It’s been a tough transition for Wolf Blitzer. Last week, Wolf described the Democratic National Convention as “historic” so often that, by Day 3 of CNN coverage, he and the word were declared common-law. (This marital union of male human and adjective is widely believed to be “historic.”)
The Republican National Convention, despite the presence of the party’s first woman VP nominee and enough old white people to qualify as a John Tesh concert, was apparently not quite historic enough to be repeatedly dubbed “historic” by Wolf Blitzer. You could see him struggling to find a more suitable modifier: “Obligatory?” “Fun-free?” “Bengay-scented?”
Meantime, Republican efforts to build up Sarah Palin’s bona fides on the foreign affairs front arrived at the juncture of the surreal and the absurd. “She was commander of the Alaska National Guard!” McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds was hollering from my TV. “That’s foreign policy experience!” You make a good case, Tucker. That Alaskan National Guard command experience really can’t be beat. Americans can sleep soundly knowing that the person a heartbeat from the presidency is ready to fend off any and all unprovoked attacks by a platoon of herring.
The deeply amusing revelation that a desperate John McCain spent less time vetting his vice-presidential pick than most people spend vetting the breakfast menu at Denny’s has injected a welcome note of unpredictability into an election campaign forged from stump speeches, familiar attacks and just an endless amount of goddamn country music. What will we learn next about Sarah Palin? Does she have a yokel half-sister making moonshine in the woods of Tennessee? Has she French kissed every winning Iditarod driver since 1991? Is she soft on the Yeti menace?
But let’s not forget the assets Palin brings to the ticket. Big-time cred with social conservatives. A young family that makes the Republican party seem more “relatable.” Children, tons of children, children everywhere and more coming! And a decade of experience in Alaskan politics, giving her unmatched experience at courting the hermit vote. (You’re going red on election night, Montana!)
Palin’s appearance at the convention tonight could be what’s known in the business as a game changer. She really and truly could flame out. At the same time, there is genuine potential for political resurrection. In the hands of a skillful speechwriter, the attacks against Palin and her family, the relentless scrutiny, the tabloid focus on her young, pregnant daughter – these could all be marshaled into an emotional “moment” that generates not only sympathy but real admiration for her resolve and her strength. The key, as always, in American politics: let the tears come to your eyes, but do NOT let them flow down your cheek. Emotionality = good, crying = bad.
One final thing about the convention: Last night, a CNN reporter interviewed a young male delegate, a man of 19, who said that if he were able to meet Rudy Guiliani during the convention, “It would make my dream come true.”
Assuming this dream does indeed come true, what future dreams will this young man have?
- Being kissed on the forehead and told “There, there” by Fred Thompson.
- Wimbledon doubles. Final game. Centre court. Partner? Mike Huckabee.
- Being personally scolded to “Get off my f-ing lawn!” by John McCain.
- To meet Dick Cheney, and be personally shot in the face by him.