Republican National Convention Opening Delayed
The Republican party was to start meeting today in St. Paul, MN to nominate John McCain and Sarah Palin for
President and Vice President, respectively.
However, the opening night of the convention has been completely
canceled due to
The decision to postpone the convention opening was made by John McCain who said yesterday: "I pledge that
tomorrow night, and if necessary throughout our convention... to act as Americans, not Republicans."
A very high-minded statement for which the senator is to be congratulated. As if partisanship was an odd thing
to have at a political convention. If he thinks so, he must have missed Barack Obama's speech last week because
Obama spent most of it attacking President Bush, the Republican Party, and McCain himself.
There are real two reasons the opening was postponed, both unspoken. First is this photo:
It was taken on McCain's 69th birthday, Aug. 29, 2005, the day hurricane Katrina wiped out New Orleans.
Strangely, it is still on the White House Website (click it to go there). Having the Republicans whooping it up and
yelling how inexperienced Obama is while hurricane Gustav is wreaking havoc on the Gulf Coast would remind the
voters of how little McCain and Bush did to help the people there and how inexperience is definitely bipartisan.
The second reason for scrapping tonight's show also relates to Bush. He was
scheduled to speak tonight and then take the red-eye special out of Minnesota. McCain fully understands that
the more the Democrats can associate him with Bush, the more the independents are going to believe that
McCain I = Bush III. But he couldn't very well tell a sitting President who half his party still adores to go
cut some brush on his Texas ranch for fear of alienating Bush's supporters.
The hurricane gets McCain conveniently off the hook (as was suggested here
agrees with this take.
Making Hay out of Hurricanes
John McCain has to get some credit for thinking on his feet. He may yet be able to convert the loss of
TV time due to Gustav to a plus. He is toying with the idea of having the entire convention be a kind of
memorial to the people lost in hurricane Katrina, to show that he cares. He can then blast Bush for his
incompetence three years ago. That approach allows him to put distance between himself and Bush without actually
attacking Bush's ideology. In effect, he is saying: "I agree with Bush on the basics, especially
compassionate conservatism, I would just be a whole lot better at carrying it out."
The beauty of this is that for many people it would enhance his
"maverick" status but would not offend the party regulars. It is a clever idea and might work. He is also
considering giving his acceptance speech from the Gulf Coast to show that he, unlike Bush, cares about people.
Geography and Politics
The locations of the party conventions are chosen
Two factors are paramount. First, the
city has to have the facilites to handle tens of thousands of delegates, alternates, supporters, reporters,
TV crews, bloggers, and hangers-on. Much as the Republicans would like to win New Hampshire, they couldn't
hold their convention in Concord, NH. It is just not big enough, doesn't have enough hotel rooms, and is too hard
to get to. The other factor is political: holding a convention in a particular state sends the message that the
party cares about that state and region. The Democrats met in Denver for a very good reason: Colorado is trending
blue and they will pull out all stops to win its 9 electoral votes. Half of the 84,000 tickets to Obama's
acceptance speech were reserved for Colorado residents. Each of those probably has at least 4-5 family members
including spouses, adult children, parents, etc. who can vote in Colorado. That could add up to 200,000 Colorado voters
with a very direct connection to Obama.
The Republicans chose St. Paul also for a very good reason, too. It is a clean, modern, All-American city with a reputation
for good and efficient government--exactly the image the GOP wants to project. Furthermore, the Democrats carried
Minnesota by just 2 points in 2000 and 3 points in 2004. It looked ripe for the picking. As a bonus, the Twin Cities
media market extends into Wisconsin, which the Democrats won in 2000 and 2004 by barely 1 point. And it also
extends into northern Iowa, which Bush won by 1 point in 2004 and lost by 1 point in 2000. Together the three
states are worth 27 electoral votes, the same as Florida and more than Ohio. By putting the convention there
and getting saturation TV coverage locally, the Republicans hoped the buzz would help them pick up all three
states. The decision to go to St. Paul was made several years ago. The map has changed since then. At this point,
all three of them are longshots, but at the time it was a very good idea.
The Republican Party Plank on Abortion
With Sarah Palin's strong position on abortion being one of the reasons she was selected as the Vice Presidential
nominee, Michael Kinsley wrote a
in which he says he would love to ask her whether she really supports the expected plank in the Republican platform
that will read: "We endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn
children." Legislation that gave fetuses the full legal rights of people already born has some consequences.
For example, hiring a person for the sole purpose of committing murder is a felony in all states
and carries the death penalty in some of them. If a fetus has the full rights anyone else has, then a woman
hiring someone, say, a doctor, to murder it should certainly go to prison and in states with the death penalty
should be executed. Kinsley wants to know if Palin believes that pregnant teenagers who get an abortion should be executed
for conspiracy to commit murder. So far, nobody has asked Palin that, but it would be interesting to hear her answer.
Update on Troopergate
Speaking of Palin, if you haven't been following Troopergate, check out this
from Josh Marshall at TPM. In a nutshell, there have been allegations that Palin used her position
as governor to try to fire her state trooper ex-brother-in-law, Mike Wooten,
who was in a bitter child custody battle with her sister.
When the Commissioner of Public Safety, Walt Monegan, refused to fire Wooten, Palin fired him.
Initially Palin denied having any of her staff
try to pressure the Dept. to fire Wooten, but then a police recording surfaced in which one of her staff was
clearly putting on pressure to get Wooten fired, so she backtracked and said yes there was pressure but she didn't
know her staff was doing this. The full recording is available
The first few minutes are about a different topic, not relevant to this discussion.
Here is an
in which the irrelevant material has been deleted. This is indicated by a bleep sound 42 seconds into the call.
Nothing else has been changed.
The only poll today is a CNN national poll that puts Obama at 46%, McCain at 44%, Nader at 4% and Barr at 2%.
Don't you believe it. Nader got 2.7% of the vote in 2000 and 0.4% of the vote in 2004. Do you believe Nader
will do 10 times better this year than in 2004, presumably because so many Democrats can't stand Obama?
Even the PUMA voters aren't going to be voting for Nader in droves. Third party candidates always do well in
early polls because voters who really like, say, Nader, want to help him by telling the pollsters they are
going to vote for him. But when push comes to shove, they don't do it. Nader will be lucky to beat his 0.4% of
last time. Barr is a different story. Many libertarian Republicans are genuinely unhappy with the direction
their party has taken under Bush.
He might get 1-2% nationally but probably won't have much effect.
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