The Corner

Tampa Tidbits

Buttons, I think, have almost disappeared from American life. Not the kind of buttons that holds your shirt together. I mean buttons with messages and whatnot. When you have Facebook, Twitter, etc., who needs buttons? But buttons — political buttons — very much survive at conventions. Which is nice.

‐On a street corner, a Ron Paul supporter was holding forth with a bullhorn. Very loud. He had a little crowd. I think bullhorns are terribly unfair: They subject everyone to your speech, whether people want it or not. I feel the same way about music, sometimes. (Often.)

‐I have met a fair number of Ron Paul supporters, and, oddly, they seem aggrieved — gypped, ripped off, disadvantaged, somehow. Paul runs in Republican presidential primaries. He doesn’t win the nomination. Most of those who run in primaries don’t win the nomination. So? That’s life in the big city.

‐A man held up a sign that said, “GOP, You’re Not Welcome Here.” Does he get to decide for all of Tampa? All of Florida? The sheer arrogance of that sign.

‐Another sign said, “GOP: Greedy, Out-of-Touch Panderers.” That’s what “GOP” stands for, see? I don’t mean to overthink this, but isn’t it just slightly odd for the out-of-touch to pander?

‐At the moment, I’m looking at John Engler, the former governor of Michigan, and Connie Mack, the former senator from Florida. Two impressive politicians, and very different types, physically. In a way, Engler was Chris Christie before Chris Christie was cool.

‐Saw Bob Ehrlich, the former governor of Maryland, and his marvelous wife Kendall. If there’s a President Romney — he could do worse than have Ehrlich in the cabinet. (Either one of them.)

‐Last night, some of us were driving to dinner and came upon a parking lot. The sign said, “$5.” Five-dollar parking! I murmured, “We’re not in Manhattan anymore.” (Maybe Manhattan, Kansas.) Very nice.

‐Looking now at Congressman Eric Cantor. Word is, President Obama strongly dislikes him, personally. Makes me feel all the better about Cantor. (Shouldn’t people named Cantor sing? Not mandatory, I realize — just desirable.)

‐Swam in the Gulf of Mexico the other night — like bathwater, both in temperature and placidity.

‐Florida is very, very cementy, as everyone knows. But the “old Florida” manages to come through. Where there’s not cement, there’s something wet and lush — primitive-seeming. And I’m not sure the fowl, the birds, can be beat, anywhere.

I hereby offer a slogan to the Department of Tourism: “Florida: It’s for the birds.”

‐The locals, at least some of them, pronounce “hurricane” “hurrickin” — a variant that’s music to my ears (un-bullhorned).