Monday, 7:17 AM: My flight touches down in Tampa. Despite severe weather warnings the sun is trying to peek through the clouds. It’s about 80 degrees outside with a crisp 400% humidity. One look out the window of the air conditioned airport terminal and I’m already breaking out into a full body sweat.
In their wisdom and perspicaciousness, the RNC decided to have their national convention in Florida during hurricane season. Because nothing inspires confidence in the Republican party like its association with hurricanes. Only a bunch of climate change deniers would try to establish mankind’s dominion over nature by thinking they can hold Florida weather at bay through sheer determination. I can’t wait until these people are once again elected to be the shepherds of our country.
7:52 AM: I hail a cab outside the airport. As I slide into the backseat I look at the driver through the rearview mirror, and am forced to do a double take when I see that former RNC chairman, Michael Steele, is at the wheel.
“What it do, my brutha? Where to?” he asks. “You here for the convo? It’s gonna be a real righteous party, my man. On the ferreals.”
When I express my surprise at seeing him driving a cab this weekend, instead of being a part of the festivities, he responds with a sob story about not only not getting invited but finding himself on several “Do Not Allow Entry” lists, with a picture of Bert, from Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie, attached as an ID photo. Although, as he explained to me, “It’s all good, homey, because there are some real swanky lesbian bondage clubs up in this piece. I’m ‘bout to wile out. Make it rain, bitches!”
9:34 AM: Happy to have left Mr. Steele and his rather noxious smelling cab behind, I check into my hotel. Wandering around the lobby I find myself surrounded by more honkey-looking white people than you’d find at a free mayonnaise tasting event. Oh, wait, there actually is a free mayonnaise tasting event going on in the lobby.
11:20 AM: With the actual convention postponed until tomorrow I head up to my room to take a nap. Unfortunately, it looks like no one has cleaned my room in at least four or five days. When I call the front desk to complain the concierge apologizes, but notes that in advance of the Republicans arrival the hotel’s entire cleaning crew was forced to flee the city.
1:32 PM: I grab lunch at a diner around the corner form the hotel. Before I get a chance to order my server informs me that, due to convention-goers’ unusually high demand for certain items, the restaurant is already sold out of tuna salad, iceberg lettuce, and mayonnaise.
2:45 PM: Even though the convention isn’t going on today there are plenty of events taking place around town. The biggest is Ron Paul’s “We Are The Future” rally, which was happening at the Sun Dome, on the University of South Florida campus. I decide to stop by.
Out on the floor of the rally I find myself surrounded by 10,000 maniacs waving “End The Fed” posters. I decide to try to fit in by screwing my face up into a growling sneer and shouting out nonsensical anti-establishment slogans, but to no avail. The people around me quickly realize I’m not one of them, and I end up on the receiving end of a vicious beating at the hands of an out of work mechanic and part-time libertarian philosopher from Chattanooga, Tennessee, named Jake.
5:15 PM: I find myself standing on the street a few blocks off the South Florida campus, bloodied and bruised, holding a handkerchief up to my swollen lip and wondering where to go next. Luckily I don’t have to think about it for too long as I’m accosted by two young Tea Party activists who mistake me for congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Apparently the black and blue marks I got from Jake, along with the distant look I had in my eyes (which might be the early signs of a serious concussion) are enough to make me a dead ringer for the right wing sweetheart. I shatter their illusions, though, when my answers to some of their questions are actually lucid. They soon move on to greener pastures. Having never been to Tampa I decide to go for a walk around town.
6:30 PM: A couple of hours of exploration has led me to a few conclusions about the setting of the 2012 Republican National Convention.
1. Between segregation and outright enmity, this city’s rampant racism makes it an excellent location to host a major Republican event.
2. Tampa has a weird obsession with pirates. Which might help to explain why they’re enthusiastically accommodating a large group of people who have come to town in support of the candidacy of a man who made his fortune looting and pillaging.
3. On average, Tampa is only twelve feet deep. Despite this, the city is still not as shallow as this year’s Republican platform.
8:48 PM: I return to the hotel. It’s been a long day and the convention hasn’t even kicked off yet. I ignore the hooting and hollering from several bowtie-bedecked Young Republicans, signaling the beginning of what I’m sure will be a week full of patriotic fervor, partisan vitriol, and cocaine, in order to retire to my room early. I have quite a week in front of me, and The Hunger Games is on Pay-Per-View.