Missing the Presidential Convention

Democratic Presidential Convention in Chicago in 1969: My first.
GOP Convention in Houston in 1992: My last political convention.
GOP Convention in Houston in 1992: My last political convention.

The Republican National Convention, otherwise known as the coronation of Donald Trump as the party’s presidential nominee as well as the possible death knell of both the GOP and any common sense in our American political system, kicks off Monday in Cleveland.

The increasing absurdity of our political system comes into full focus by the shores of Lake Erie this week.

Perhaps it is prophetic that the convention is based at the Quicken Loans Arena.  The GOP is begging a few of the party’s remaining fat cat donors to come up with millions to cover its debts because many of the big bucks supporters of past convention took a walk this year.

The convention is in debt up to its ass.  According to some sources, so if presumed billionaire Donald Trump.

Wells Fargo Bank United Parcel Service, JP Morgan Chase, Ford, Walgreens and Apple are just some of those who have helped fund past conventions but told the GOP this year a Trump candidacy is something they cannot stomach or financially support.

Same for many of big names of the GOP.  Two past Presidents — George H.W. Bush and son George W. Bush — are staying home.  So is Mitt Romney, the GOP candidate for President four years ago, and John McCain, the Senator, former prisoner of war and candidate in 2008.

The list of Senators who are avoiding the convention is a who’s who of the GOP:  Steve Daines of Montana, Lindsy Graham of South Carolina, Jeff Flake of Arizona and others.

Democratic Presidential Convention in Chicago in 1969: My first.
Democratic Presidential Convention in Chicago in 1969: My first.

There was a time when attendance at political conventions were part of my routine.  I attended my first one in 1968 — the infamous Chicago Democratic affair — as a reporter.  I covered various ones during my years as a newspaperman and also participated in two GOP conventions as a political operative — the last in 1992 at the Houston Astrodome,

When my plane arrived at Dulles International Airport on the day after the 2004 Presidential campaign, I vowed never to set foot on a commercial airliner again, walked away from coverage of elections of national leaders and Amy and I bought our home in Floyd County and left Washington after 23 years.

I didn’t watch conventions by either party on television in 2008 or 2012 and I doubt I even turn on the set this coming week.  I will edit articles written by others and write the headlines for the stories that will be featured on my political news web site and an occasional column about the absurdity of the political system may appear under my byline from time to time but it will be written from the comfort of home and not on a laptop in a hotel room, an airport lounge or a campaign press room.

When a wire service called and offered a 13-month gig covering the 2016 election late last year, I thought briefly about the money but decided that I could not be objective about the political carnival that undoubtedly would unfold in this bizarre election year.

So my cameras nor I will be in Cleveland this coming week or on the political trail.  I will be photographing FloydFest later this month, then will shoot video at the Galax Fiddler’s Convention and will get ready for the upcoming high school sports season.  All of these things are more satisfying.

Incredibly, those who are trying as hard as they can to make Donald Trump into something even passably palatable for candidates are claiming is the new Ronald Reagan.

“Donald Trump understands the frustrations and the hopes of the American people like no leader since Ronald Reagan,” newly named GOP vice presidential candidate Michael Pence said Saturday. “The American people are tired. We’re tired of being told that this is as good as it gets.”

Really?  I worked for Ronald Reagan in 1984.  I talked with him the Oval Office and attended several functions he hosted as the White House.  He had his good points and bad ones but he was the right President for the times back then.

Is Donald Trump the right man for the job in 2016?

God, let’s hope not.

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