The Politics Junkie: Republicans Make Peace, Talk War

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The papers all lead Wednesday with shades of John McCain. In NYT he falls to the subhed, below "For GOP, a Night to Bolster Bush," but the story is quick to make John McCain's rebellion-free speech the most important bolstering. But they also call him "subdued." WP ("Heartily Endorses") and USAT ("Salutes") both headline McCain. WSJ continues its two-steps-away convention coverage with a contrarian history piece about how the GOP loves its military night, but remember — this is the first ticket in forever without a veteran on it. Bush and Cheney, the deferment boys — that's not a nice ring.

Quoth the Times: "Thoughout the evening, a cavalcade of military heroes — from Mr. McCain to Bob Dole to Gen. J. Norman Schwarzkopf to Senator Chuck Hagel — offered testimonials to Mr. Bush, who did not serve in Vietnam... The intention was to assure the national viewing audience that Mr. Bush could be trusted both as a commander in chief and someone who can provide a steady hand in foreign policy despite his lack of experience in the field." Yet on a night that felt a little like a restoration to some, NYT buries the presence of Ford-Reagan-Bush and their highlight film well below Condie Rice.

Gerald Ford, by the way, is out of the hospital and OK, says everybody's AP story. That's one nasty sinus infection.

David Broder on Tuesday afternoon was seen tugging his nose and writing busily, and it's a decent bet he'd already started WP's lede effort, especially with embargoed copies of McCain's speech floating around since morning. But the wizard gets big elegance points for rounding up Tuesday in Philadelphia by the end of the second paragraph. Savor those transitions....

"As Republicans prepared a boisterous welcome for Bush on Wednesday, they heard emotional tributes to his father and other former Republican presidents and patriotic pledges that national security and American idealism will be enhanced by the election of Bush and his running mate, former defense secretary Richard B. Cheney. Delegates who had spent a sweltering summer day dodging more aggressive demonstrators on their way to parties throughout the city flocked gratefully to the chilly First Union Center for a second evening of music and oratory."

And he doesn't spare the analysis: "But it was the McCain speech that carried the greatest political significance. The Arizona senator has a higher approval rating in the polls than either Bush or Gore and is especially favored by independents and ticket-splitters, whose votes may well decide the election."

But enough about David Broder, and enough about the McCain-Bush equation, which is the number two in both NYT and WP sections. Both chuckle at how hard fealty comes to McCain. USAT off-leads with a avenge-your-father piece. WSJ discusses the absence of Dad's pledge-busting budgeteer, Dick Darman, in Son's inner circle, and the inclusion of Stephen Goldsmith, who's a privatization zealot from Indianapolis. "The most important guy you have never heard of at this convention... worth talking to this week." So that's what WSJ is doing with that huge press area.

Paper In the News

The Philly Inquirer leads with "High-Powered Troops Rally Around Bush" but since the politics of protests are local, "Widespread Clashes Disrupt Center City" goes top left with a big pic. Luckily for the GOP, protesters pretty much fall to third in all the biggies but WSJ (which ignores them), with the NYT allowing that cops "gingerly arrested" 280-odd members of the traveling band of gripers. WP is a little more dramatic, getting right to "three police officers were treated when an unknown substance was splashed in their eyes, and a fourth was hospitalized with head injuries after being hit with a bicycle. Twenty police cars were damaged."

If that's as high as the protesters float, the Republicans have to be pleased with how this thing is going. But the nail-biting isn't over — the convention narrative begins to taper again on Cheney night Wednesday, coming to a point on Thursday. With McCain gone, the excitement vacuum will be nearly complete, and you know how nature feels about those.

Best Lede

"There are 15,000 reporters here for the Republican National Convention. Tom DeLay's goal is to avoid them all." —Dana Milbank, WP (who else?)

Most Poignant Headline (for Republicans)

"Few Watched, and Not For Very Long" —NYT, on Monday's convention Nielsens

Political Real Estate Section

"We are obliged to seize this moment to build a safer, freer and more prosperous world, completely free of the tyranny that made the last century such a violent age." (USAT) —John McCain, in speech Tuesday night

"I thought it sounded like the convention theme was 'It Takes a Village.'" (NYT) —Hillary Clinton, on Monday night's GOP theme, "Opportunity With a Purpose: Leave No Child Behind."

"It takes a village to provide parks. It takes a village to keep the streets safe. It takes a village to provide teachers and resources necessary to educate our children... It takes a lot of villages to help elect someone to the United States Senate." (NYT) —Clinton, proving that she'll do the plagiarizing around here.

"I'm tempted to get off the reservation." —George Bush, on biting his tongue as Bill Clinton bashes George Jr.

It's been a long night — at 7:30 a.m., when I was on break, Larry King was already in the lobby demanding "just one New York Times" from a scared desk clerk. Time to go to bed.

"... when a journalist turns into a politics junkie he will sooner or later start raving and babbling in print about things that only a person who has Been There can possibly understand." —Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72