While Democrats mingled on the floor of the Time Warner Cable Arena Wednesday evening, swapping non-blue-dress-related memories of those halcyon Clinton years, another convention of sorts was unfolding in a field 20 miles away. This was "Rock the Red," an evening of speeches, music and comedy–intentional and un–held at a farm south of downtown Charlotte, which locals call Uptown. Nothing makes sense any more.
This being North Carolina the event menu featured barbecue and cornbread, and this being conservatives' counterprogramming to the DNC, there was also a personal pizza option with "NOBAMA pepperoni" topping.
Over the course of several hours a cavalcade of talent took to the stage and/or a pile of hay bales in front of the stage: North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis (who said of the DNC: "It's kinda like roadkill–you try not to look, but you can't help looking at it"); Alan Wilson, South Carolina Attorney General and son of Rep. Joe "You lie!" Wilson; Dan Forest, son of terrorism expert Rep. Sue Myrick and candidate for North Carolina Lieutenant Governor; and Jim Martin, chairman of 60 Plus, the seniors' group for those who cannot tolerate the AARP's fanatic agenda. The AARP is so far-left it even gave Harry Belafonte an award–"Belafonte, who hobnobs with Ahmadinejad," said Martin, proving conclusively that "Belafonte, who hobnobs with Ahmadinejad" is a ton of fun to say.
But the star of the night, the attraction that shone even brighter than the brief stand-up set by the guy who played Benny on Home Improvement, was none other than Joe "Sheriff Joe" Arpaio, America's Ego-est Sheriff, the Brazen Self-Promoter of Maricopa County.
Arpaio is 80 years old and has three facial expressions: cranky, sad and cranky/sad. He had just received word that a district judge had ruled in his favor in one of the many legal proceedings that swirl around him, which meant "they're not gonna be happy campers down the street" at the DNC, because that's how important Joe Arpaio is. Then he looked cranky/sad and complained that Gov. Bev Perdue should thank him for his efforts to deport illegal immigrants, because the people he stops in Arizona are often on their way to North Carolina. Someone please get that message to the governor, and while you're at it, send one to President Obama. "I wish I could talk with the president," sad Joe Arpaio whined. "How come he doesn't invite me to the White House?"
Brief interlude here to reassure you, in case you were concerned about Joe Arpaio maybe being a little racist. "We do not racial profile," he said. "And I'm sure other law enforcement agencies don't either." What Joe Arpaio is, however, is a language purist. "I hate that word cartels," he groused. "Sounds like a French restaurant… they come up with 'cartel,' a new word." (The word cartel dates to the sixteenth century, but counting is for Mexicans.)
Joe Arpaio's rambling remarks focused heavily on Joe Arpaio ("I didn't bring security with me, but I may need it at the Democrat convention if I go down there," "I'd have been fired 20 years ago if I had to report to some bureaucrats"), but he did take a moment to address one of his signature initiatives, the policy of dressing male jail inmates in pink underwear. Why pink, Joe Arpaio? "They don't like pink. Why would you give 'em a color they like?"
As for other controversies, apparently someone has told Joe Arpaio to shut up about being a birther when there's a Q&A period with live microphones. "I don't want to get into that," he said, switching to cranky, when a man in a "The Real One" shirt tried to ask him a question. Time for one more, one more for Joe Arpaio! "Who do you admire in law enforcement?" someone called.
"Other than me?" he replied. "Just joking." Joe Arpaio looked sad.
Tags: Democratic National Convention, Joe Arpaio, North Carolina, Republicans