I think David Horowitz is ratting me out. The little zero stood reading my e-mails over my shoulder (quite a feat, given that I’ve got a foot and a half on him) for about ten minutes before I noticed him, and in the hour or so since, I’ve been getting bad looks from my fellow conventioneers. I’ve retreated to the hotel bar — frustratingly empty: as my alkie dad might have told me if he’d ever dried out, never trust a group that doesn’t drink before 5PM — and I can hear the roar of the crazed from the lobby as Ron Paul comes blustering in for his 3PM speech. Pamela Atlas Geller Oshry Wojohowicz Smith Kline Welcome’s Long Island wheeze echoes from nearby, but I can’t put a face to the name, and thank the Christ her people murdered that I can’t. (Judging from the cocktail conversation, there’s an equal number of Israel-defenders and Jew-haters in attendance today.) Celebrity sightings: Ben Stein, Mary Katherine Ham, and a number of flyover senators. I order a martini, as dry as Ace of Spades’ sense of humor isn’t, and the bar PA starts playing “Stand By Your Man”. Which reminds me of:
Noon. Mitt Romney’s funeral pyre. Desk-drawer Ann Coulter manqué Laura Ingraham is introducing him, and her speech is a fiery enfilade against the RINOs who seem to think that the faceless Mormon nonentity isn’t the second coming of Ronald Reagan, who I am beginning to think of as the fourth member of the Holy Trinity. She refers to the fact that “the three remaining Republican candidates for president” are all in attendance; that must cheese off Ron Paul something fierce, and a cheesed-off Ron Paul is a joy forever. Laura keeps saying “Should we calm down?” Yes, Laura, you should. You in particular should calm way the fuck down. Of course, she’s giving a more inspiring speech than he ever has. When she finally brings him on, he says of the conservative wing of the G.O.P. that they are “beautiful and talented”, and if Mitt’s not fucking her, I’ll eat a quarter.
The crowd is absolutely explosive for Mitt; if the rumors are true that he’s about to chicken-walk out of the race, there’s gonna be a lot of tears. (Although, of course, there were the callow little shits of the YAF I ran across in the Exhibit Hall who were already swapping out their Romney buttons and stickers.) The true believers saw in him what they saw in Reagan, a mildly pleasant cipher of a man upon whom they could impress their most extreme beliefs: a man doing bad things and allowing you to feel good about them. His speech, delivered in that clipped I-can-only-read-five-words-at-a-time way he has, is hitting on all the cheer buttons: security, lower taxes, the “attack on faith” (not the Muslim faith, though, surely), and those goddamn Sixties which ruined everything forever. He gets out an extremely weird cheap shot: we have to block the “increasingly voracious appetite of the unions”. Given the abysmal state of labor these days, this tangent reminds me of kicking an invalid in the teeth because they ask for seconds at gruel time, but it gets a standing ovation from the faithful. Another big applause line for the punters comes when Romney invokes the hideous shadow of a nonexistent threat: “Simply put, we must not allow America to be held hostage by the likes of Hugo Chavez.” Somewhere in a metallic cave below the streets of Caracas, Chaves shakes his armored fist and screams: “¡Maldígale, Romney! ¡Usted me ha frustrado otra vez!”
Now comes doomsday: “Because I love this country, I entered this race, and because I love this country, I am leaving it.” Unfortunately, he means the race, not the country; I was hoping he was going to move to Paris and take a run for mayor against that dirty Red queer they have now. So it’s all over for the Mittster, and maybe it’s just the drugs wearing off, but I feel strangely disappointed and annoyed. Sure, he got out some cheap shots at those forces of “radical Islam”, and yeah, I got to be part of electoral history for the first time since I helped run fellow Mormon Ev Mecham out of office, but there was no bad craziness to this, no frisson of madness, and aside from a bewildering attempt to claim credit for Barack Obama’s success, no unexpected moment when a cuckoo popped out of someone’s forehead. For this, I missed Mark Steyn and Crazy Pammy?
You owe me, Romney; you owe me a debt of lunacy. Crawl on back to Massachusetts. Maybe Ron Paul can pick up your tab…