Monday, May 21, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: Why GOP in Sin City? I haven't the Vegas idea

Perhaps if the Las Vegas thing doesn't quite work out for the Republican National Committee's 2016 presidential nominating convention, the party can turn its sights to other worthy contenders such as Tijuana, the Love Canal, Three Mile Island, or maybe Baghdad, where the good life gets blown up every day.

This is not a joke. Well, it is actually. And it's a dream come true for Jon Stewart, Saturday Night Live, editorial cartoonists and, yes (full disclosure), snarky columnists.

But it appears the city godfathers of Las Vegas have launched a concerted effort to woo the RNC convention to Liberace Land when it next gathers to anoint a presidential nominee.

One can only fathom the scene on the first session of the convention when a pulchritudinous show girl wearing only a feather boa strolls across the rostrum holding a boxing ring card announcing: "Night One — Battle of the Clint Eastwood Impersonators."

Then keynote speaker Don Rickles gets things going by constantly referring to RNC chairman Reince Priebus as a "hockey puck." For this week only, the famed Vegas attraction changes its name to the Red Man Group to mime the national anthem.

It would seem to be a certifiably dippy idea to award the Republican National Convention to a city that has reveled in its Sodom and Gomorrah meets Caligula's Rome reputation. But this is the GOP, after all, many of whose candidates for the presidency congregate every four years as if they were a Raccoon Lodge of the loopy.

The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce may want to trumpet the city's proximity to Hoover Dam and other saccharine destinations. But most people, when they hear the name Las Vegas, can't quite shake Martin Scorsese's head-in-a-vise scene from Casino.

It would probably be the ultimate disconnect from reality for a political party that loves to promote a family-values, godly pillar of virtue image to hold its nominating convention in a locale best known for "What pays in Vegas, strays in Vegas." Really now, can anyone honestly imagine possible Republican nominee Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who is wound tighter than a Kenworth truck suspension spring, showing up in Las Vegas to discover the delegates will be counted by Keno card drawings?

And of course, the pressure would be intense for Jeb to pick Vegas darlings Donny and Marie as his running mate.

Even though Vegas would make about as much sense as settling on liberal bastion Berkeley, Calif., for the Republican convention, it is probably not out of the question that the party might well settle on Las Viagra for one very obvious reason: money.

One of the Las Vegas convention proponents is local resident and zillionaire Sheldon Adelson. He spent nearly $53 million of his own money supporting losing GOP candidates in 2012, which might suggest that politically speaking the mogul is an easier mark than a video poker chump.

However, Adelson wields a mean checkbook in Republican circles, which suggests Las Vegas can't be entirely counted out. And then there is the potential competition.

Other cities vying for the convention include Columbus, Ohio; Kansas City, Kan.; Phoenix and Denver. You can probably rule out Denver since Colorado just legalized marijuana and there would be inevitable comparisons to the 2008 Democratic convention held in the (now literally) Mile High City. Phoenix is just as hot as Las Vegas in July-August at over 100 degrees, but as least the drinks are free in the casinos.

That leaves Columbus in the vital swing state of Ohio and Kansas City, which is probably a very nice place if anyone ever thought to go there.

No doubt legions of Sin City buttoned-down, winged-tipped lobbyists are sure to descend on Washington to cajole Republican Party leaders in an attempt to portray their city as Brigadoon meets Mayberry — pay no mind to those brass poles, spinning roulette wheels and scary-looking guys named Cheech.

But it is still a marketing challenge to promote a city whose founding father was the very late mobster Bugsy Siegel, who met a Moe Greene-like end, as the ideal spot to nominate a conservative faith and values candidate as the party's presidendial hopeful — unless the ticket turns out to be Donald Trump and Charo.

"Vote for the Great Pumpkin and Cuchi-Cuchi!" Well, one can always hope.

The final decision for the RNC convention host city won't be announced for a while, giving David Copperfield time to figure out a way to make Columbus, Denver, Phoenix and Kansas City disappear.

What might we title this political game of thongs? "Ocean's 2016"?

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