Roger L. Simon

Fear and Shame on the Campaign Trail #6 — Who'll Stop the Rain?

Consider the poor anarchist. You spend your entire life espousing your ridiculous ideology and at the very moment you will finally get maximum attention and can cavort for national television cameras dressed as Guy Fawkes and spouting Bakunin (if you know who he was), immortalized forever at a presidential convention, you’re dumped on by some lousy hurricane, ruining the whole thing.

You’re waving the black flag and trying to foment revolution while all the media are indoors, interviewing each other. Chickens!

And — to make matters worse — if the hurricane is a serious emergency, you will have to rely on the federal government to evacuate you. What humiliation for an anarchist!

And, yes, the anarchists — in fact demonstrators of any sort — have been as scarce as kangaroos in the Arctic at the Republican Convention or its environs today. They evidently don’t come out in the rain and, if anything, it’s only going to get worse. So much for the Occupy movement or whatever they want to call it.

Not that it’s a lot better for the rest of us. If there’s one thing that has dominated the talk, not to mention the hearts and minds, of most people here in Tampa for the convention, it is the tremendously stringent security, far worse than what I remember from St. Paul in 2008.

Only two routes, roughly a mile and a half apart, give you entry to the convention facilities. All other streets are blocked off with staggering numbers of security personnel — soldiers, police from various venues, Secret Service, other security services, private services, etc. — on horseback, motorcycle, bicycle, automobile, and, of course, on foot. There appear to be vastly more of them than there are of us, media and delegates. At some angles from the convention perimeter, Tampa resembles a military encampment.

One insider in a position to know told me that over 60 security organizations were involved. What could be the reason for this? It’s hard to believe it’s the threat of those so-called anarchists who seem to be nowhere in evidence (or washed down a drain). Or is it?

(Yes, I know. According to one report linked by Drudge, one group of 200 demonstrators, later reduced to 100, did show up somewhere — a minuscule number in a metropolitan area that approaches three million in a country of well over three hundred million. Ten times as many people are in line for pizza at Ray’s on a bad day.)

Here’s another interesting thing that same insider told me. This intense security was not instituted by the RNC or by the Romney campaign, but by the federal government that has declared Tampa a national security area. In other words, Obama’s people are in charge of the stringent security here. They instigated it. What do they fear?

I have two theories, not necessarily contradictory. One, they just want to make the Republicans look bad — police-state types. Perhaps more importantly, the Obama folks don’t want anything violent to happen because they know convention violence most often comes from the left (cf. Chicago 1968). Violent left-wing demonstrators at the Tampa Republican Convention would be bad news for the Democrats.

Whatever happens, tomorrow (when you will most likely be reading this) my PJM cohorts and I will be trudging down endless chain-link-fenced secure pathways past endless checkpoints in what promises to be drenching rain, if not a serious hurricane. Making matters again worse, this convention — again unlike St. Paul — has two separate venues, one for the speeches themselves (the Tampa Bay Times Forum) and the other for media filing, interviews, etc (the Tampa Convention Center). These two are located several football fields apart.

Isaac, please take it easy on us.

If not, take it away, John Fogerty….

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