The Republican convention reached an exciting climax on Thursday, with Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and their families waving from the stage to throngs of wildly cheering delegates as 120,000 red, white, and blue balloons were released from the ceiling and immediately, for security reasons, shot down by Secret Service snipers.
Before that, Mitt gave a strong acceptance speech, presenting his vision for America, and then--as part of the ongoing effort to establish his humanity--stripping off his dress shirt to reveal a back zit the size of a quarter. Adding to the glamour of the night was surprise speaker Clint Eastwood, who gave a gruff-yet-eloquent endorsement of the Romney-Ryan ticket, then decked a hippie.
So overall, it was a highly successful convention for the Republicans, who are now getting out of Tampa whatever way they can, including digging tunnels under the security perimeter. Over the next few days, the thousands of law-enforcement personnel, media people, and protesters will also leave, and the actual residents of Tampa will emerge, blinking, from wherever they've been hiding. In time, the miles of butt-ugly fences and barricades and NO PARKING and ROAD CLOSED signs will be removed, and people will once again be able to venture downtown and patronize local businesses, and Tampa will gradually recover.
Then some day, years from now, some civic visionary will propose that, to enhance its national stature and reap vast financial benefits, Tampa should host another national political convention. And the people of Tampa, if they have any sense at all, will beat that visionary to death with sticks.
But getting back to the convention: The Republicans are fired up about their ticket after listening to three days of carefully themed speeches, which for your convenience I have condensed here into a single All-Purpose Republican Convention Speech:
"Good evening. I stand before you tonight as the lieutenant governor of a critical swing state, as well as a member of a minority group and CEO of the nation's third-largest manufacturer of curtain rods.
"Yes, I am living the American Dream. But let me tell you about my childhood. My family was dirt poor. In fact, we didn't even have enough dirt to go around. We all had to share one small dirt clod. At bath time, you would smear the clod onto yourself and sit in the bathtub; then, when you were done, you would smear the clod onto the next family member. The dirt didn't get washed away, because we also had no water. For that matter, we didn't have a real bathtub. We had to sit in an imaginary bathtub. And not a fancy imaginary bathtub, either: It was a nasty old used imaginary bathtub.
"But we did not complain. We did not ask the government for a handout. And do you know why? Because we also could not afford vocal chords.
"No, seriously, we did not complain because we believed in hard work. Everyone pitched in with the family business, even us kids. My father woke us up every morning before dawn and put us to work. It wasn't easy: You try selling curtain rods door-to-door at 4:30 a.m. People would throw rocks at us. We collected these and ground them up to make dirt.
"So it was a struggle, but we did not give up, and you know why? Because we believed in America, and freedom, and opportunity. Those are not just words, my fellow delegates: Those are key convention buzzwords, along with 'leadership' and 'jobs,' that will be repeated 19 million times before we finally get out of Tampa.
"And that is why I am proud to support Mitt Romney for president of the United States (pause here for applause). Thank you. Mitt Romney will bring us the leadership that we need to create jobs through freedom and opportunity and the creation of jobs in an America that is free and has leadership resulting in opportunity and jobs out the wazoo. In closing, God bless America, and we also do custom installations."
So there you have the Republican message. Now it's the Democrats' turn to present their vision for America (short version: "It's Not Our Fault").
Even as you read these words, the Democrats are starting to descend on Charlotte, whose residents and businesses have no doubt been told by civic visionaries that the Democratic convention will be a great thing for their city.
Run, people of Charlotte. Run like the wind.