Reflections on the RNC

Attending the Republican National Convention was a wonderful experience, one that I hope each of you have the opportunity to realize some day. I would like to publicly thank Pajamas Media for paying my way and getting me credentials - even though the accommodations for bloggers was not what they could have been.

And I would also like to thank our editor in chief here at American Thinker, Thomas Lifson for granting me time off to fly off to Minnesota. Time and internet access precluded me from posting here as much as I would have liked and Mr. Lifson's generosity in taking over almost all of the posting duties on the blog is much appreciated. 

My impressions of the event are necessarily colored by the fact that you at home probably had a better overall understanding of what went on by watching it on TV. Inside the Xcel Center was like being in a bubble; you could vaguely discern what was going on by talking to people and by taking a few rushed readings of other analysts thoughts via AT and other media sites. For instance, in catching up with my reading this morning, I was amazed at the raging controversy over the firing of the public safety commissioner and how the MSM dug its claws into this story and is trumpeting every tidbit of information - relevant or irrelevant - in order to knock down Palin's candidacy.

Other controversies I received only an echo of their importance. You got the sense that Palin was under siege but I didn't really know why until today. It made her speech even more remarkable in that respect in that she was under such enormous pressure to perform well. Logic would dictate that expectations would have been low due to her inexperience on the national stage. But it turns out - and I didn't know this at the time - that the press, by pushing these controversies, actually raised expectations for her speech to stratospheric levels. The fact that she was able to wildly exceed even the elevated expectations is the most compelling story of the convention and a measure of the woman John McCain chose as his running mate.

That entire night was magical. Perhaps it was because the first two nights - with the exception of Fred Thompson's surprisingly animated and impassioned address - were so pedestrian. In fact, I thought that the convention was rather listless until Wednesday with the party seeming to go through the motions of having such a confab in the first place. 

But all that changed when Mitt, Rudy, and the Huckster served as warm up acts for Palin's turn as starring temptress/hockey mom/pit bull. Giuliani was especially effective as he had the crowd screaming for the blood of the infidel Democrats. Huckabee was funny, warm, and very appealing while skewering Obama. Only Romney's address seemed slightly off putting at times. He came across as a little mean at times but was otherwise an effective advocate.

I can tell you that immediately prior to Palin's speech, the hall was crackling with anticipation. I have felt this same feeling from a crowd prior to the curtain going up at a hit Broadway show and before a big ballgame. The delegates were ready to roar and the noise that rose up from the floor when Palin made her entrance was almost a living thing. The air literally shook and the waves of emotion rolling from one end of the Excel Center floor to the other caused even the most cynical observer (me) to feel for the tiny figure on that huge stage. You were willing her to do well, to smash her detractors and those seeking to undermine her candidacy with a home run of a speech that would shut them up.

And then for 40 minutes the crowd rocked and rolled and laughed and even shed a tear. A few women I noticed were actually crying during parts of the speech - no doubt overcome with the emotion of seeing a woman in her moment of triumph and realizing the historical nature of it. When it was done and McCain came on stage, the roar got even louder - an impossibility but somehow, the 20,000 partisans in attendance managed it easily. 

McCain's speech was hardly a letdown but engendered an entirely different feeling. Perhaps it was the sobering realization of the tough challenges that are facing the country and the party. There was little red meat thrown by McCain in his address - a few elliptical references to Obama's weaknesses. Other than that, McCain sought to do something Obama has never done and apparently cannot do; he tried to give a logical, realistic, and heartfelt justification for people to vote for him.

If you've listened to a lot of John McCain speeches, you probably know that he rarely brings up his captivity. When he does, he uses his experience as a POW as an allegory for some larger point he is trying to make.

I had never heard John McCain talk about his captivity at such length and in such searing detail. You could tell it was difficult for him as he was nearly overcome with emotion a couple of times. But in this case, McCain was not using his experiences as an example but as justification for his candidacy. He was giving the voter the answer to the most important question on their minds; why? Why should I vote for you? What makes you better or different from the other fellow? I thought McCain's answer to those questions - his decision to dedicate himself to bettering America while being forcibly kept away from her -  was the best response any candidate for president has ever made.

All in all, a better than expected success. It is still an uphill climb for McCain-Palin. But their speeches have altered the dynamics of the race and made it a close contest, one that the Obama campaign will have to use all of their energies and talents to win. No coasting to the White House for the Democrats in this election. If they win, they will know they have been in the fight of their lives and will have earned their victory if it comes to pass.

