When I was a child, I asked my father where babies came from. He flushed a bit and said, "Remember the tree we planted in the front yard?" I did. "Well," he continued, "the Daddy plants a seed inside the Mommy and it grows into a baby, just like that little plant grew into a tree. Do you understand?" I thought for a second and said, "I guess so, but do you have to water it every day?"
That explanation held me until I finally learned about the actual mechanics of the thing. I heard the famous "senior day sex talks" that the late Dr. Breen Bland delivered to decades of Christian Brothers High graduates, and by the time I reached college, I felt I had a pretty good handle on things, so to speak. But never, in any health class, human sexuality lecture, or biology lab, did I ever hear anybody suggest that female genitalia contains a trap door that lets the good seed in and keeps the bad seed out. That idiotic theory, voiced by Missouri senatorial candidate Todd Akin, was so dismally stupid, it got him disinvited from this week's Republican Convention in Tampa. Out of all the moronic statements made by this year's GOP presidential candidates, Akin should be sent some sort of floral arrangement by the Democrats. His comments about "legitimate rape" were so repulsive, they attracted public attention to the party's platform, which has pretty much adopted Akin's political stance in toto. Regardless of where Hurricane Isaac makes landfall, this has the makings of a perfect storm for the Republican Convention.
By the time you read this, there either will or will not have been a GOP conclave, and the city of New Orleans will or will not still be standing. Current forecasts indicate that Isaac may hit New Orleans on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, providing a terrible reminder of Republican neglect in the midst of their celebration.
I never wish anyone any physical harm, but I was fantasizing what might happen if the storm made a glancing blow at Tampa, causing the power to fail and stranding 30,000 rich Republicans in the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Nothing major mind you, just a couple of days without air conditioning and possibly some backed-up bathrooms. Or perhaps a short circuit in the VIP room, ending the Oak Ridge Boys' set. Can you imagine how fast they'd be on the roof howling for government assistance? Party leaders have already canceled the opening session, which thankfully means a 25 percent decrease in bullshit and forces the Tea Party goons to march in a non-primetime hate parade to rail about Obama and abortion.
The GOP lineup of speakers, from John Boehner to Ann Romney, will have to compete with a strengthening hurricane chugging its way up the Gulf, and on the day that Congressman Paul Ryan is to be nominated vice president, a major storm may once again strike New Orleans, making his small-government argument moot. The anti-government teabaggers should pray that, this time, the levees hold.
In a way, the hurricane may help the Republicans. With a shortened convention, Congressman Ryan may not have sufficient opportunity to explain why he co-sponsored all those restrictive abortion bills with the banned Todd Akin. Ann Romney won't have the time, while praising Mitt as the ideal man, to explain the 20-point gap between her husband and the president among women voters.
After Akin's remarks about rape victims being able "to shut all that down," when it comes to conception, I'll bet that there are hordes of Republican women who understand the dangers of the Tea Party zealots gaining real power. They may pull for Romney in public, but they'll pull the lever for Obama in the voting booth. Who could possibly believe in this age of joblessness and despair that the Republicans would be discussing abortion and birth control at their convention? Rick Santorum has been given a prime speaking spot just to hammer the point home. Despite Romney's attempt to focus on the economy, his running mate's extremism may well make this the "Abortion Convention." The party platform makes no exceptions for abortion and would have the government make certain that a pregnancy resulting from rape was carried to term. Sarah Palin once warned of imaginary "death panels." Now the GOP wants to impanel the gestation police.
I was wondering who schedules a convention in Florida in August even before I realized it was hurricane season. But it's turned out to be the proper setting for this crowd of angry white people — heat, storms, high winds, alcohol, sex, and, to top it off, Florida governor Rick Scott has declared it legal to carry firearms into the convention hall. It's almost paradise for the Tea Party mob that has hijacked the Republican Party. It also may be a good thing that Romney put Ryan on the ticket to pacify the pistol packers, or in Scott's Florida, some disgruntled wingnut might wish to take "Second Amendment remedies" should things not go his way.
Republicans are known for putting on orderly conventions, but this mixed bunch of ideologues, anti-abortion zealots, tax refusers, and Obama haters might just buck the trend. And we haven't even discussed what will become of the Ron Paul delegation.
Romney has ridden his private-sector businessman acumen to the nomination, but he may be making his acceptance speech amid a natural disaster requiring a massive public-sector response. Perhaps he might reconsider his discounting the need for more firemen, policemen, and first responders if some National Guardsman has to pull him from the convention floor in a basket dangling from a helicopter.
Randy Haspel writes the "Born-Again Hippies" blog, where a version of this column first appeared.