On the prowl: The Republicaniest Republican of them all
For Republicans with red blood running through their veins--blood that connects them to the murdered unborn, that boils at the thought of higher taxes for the wealthy, and that, they will concede if you ask them, binds them to the gays, though not to the gays' gayness--it promised to be the night of the year. And as Sarah Palin sat in her hotel room, nervously practicing a speech she'd written perhaps a fifth of, it seemed fitting to commemorate her impeding coronation as queen of American conservatism by locating the Republicaniest Republican in the convention hall. The field, as you might imagine, was bewilderingly vast and competitive.
Let's start with this guy:
The towel this fellow named Dick Stewart is holding was one of those produced for the Pennsylvania delegation to display, he told me, during the Palin speech. It borrows on the cultural currency of the "terrible towels" waved by Steelers fans at home games. If you saw Stewart walking down the street, even minus the anti-Obama paraphernalia, you'd probably give him at least a 9 on the Republican meter. Here? A generous 4.
Being the the Republicaniest Republican means living the dream every day. It doesn't mean getting in costume once every four years and calling it good. That's why this guy, even though he got up and pumped his first severely and hooted menacingly when Mitt Romney told him never to be ashamed of anything the United States has ever done, was never in serious contention. 6.
Then there's this West Virginia couple. (WARNING! NSFW! NSFW!)
Nora and Michael Ankrom stand out for the sheer audacity--and there's no way to sugarcoat this--of the oversized dildo mounted to her head. About 10 minutes after this photo was taken, Nora was pepper-sprayed, handcuffed, and escorted out through a ramp off the side of the floor by St. Paul police officers. A police spokesman says she faces a gross misdemeanor charge of inciting a riot and that she will be formally charged and/or released within 72 hours.* The couple earns, on chutpah alone, a score of 5.
Oh shit! It's Curt Schilling! And just a day after I got to meet Jared Allen! Oh. Nevermind, it's just some random well-nourished Republican. Sorry, man, it's going to take more than wearing the jersey of a flat-taxing sports icon to get you into contention in a field like this. 4.
Like the rest of the Oklahoma delegation on Wednesday, this man was dressed in a tacky, but not terribly interesting, blue blazer. In the above photo, he is taking a picture documenting the physical proximity of his two least-favorite networks: MSNBC and Aljazeera.
"Isn't it fitting that those two are right next to each other!" he said with relish to a friend standing nearby, throwing in a hearty guffaw for good measure.
This is what he was photographing:
For his keen eye, this man earns an 8.
This gal from the Lower East Side, Rory M., makes up for lack of experience through sheer enthusiasm.
Rory's birthday is coming up, and in the five minutes we spoke she told me at least three times that she couldn't have imagined "a better Sweet 16 than this."
"Before I came here, I was a libertarian," she elaborated. "But now I'm a Republican."
An impressionable swing aspiring-voter! And a bubbly one at that! But wait. What changed her mind? Her answer was long on words, short on illumination. "They really believe in life," she said, more or less, "and they truly want to help people."
"Don't ever try to tell me that Republicans aren't good people," she concluded. "It was a Republican who got me on the floor of the convention!"
Scarcely 16, this girl's got time to grow into her Republicanness. I worry, though, that her liberal surroundings--which include, she told me, a liberal mother--may stunt her development. As it stands, she's a 2.
OK, so this lady:
An unsmiling Colorado delegate, she used her spare time here not venturing out into the great unknown of St. Paul, or Bloomington, or wherever her hotel is, but to hole up in her room with a bunch of coasters and a sharpie. This fear of difference and aversion to even the most pedestrian form of adventure, deeply Republican traits both, get her off to a solid start.
And look at her work! She's got talent! Not a lot, but some!
Even though she falls into the aforementioned "costume" trap, she did, in our brief interaction, seem crazy enough to maybe wear this shit to work on a Casual Friday. Hard to tell. But she earns a 9.
The only speechmaker to make our cut is Rudy Giuliani.
In textbook Rudian high-handed shameless fashion, the former New York City mayor stood before a 15,000 square-foot LCD screen bearing a shimmering image of Manhattan's financial district, with the implicit absence of the Trade Towers. A 9/11 reference, yes, but too subtle, I fear, for the delegates not hailing from the tri-state area. And Florida. Probably some of the Floridians got it. Not enough to ever put Rudy over the top there, as we've learned, but enough to make him feel loved on his frequent visits to Fort Lauderdale.
Shimmering backdrops aside, Rudy gave a mean-spirited and unquestionably effective speech, going off the teleprompter to add flourishes. Rudy, whose presidential campaign was done in before it began by his three wives, scary looking face and excessive and pulsating meanness, gets an 8, which, for him, is really, really good. (On his way out of the VIP booth after Palin's speech, a New Yorker--a delegate, I assume--shouted, "Rudy--you were Babe Ruth tonight!")
And here, with his bride-to-be, is Levi Johnston, the 18-year-old whose combination of libido and an anti-condom upbringing have brought him to the cusp of second-family status. He's a handsome young man who clearly cleans up well, and he's wearing a McCain pin. He gets a provisional 7, with the over-under on his impeding marriage at 3.5 years.
Which brings us all to the big winner. Drumroll?
Ladies and gentleman, please meet...
...well, his business card says Dennis G. Lennox II, though he's instructed me to just call him Dennis Lennox.
At 24, and a recent journalism/political science double-major from Central Michigan University, Lennox is already seeking public office. He's running for Cheboygan County Drain Commissioner. He won the Republican primary, he told me, and expects to beat the Democratic incumbent--who's played fast and loose with the books, Lennox says--in the general election. "I can say with confidence that I look forward to my coming term as Cheboygan County Drain Commissioner," he told me.
Dennis, obviously, earns a perfect 10.
*Lest there be any confusion, this didn't actually happen.