Attending the Republican National Convention was a wonderful experience, one that I hope each of you have the opportunity to realize some day. I would like to publicly thank Pajamas Media for paying my way and getting me credentials - even though the accommodations for bloggers was not what they could have been.

And I would also like to thank our editor in chief here at American Thinker, Thomas Lifson for granting me time off to fly off to Minnesota. Time and internet access precluded me from posting here as much as I would have liked and Mr. Lifson's generosity in taking over almost all of the posting duties on the blog is much appreciated. 

My impressions of the event are necessarily colored by the fact that you at home probably had a better overall understanding of what went on by watching it on TV. Inside the Xcel Center was like being in a bubble; you could vaguely discern what was going on by talking to people and by taking a few rushed readings of other analysts thoughts via AT and other media sites. For instance, in catching up with my reading this morning, I was amazed at the raging controversy over the firing of the public safety commissioner and how the MSM dug its claws into this story and is trumpeting every tidbit of information - relevant or irrelevant - in order to knock down Palin's candidacy.

Other controversies I received only an echo of their importance. You got the sense that Palin was under siege but I didn't really know why until today. It made her speech even more remarkable in that respect in that she was under such enormous pressure to perform well. Logic would dictate that expectations would have been low due to her inexperience on the national stage. But it turns out - and I didn't know this at the time - that the press, by pushing these controversies, actually raised expectations for her speech to stratospheric levels. The fact that she was able to wildly exceed even the elevated expectations is the most compelling story of the convention and a measure of the woman John McCain chose as his running mate.

That entire night was magical. Perhaps it was because the first two nights - with the exception of Fred Thompson's surprisingly animated and impassioned address - were so pedestrian. In fact, I thought that the convention was rather listless until Wednesday with the party seeming to go through the motions of having such a confab in the first place. 

But all that changed when Mitt, Rudy, and the Huckster served as warm up acts for Palin's turn as starring temptress/hockey mom/pit bull. Giuliani was especially effective as he had the crowd screaming for the blood of the infidel Democrats. Huckabee was funny, warm, and very appealing while skewering Obama. Only Romney's address seemed slightly off putting at times. He came across as a little mean at times but was otherwise an effective advocate.

I can tell you that immediately prior to Palin's speech, the hall was crackling with anticipation. I have felt this same feeling from a crowd prior to the curtain going up at a hit Broadway show and before a big ballgame. The delegates were ready to roar and the noise that rose up from the floor when Palin made her entrance was almost a living thing. The air literally shook and the waves of emotion rolling from one end of the Excel Center floor to the other caused even the most cynical observer (me) to feel for the tiny figure on that huge stage. You were willing her to do well, to smash her detractors and those seeking to undermine her candidacy with a home run of a speech that would shut them up.

And then for 40 minutes the crowd rocked and rolled and laughed and even shed a tear. A few women I noticed were actually crying during parts of the speech - no doubt overcome with the emotion of seeing a woman in her moment of triumph and realizing the historical nature of it. When it was done and McCain came on stage, the roar got even louder - an impossibility but somehow, the 20,000 partisans in attendance managed it easily. 

McCain's speech was hardly a letdown but engendered an entirely different feeling. Perhaps it was the sobering realization of the tough challenges that are facing the country and the party. There was little red meat thrown by McCain in his address - a few elliptical references to Obama's weaknesses. Other than that, McCain sought to do something Obama has never done and apparently cannot do; he tried to give a logical, realistic, and heartfelt justification for people to vote for him.

If you've listened to a lot of John McCain speeches, you probably know that he rarely brings up his captivity. When he does, he uses his experience as a POW as an allegory for some larger point he is trying to make.

I had never heard John McCain talk about his captivity at such length and in such searing detail. You could tell it was difficult for him as he was nearly overcome with emotion a couple of times. But in this case, McCain was not using his experiences as an example but as justification for his candidacy. He was giving the voter the answer to the most important question on their minds; why? Why should I vote for you? What makes you better or different from the other fellow? I thought McCain's answer to those questions - his decision to dedicate himself to bettering America while being forcibly kept away from her -  was the best response any candidate for president has ever made.

All in all, a better than expected success. It is still an uphill climb for McCain-Palin. But their speeches have altered the dynamics of the race and made it a close contest, one that the Obama campaign will have to use all of their energies and talents to win. No coasting to the White House for the Democrats in this election. If they win, they will know they have been in the fight of their lives and will have earned their victory if it comes to pass.