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[Political Asylum]

In Search of the RNC Dissenters

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At first I thought the quote of the day had to go to John Boehner, who explained to a gathering of Republicans at breakfast the controversy of his name: “People have trouble with my name. Is it Bainer? Bonner? Boner? . . . At least it’s not Weiner!” But probably it should go to Jim Bunning, the former senator from Kentucky who, when asked if he missed Capitol Hill and the current political scene, reached for a nearby metaphor and said, “Yeah, I miss it. I miss it like cancer of the rectum.”

I continued, along with Kevin, to search for the massive turnout of protesters that were supposed to explain the overwhelming projection of force and security here. Last night, just before the main speeches began, we wandered out beyond the arena to a lot beside a factory. There, behind an iron fence, is the protesters’ pen. About two dozen people inside were holding up signs protesting that there wasn’t enough discussion of the persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt. A Ron Paulite pressed his sign against the steel mesh, leaning into it, exhausted.

It’s obvious that protesting is a major annoyance for both parties, since the whole idea of the convention is to script every precious moment for television. Although, from what I hear, very little of the action in Tampa is landing on any television outside PBS and ABC. The cables are surely covering it, but it’s not clear just who is receiving this story line aside from media junkies, true believers, and the opposition.

Some protesters are permitted outside the official protest corral. The RonPaulites can be seen in clumps here and there, shouting their esoteric chants. “End the Fed! End the Fed!” (Clearly an anti-Latino riff—I kid.) We passed a group of enraged Christians who were screaming that Mormonism was not a true Christian faith and that Mitt would be just as big a disappointment as Obama. They held up big signs about hell and homosexuals, and might have been confused with the Fred Phelps crew nearby, shrieking their own anally obsessed messages over by the tent hosting the Gingrich documentary. But it was one particular anti-Mormon whack who got everybody’s attention. The guy had a bullhorn and was bawling about how Mitt presumed he will become a God and would inherit a universe and have multiple wives and convert all the dead to his creed.

“Weird,” Kevin noted as we walked by. “Everything he’s saying is theologically accurate.”

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