The Waiting Is the Hardest Part

Ground Zero, the floor of the convention, Monday afternoon, 3 p.m.  A thousand people mill about and interview each other. Local TV crews interviewing delegates, network stars doing standups in bright lights.   Camera flashes.  Politicians standing at the podium to see where the prompters have been placed.  Scanning the room from left to right:  Diane Sawyer and Jon Karl, Romney best friend Bob White, woman in red glittery cowboy hat, more cowboy hats, golf cap, Romney adviser Peter Flaherty, Michael Barone, SKY TV crew, Virginia House of Delegates member Barbara Comstock, Jim Pinkerton.  Man in Uncle Sam hat, woman in red-white-and-blue fool’s cap with horns.  Delegates:  If you want to be interviewed, wear a funny hat.   A sea of khaki—the men from the campaign in khaki slacks and blue blazers and scuffed black shoes.  You pass from cluster to cluster and hear the interview phrases: “The tough decisions that we need to make,” and “The key is to grow the economy.”

On the floor and in the lobbies, in the shuttle buses, on the sidewalk, this is what you hear:  “So what’s going on?” “So whatta ya hear?”

The secret of the convention on its putative first day:  Nobody knows anything.  Everyone is convinced the convention is happening someplace else, at some secret meeting of important people, at some great lunch.  The truth:  the convention is 5,000 people in 5,000 rooms watching TV, surfing the Net and texting each other.  That’s what it is, 5,000 people in 5,000 pods.  You know why they were all on the floor at 3 p.m. Monday?  To get out of the room.

The mood of the Republicans?  Waiting.  What’s going to be the impact of the storm?   And, with an edge of bitterness:  why exactly did the GOP schedule this thing for hurricane season in Florida?  Because they think they’re lucky with hurricanes?  And why is there no time for convention afterglow?  It used to be one party met in July and the other in August, and there was time enough between the two conventions that people could sort of think about what they’d heard and seen, mull it.  The way it is now, the Republicans disband on Friday and the Democrats arrive in Charlotte Sunday.  It’s all too close and squished together.  Will that make it one big blur?