It's hard to know what's stranger: waiting 20 minutes, jostling for position with old ladies, rednecks and Republicans (imagine that as a Venn diagram), to see ducks march down a red carpet into an elevator -- or the Republican hob-nobbing, deal-making, drinking and all-around politicking going on here in Memphis. It's Circus Republicus here at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. When I stepped out of the elevator at the Peabody hotel, the first familiar face I saw was Karyn Frist's. Bill M.D. wasn't far behind, meeting and greeting, looking quite spiffy in his light-brown suit. He's not slated to speak until tomorrow, but this is his home turf and he's damn well taking advantage of it. (Witness all the "Frist is my Leader" stickers around.)
As I write from my hotel room in downtown Memphis -- taking a break from the action while they feed the party faithful -- I'm listening to "Battle Hymn of the Republicans," an anthem for the Grand Old Party written by a Missouri OB/GYN named Scott Magill. He and his lady-friend (I'm sure they weren't sharing a bed outside of marriage) were eager to tell me all about the song, which he wrote as a fight song for the party. They're trying to keep America from becoming a further socialized state. "Glory, Glory Hallelujah. Don't let anyone ever rule ya. We are the Grand Old Party that will save our noble land. We are Re-pub-li-cans." Sung, of course, to the tune of Battle Hymn of the Republic (MIDI version). "This is our blessed nation and we passionately shall rise, tears of love within our eyes." You get the idea.
Needless to say, I'm glad I packed that bottle of Jack Daniel's. But don't worry -- the conventioneers have been drinking since before 3. So we've got that in common. Speaking of which, I'm going to lose the jacket and loosen the tie (that's right, skeptics -- jacket and tie) a bit and work on this beverage. Meantime, for more regular updates than mine, I'd stick with the Hardball with Chris Matthews
. They've got a few more folks around than your lowly alt-weekly. In fact, Chris is doing the show live (taped interviews) from the lobby, which accounts for 50 percent of the zoo-like atmosphere. He's weird, but not as weird as Howard Fineman, who's lurking around the Peabody with his bad combover, talking to anyone he can pigeonhole.UPDATE (6:55 p.m.):
Did the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee really pay for this web site
? Now that