TALLEYRAND: The Factory-Of-Sadness Convention

Jack Gable: What are you doing here? I sent you to Cleveland.

Jack Gates: I should kill you for that alone.

In the movie Delirious, John Candy’s character writes off a rival (played by Robert Wagner) by sending him to Cleveland. Furious about his involuntary northeastern Ohio exile, Wagner’s character returns and extracts his revenge via shotgun.

Mr. Wagner (or as today’s kids would better know him as Number Two), I feel your pain.

I have a theory that somewhere in the bowels of the Eisenhower Building there is a GOP Select Committee on Bad Ideas whose raison d’etre is to conjure up terrible concepts.

I would imagine that the room has no number but is identified with a picture of Wyle E. Coyote strapped to the bottom of a large rocket with Acme on its side.

Kind of like idea of parking a Republican National Convention on the gulf coast at the peak of hurricane season. What could possibly go wrong?

And then there was the Mitt Romney Running Mate Reveal app, which was an elaborate smart phone program to buzz users about the identity of the bottom half of the hapless GOP ticket.

I guess it didn’t occur to anyone that simply shooting out a text message would accomplish that task or that an app with such a limited scope would have a short shelf-life.

And don’t get me started on ORCA.

The Republican brain-trust whipped out another winner with the decision to hold the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, a mid-sized city woefully inadequate to host an event of that magnitude.

When the field narrowed to the two, I assumed Cleveland was part of the conversation mainly as a recognition of Ohio’s importance in reaching the 270 electoral vote threshold and was not seriously being considered.

I didn’t figure that the city former Boston Red Sox pitcher Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd thought was on the ocean would actually be handed the conclave.

But if Minneapolis can be handed a Super Bowl, why shouldn’t Cleveland get the RNC?

One word: logistics.

While a convention is largely choreographed for television, it involves having to house and efficiently move around tens of thousands of people, from delegates and VIPs to volunteers and media.

In 2013, 9,000,000 passengers went through Cleveland’s airport.  In 2000, over 13,000,000 had.

By contrast, DFW, Dallas’ number one airport, had over 60,000,000 passengers pass through in 2013. Love Field, which is where discount domestic air giant Southwest Airlines is headquartered, had over 4,000,000 passengers.

The airport reference is relevant because of accessibility, number of direct flights and the average cost of flying there, since more than just delegates are expected to attend.

Dallas boasts over 60,000 hotel rooms within a 1.1 mile radius of the location of the convention, sparing attendees the Mumbai road jam that was the Raymond James Stadium transit center fiasco.

Cleveland’s own tourism website claims 22,000 hotel rooms “regionally” (an adverb that has 45 minute or longer commutes written all over it for many delegates) and in 2016 there will be “nearly 5,000” rooms in the downtown area, a capacity that would be maxed out for an NBA All Star game to say nothing of a national political convention.

And in terms of fundraising for the convention, Dallas had $20,000,000m ore than Cleveland in commitments.

After considering the transportation, hospitality and financial advantages, why did the Republican Party make such a logic-defying decision?

I wish I could point to parochial favoritism to the highest ranking Republican elected official in America (House Speaker John Boehner), but that would kind of make sense.

It was also speculated that the Texas GOP’s platform’s plank on psychotherapy as a cure for homosexuality might have scuttled the Dallas bid. While that plank is disagreeable, is that any worse or more controversial than booing God, like the Democrats did at their NATIONAL convention?

In the face of drastically disproportionate relevant comparables, it appears that Cleveland’s award was based on the hope that having the June 2016 convention somewhere, anywhere in the Buckeye State will nudge enough voters over to win Ohio for the Republican ticket that November.

In other words the same line of thinking the Nobel Peace Prize Committee employed when they gave Barack Obama their once prestigious award only months after being in office.

And if the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, then some men in white suits equipped with Brooks Brothers brand straitjackets and butterfly nets need to be on hand for the RNC’s summer meeting in Chicago.

A Republican presidential candidate has not carried the state the convention was held in since 1992.

California (San Diego 1996), Pennsylvania (Philadelphia 2000), New York (NYC 2004), Minnesota (St. Paul 2008) and Florida (Tampa 2012) all voted Democrat the year the Republicans convened their presidential nomination event those states.


And with the exception of New York City, each convention site selection was heralded as an opportunity to make a play for the host state’s electoral votes.

So the party that espouses competition and excellence engaged in the convention equivalent of affirmative action by awarding the convention to Cleveland.

Beyond the absurdity of the GOP leadership continuing its quixotic quest to flip a state to the Republican column via convention, it will be doing so by trying to squeeze a watermelon into a grapefruit-sized bag.

Let’s be grateful that Ohio’s electoral votes weren’t decided in Dayton, lest the convention end up being held in a VFW Hall.

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