerleader is Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who said no matter how much is pumped into the city's economy, it's all good.
"Any number is a good number," he said. "It's all positive. There will be a lot of people hired; a lot of companies making money, a lot of jobs created.
"The bigger impact, and it's tougher to quantify," he said, "is the long-term impact of this convention. Ten years from now, we will look back and say that this was the most important single event that we have ever done.
That's right. And by the way, Skeptical Economists, bogus comparison between the Super Bowl and a party convention. One happens every year -- albeit not in the same place -- and one happens every four years. Even I know you have to compare apples to apples when doing a scientific test.
I've also been spending time listening to Rob Lorei on WMNF on the drive home, mostly for fun. He's been having a lot of folks calling in talking about protesting the RNC.
That's fine -- that's good. I'm all about freedom of expression. So is this country. Besides, it wouldn't be a political event without some protests, so that's a good and healthy thing.
There have been a lot of folks calling in who seem more interested in protesting A.) for the sake of protesting, and B.) protesting that the convention is here at all. That strikes me as the wrong track. Look, if you don't like the Republican ideas behind going to war, or their economic notions, or their record on women's health, go get some folks together, make some signs, come up with a chant -- do your best. Hell, who knows: maybe I'll join you.
But if your beef is that they are here at all, well, consider this blog post my protest of you.
As of today, the biggest threat to the RNC is not protesters, nor is it the specter of delivering an anemic economic impact: it is Tropical Storm Isaac, currently in the Atlantic and on a collision-course for Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Haiti, and -- as of this writing -- the southern tip of Florida by about 8:00 AM Monday.
Just like I'm no economist, I'm not a meteorologist, either (though I thought about it for about five seconds in college; too much science). Still, rough, unprofessional, unscientific calculations could conceivably put it smack-dab in the Tampa Bay area around Tuesday or Wednesday.
That's right in the middle of Convention events.
Anyone even a little bit familiar with national politics knows the open secret which is that Conventions -- for both parties -- are little more than a week of free TV advertising for the nominee and their team. They're a lot of parties, a lot of fundraisers, a lot of like-minded folks milling around your town, spending their money in your bars and your strip clubs [a safe-for-work link to the New York Times, FYI].
It is a show. It is a made-for-TV event. And that's okay. It's part of the political process.
I don't want a hurricane to hit Florida, period. At any time -- convention or no convention. The safety of my babies, my family, my home, my friends, my workplace and my community means too much.
This convention means a lot, too.
I doubt I'll agree with a single, solitary idea that comes out of the RNC.
But I sure do hope they still get to have it.