Day 1: The "Majority" Report (Crazy times here at the RNC in Tampa)
Attached is a photograph of the document that the AZGOP leadership asked our 29 delegates to sign. The story here is that the RNC has proposed some very controversial changes to their own rules, and they are looking to quell any discord by being able to present evidence from each state that they had majority support for the new rules. AZGOP wasn't after 29 signatures, just 15, which is 50% + 1.
A tea partier got corralled into signing it, though she resisted for a bit. But it didn't matter, Gov. Brewer just wants to tell Reince Preibus that she has a majority of support for the "majority report".
No one has seen the majority report, nor the minority report crafted by a coalition of individuals from many states and several entire states.
That is what is going on here. Not a shred of transparency, not a dash of sensibility, just "trust us". And it is easy to get a majority in this group.
If some of the rules we have heard of, straight from the mouths of rules committee members, pass, it wil weaken the Republican Party. It will make the tent smaller and increase the influence of small groups, even down to one person - the presumptive presidential nominee.
The press will also be gleeful that the Republicans have been so foolish, so I expect some decent coverage if it passes tomorrow. Business starts at 2 pm EDT time Tuesday.
Day 2: The Sinking of the Maine. delegates
The big news and the big ruckus at the Republican National Convention today was that the elected Maine delegates were denied the opportunity to participate as delegates. The chair only held a voice vote, and it sounded like the nays were louder, but he summarily announced the ayes had it and moved on with business. That's when hundreds and hundreds of delegates started calling for a roll call. When that failed, a great number of the thousands in the entire Tampa Bay Times Forum started chanting "Seat them now." It went on for maybe 90 seconds. So, many of the the people elected in Maine to cast their vote for the next Republican presidential candidate did not get that chance.
The next ruckus broke out when a vote was held on the new rules. While I'm sure you can get a better report by reading on the internet, I'll tell you what I've been able to figure out, from quizzing Arizona delegation members who served on the Convention Rules Committee, and the chairman of the Standing Rules Committee is from Arizona.
1) Rule 40 - changed it from "plurality from 5 states" to "majority from 8 states". Rules do change - that is a given, but this rule was made retroactive! So, even though candidates have been campaigning for a year and a half, and two had met the old requirement, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, that was all for not for Dr. Paul, because the bar was raised today! So, he was walking on the quicksand that is the rules of the Republican National Committee, and this man was not even allowed the dignity to finish in 2nd place and to address his fellow Republican leaders at the convention.
2) Rule 16 - changed the rule to circumvent the occasional practice of delegates not voting for the candidate the state party expects them to vote for. For example today, three members of the Arizona delegation defied the Governor and the rules and voted for Ron Paul. It was just 3 of 29, so it made no difference in the long run. The new Rule 16, effective next convention in 2016, says that if a delegate does not vote according to state law or state party rule, they will have been considered to have resigned and the delegation chairperson just changes their vote.
The Romney campaign tried to make this rule even tougher by having the ability to disallow any delegate and substitute them with their own. Fortunately, this did not pass but only after a huge fight by several states and coverage in major newspapers like the New York Times.
I read the rules from one end to the other (in my own quick read style), and the part that kept flipping back to is the very first sentences - the Preamble:
"BE IT RESOLVED that the Republican Party is the party of the open door. Ours is the party of liberty, the party of equality, of opportunity for all and favoritism for none."
I don't think I could come up with any greater example of hypocrisy than to compare that statement to what happened today.
I had to recharge my electronic devices around 7 pm, so I went and hung out with the press, and I was able to speak with a couple reporters for a couple top 10 newspapers. I asked what they thought so far, and of course, they loved the controversy about the Maine delegates and the rules. One said, I'll probably give more column inches to the Maine delegates and the new "smaller tent" rules than I will to Ann Romney, Gov. Chris Christie and all the rest.
That's Day 2. =============
Day 3: Business as usual
There was very little agitation at the convention today as there was no business, just speakers and singers.
The tribute video for Ron Paul was less than 4 minutes long, which was probably the shortest segment of the whole evening. And of course, the Romney supporters from Arizona around me who know next to nothing of what Dr. Paul really stands for where making snide remarks and sneering faces when thousands of people would cheer for something he or his congressional peers said something beautiful about the Constitution or liberty. The video hardly scratched the surface of the principles Congressman Paul has promulgated with such perseverance for 30 years in Congress, not even getting 10 seconds per year of this statesman's service to our country.
Most of the day for me was filled with conversations about the rules business from yesterday. An Arizona representative on the Convention Rules Committee said that the discussion was that the rule (increasing number of states from 5 to 8) was needed to stop the nomination of Dr. Paul, and so it had to be retroactive. The chairman of the Standing Rules Committee told me that the Rule 40 change was not to stop Ron Paul from being nominated because he didn't have the states or the votes. Of course, I pointed out to him that simple thinking about his words leads to one path or another - that of the fool or that of the poor liar.
The fool because only an idiot would make a new rule take effect immediately and retroactively while also saying that it wasn't needed until four years from now.
Or the mentally impoverished prevaricator because if Dr. Paul didn't have the votes, there was no need for any rule changes, especially ones that took effect immediately and retroactively.
Silence was his reply, and I was left to decide for myself whether he and his comrades were neither wise nor brilliant or both.
Amongst the non-rules committee members of the Arizona delegation, there is nary a glimmer of comprehension of what transpired with the rules. Their thinking is that if their leaders said the rule changes were good, they didn't need to give it a second thought. One person asked me today, "Are you feeling a lot better about things today since we got past that nasty little episode (rules business) yesterday, and you've heard all the great speakers?"
I had to tell them that there was nothing to feel better about because the injustice had not been rectified, and worse - it had been made permanent.
They said that they didn't understand how we could be upset as all that was done was to fix the loopholes the Ron Paul supporters were exploiting. Isn't that just the convenient label to use anytime reality turns out to be different than lazily imagined? And the perfect cure for such self-inflicted "injury" is retroactive application.
They see nothing wrong with changing the scoring rules of the game after play has concluded and the champion is to be scored and crowned, because such behavior did, after all, prevent a pesky extra inning which would serve no purpose but to delay the announcement of their victory.
They mention the rule of law over and over, but pretend that they can't see the brazen disregard for it that they are supporting, even personally orchestrating.
They can't comprehend how they have closed off a wing of their "very inclusive" tent, all in the name of their crusade for purity to principles of very questionable quality.
One member even had the audicity to say to me, "Well, we're the majority. Why shouldn't we be allowed to change the rules when we have the votes?"
DISGUST is too mild a word!
Good night to Day 3. Concluding Day 4 awaits.