Sunday, August 31, 2008
Republican National Convention: Day One
We have arrived in Minnesota! We are staying tonight in the Staybridge Suites at Bloomington, which is the suburb that is south-southwest of Minneapolis. As for distance (for those familiar with Knox County, Tennessee), think Turkey Creek to downtown Knoxville.
Travel to our destination couldn't have been easier. Traffic to Atlanta was light, and we breezed through Hartfield Airport check-in and security in under 20 minutes. On a holiday weekend at one of the world's busiest airports, I was a bit surprised by our speedy trip to the gate. The flight on Delta was also uneventful, with one exception. Several members of the Georgia delegation were also on the flight, and we all had our fill of the Ron Paul supporters who accompanied us to Minnesota. It seems that Ron Paul supporters can be grouped into two different categories - aging academics that were greatly impacted by the Vietnam War, and smelly twenty-somethings that believe their lives to be overly interesting and unfair. At least, that was what we encountered on our flight. In any case, it appears that they neglected to read the memo where their man - rightly or wrongly - will not be President of the United States next year.
After arriving at the Staybridge Suites (which is a fantastic hotel thus far), Angela and I walked a few miles to explore our surroundings. It's my first time in Minnesota, and it is not at all what I expected. Everything is very green, the air remarkably clean and fresh, and lakes and rivers seem to be ubiquitous. I'm not sure if it's just the RNC being here this week or if this is commonplace, but the level of hospitality that we have experienced thus far rivals Southern hospitality. I'm not sure if I can give a higher compliment than that.
Dinner was at Fuddrucker's (where we caught some SEC domination of the Clemson Tigers), and Angela retired for the night shortly after we arrived back at the hotel. That's probably a good thing, because our schedule over the next 6 days borders on the ridiculous. It will be a physical challenge just to make it through our extensive itinerary.
Tomorrow brings a change to the Tennessee delegation hotel at the Mall of America, picking up our credentials, attending a movie premier, hobnobbing at the Convention Delegation Party, and an after-party in one of Minneapolis' finer clubs.
One area of concern involves members of the lunatic Left and their "protests." As others can attest, protesters at various conservative events (the Southern Republican Leadership Conference and the Stand in the Gap rally come to mind) are often more punchline than punch out. That does not appear to be the case here. The local news tonight consisted of 15 minutes (at least) of raids, arrests, warrants, and interviews related to leftist fringe groups facing criminal penalties for planning physical violence and mayhem meant at disrupting the RNC. One environmental group was detained, although the pigs, chickens and dogs that accompanied the humans in the bus were released. The buses used to transport the delegates are under armed guard due to threats, and I can only guess that the stage for the Beach Boys concert (which is parked in trucks near our hotel) has been targeted, too, since Secret Service has been over here multiple times throughout the day. The lunatic Left - they're not just for laughing at anymore...
Like the rest of the country, delegates here in Minneapolis are greatly concerned about Gustav bearing down on Louisiana. While we all would have loved to have heard from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, I haven't heard one delegate here exclaim that they should leave their states in this time of crisis to attend the RNC here in Minneapolis. Our prayers are with our American brothers and sisters in the path of this horrific storm.
The honor of being a part of all of this is starting to sink in. Much like the Republican nominee for Vice President, neither Angela nor myself comes from the advantaged class that tends to comprise those chosen as delegates, VIPs, or elected officials in our system of government. Angela hails from Hopkinsville, Kentucky, the daughter of a Southern Baptist preacher and a school teacher. I am from Bluff City, Tennessee, the son of an electrical engineer and a paralegal. We have both been blessed to participate in so many wonderful political events, from inaugurations to campaigns to the creation of laws. That we will be at the Republican National Convention this week, assisting the Party in bidding good bye to one President and selecting the potential President a few nights later, has not been lost on us.
The above being said, I want to set some context for future posts. I am not a credentialed blogger for the Republican National Convention, and that is probably a good thing. I've been credentialed on many other occasions, and, rightly or wrongly, being designated as such can have an effect on one's blogging of events. This way, I can retain my objectivity, and, as regular readers know of my past (some would say constant) criticisms of the Republican Party, I will not be afraid to dish out some smack if it is called for. (I read a few of the blogs that covered the Democratic National Convention, and I'm convinced that some of them would have happily reported the bright side of even the most despicable actions if the offenders at the DNC would have been Democrats. Objectivity was out the window to the point where their "reports" were nothing more than Astroturf press releases from the Democratic Party.) My aim is to stay clear of that obstacle. The downside of not being credentialed is that my posts will be either very late at night or very early in the morning. Only credentialed bloggers and media can carry their laptops past security, so my blogging will be tethered to my hotel.
Of course, I am a conservative, and I have worked, campaigned for, and given all that I can for the Republican Party on multiple occasions. I will not - and perhaps could not - leave that part of me behind when blogging the Republican National Convention. I will view the events here through that perspective. There will probably be aspects that the conservative in me will love, and there will probably be aspects that the conservative in me will hate. I will try to bring both to you as truthfully as I can.
That truthful reporting will also include references to whom is paying for all of these events. I read with some dismay the criticism of Democratic delegates accepting food, beverages, etc., in Denver last week. Folks, delegates and other attendees of these conventions pay their own way to the conventions. Flights are expensive. Hotel rooms are double or even triple what they would normally be if the convention was not in town. The local government raised sales tax rates temporarily and authorized taxis to charge more for this week. It is expensive (especially for Angela and I, who had to close our firm for a week on top of the expenses associated with the trip). However, I also understand some of the concern with certain event sponsorships (particularly the AT&T breakfast for Democrats that handed the telecom giant gift-wrapped legislation in Tennessee earlier this year). I will make every effort to give you the full picture, allowing for you to decide if there are any inappropriate sponsorships occurring.
Well, that's it for tonight. I had better get some sleep, because it is going to be a long week.