As usual, there are scattered reports of bad behavior among delegates and other attendees at the GOP convention. Conventions are famous – historically moreso than in the modern context – for their unruliness. Animated shouting matches, occasional physical violence, and the kind of quasi-fascist screaming/chanting/groupthink/mob mentality that is disturbing to watch on a very visceral level; all of this is par for the course.
Here is a very important thing to keep in mind when attempting to make sense of the bursts of ugliness that occur throughout the conventions: A lot of the people you are watching are drunk. Really, really drunk.
I have had the opportunity to witness two conventions up close – one from each party – and to describe it as Adult Spring Break would almost be an understatement. The level of drunkenness and the extent of the partying that these often elderly people engaged in for a week was shocking, even for someone who has attended or worked at three Big Ten universities and one in the SEC. Not only do they drink like they have John Bonham's liver stashed in their hotel suite, but they do it around the clock. I'd wager that by the time the evening speechifying begins a substantial portion of the attendees are tipsy or worse. And "tipsy" seems to be the appropriate description for those who are at least trying to behave. Some of the others are staggering around fully shit-housed by noon.
There are exceptions, of course. Some of the super church-y attendees are unlikely to partake, for example. But when you're watching at home and wondering why they're chanting like they're at a football game, blurting out really racist things in the presence of the media, or simply looking a little red-faced and weird in general, keep in mind what no news commentator bothers to point out despite the fact that it is useful information: they're probably drunk. New Year's Eve drunk in some cases. Irish Wedding drunk. 21st Birthday drunk. Oops-I-Crapped-My-Pants drunk. Don't let the pageantry and the old age of the participants fool you; this thing is little more than a massive, highly choreographed commercial taking place during a week long cocktail party. Those new items about the bars and strip clubs in Tampa cashing in on the convention might be amusing but they are also true.