A Serving Of Sardonics

* Mayor Dick Greco’s recent talk to the Tampa Bay Tiger Bay Club was vintage tour de Greco. It was meandering and sentimental, corny and humorous. The World, According to Greco. And it’s always an interesting, often entertaining take. When he steps down in March, it will end an era rather than a last term.

Who else, in this high-tech, information age, could get a laugh line out of not being able to turn on a computer? Who else would have admitted to Joe Redner that “I wish I made as much money as you do”? Who else would, especially in this town, maintain that “anybody can change,” and be referring to Fidel Castro? Who else would still be defending the handling of the Steve LaBrake travesty? Who else with his prominence and impact would respond to a legacy question with: “A good guy who did his best; end of story”? Who else would have characterized his post mayoral plans as “Keep busy and make money”? Who else would have chided the media by saying, “We in government have checks and balances; the media doesn’t”? And who else would have admitted to telling Frank Sanchez: “I wouldn’t do it (if I were you)”? And then suggesting he pass on the mayoral plans to max out now on his “earning opportunities”?

Ironically, his remarks — with a heavy emphasis on media commentary — were subsequently chronicled in the St. Petersburg Times . The Tribune didn’t cover it. The page 3, Local News, SPT piece carried a “Nostalgic Greco Settles Scores With The Press” headline. It portrayed Greco as a lame duck whiner. The following day, columnist Mary Jo Melone lamented that the Tiger Bay Club attendees — ostensibly “political junkies” — “let him get away with his delivery of bromide after bromide.” The crowd was further excoriated for sitting “contentedly through this bilge.”

On the subject of the media, perhaps Greco should have summarized with: “You have all now heard my comments across a whole litany of subjects, including how the press has changed — and not always for the better. Whatever your opinion of me and this presentation, compare it to what is reported or implied in the press over the next couple of days. And see if you remember being here.

“That’s what it’s like these days.”

* If New York City wins the Republican convention for 2004, it will have won it on merit. It is America’s greatest city. It is also the site of George W. Bush’s greatest moment — in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attack. So enough of the snide, sophomoric criticisms of Tampa. That includes John Miller of the National Review who noted that while beaches are nice, the Devil Rays’ sorry status is indicative of how poorly this area fares when compared to NYC’s star power. If New Orleans, the other GOP convention finalist, were more viable than Tampa, would Miller be pointing out that the “Big Sleazy” didn’t even have a baseball team? Miller even noted that Tampa is the “home of that NFL team that used to wear those silly orange uniforms.” Grow up and stop citing professional sports franchises — and their uniforms — as indicative of anything other than a city’s worthiness for an overpriced entertainment outlet.

Miller, of course, makes the point that the home of “Ground Zero” is too symbolically important to overlook. Good point, but here’s another. Sept. 11, 2001 will never be forgotten no matter where the next GOP convention is held. But do we — in 2004 — want a week’s worth of tragedy retrospectives and victim updates? That would be an inevitable part of the week-long package, no matter how patriotic and inspiring the rhetoric from Madison Square Garden. If the focus is on the future, without forgetting the past, Tampa works just fine for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with the Rays or Bucs.

The criticism is provincially nauseating, however, when it comes from Orlando, which prefers the Disney crowd to political conventioneers who have their own funny hats and would usurp some of their hotel space. An Orlando Sentinel piece said Tampa wasn’t much more than a “picturesque waterfront and stately, but small downtown.” It doesn’t have, for example, the “gritty politics of Chicago or the swagger of New York.” So? That means cadavers can’t vote, and we’re not obnoxious. Our apologies, please. By the way, the Jets and Giants would trade records with the Bucs in a New York nanosecond. Orlando, of course, doesn’t have a football franchise to exchange records with.

* Bumper stickers you may yet see:

“It IS About ISlam.”

“Iraq: Show us yours or we’ll show you ours.”

* Speaking of Iraq, how is it that we’ve gotten so familiar with Saddam Hussein that he is routinely referenced by his first name? Don’t recall American leaders or media ever referring to Adolph, Benito or Josef.

* Talk about your paper chase. You knew Iraq wasn’t being forthcoming with its U.N. Security Council requirements’ disclosure when it took 12,000 pages to say, “No, we don’t have any (weapons of mass destruction).” And as it turns out, that may have been a 12,000-page lie.

* ABC and the rest of the national media rightfully remembered and eulogized Roone Arledge . He was a true media pioneer and innovator who earned his plaudits for having pushed TV’s envelope. And ABC, understandably, was the lionization king

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