USAT is shy, finally springing it on us in the 11th paragraph that "for all the talk in the first three nights of the convention about a positive campaign, he could get down in the dirt if need be." Only straight-arrow USAT would put Cheney's "re-entry" into politics, Ford's stroke he's doing fine and the rolling roll call before the red meat that had the rest of political journalism salivating again. Even WSJ leads with "scolded," though it's neatly in the context of possible "payback" for Gore camp's ongoing attacks on Cheney's record. They tell us again same poll as last time that the attacks aren't working, in case we forgot.
Sidekick stories are all looking at the little Bush's big moment.
Quoth the Times (regal as ever with a "Man in the News" header for W.): "Mr. Bush is almost an accidental candidate, a cocky and cheerful fellow who drifted through much of his life and who was largely unknown in the United States until he assumed his first political office five and a half years ago. Yet he now leads the polls and will have, if elected, one of the thinnest résumés in public service of any president in the last century." And that's pretty much the story right there.
WP is still giving the cocky fellow and his aides a chance to "demonstrate to the American people that he is presidential" in a coronation speech "they have labored on... for months." They make the rounds of Republican bigs Tommy Thompson, Gingrich and "a Republican senator" and work harder than they need to building the suspense.
For USAT, as ever, the analysis is tacit. "38-minute speech is 'ready to go,'" goes the headline, and lets Bush himself get GOP fans worrying with "the first thing I'm going to do is share with Americans how much I love my parents." Well, at least it'll be "what aides say will be the shortest acceptance speech in recent history: 38 minutes, applause included." Um, good luck.
WSJ prefers the "careful" angle "as of Wednesday afternoon, there had been at least 16 revisions" and speaks with characteristic mischief of past disasters: Goldwater, Humphrey, Bush's "no new taxes." Not to mention Mondale's pledge to raise them. "It was an interesting, but in the end not a very successful, ploy. Mr. Mondale lost to President Reagan in the fall." Classic understatement.
"Why am I here? I wanted to observe this thing in action. This is the most spectacular display of cash-register politics in the history of our country." (NYT) Ralph Nader, who, according to the Times, "charged onto the convention floor, plopped himself in front of the Florida delegation and began tearing into the Republican party and George W. Bush" in the middle of the roll call.
"It's important, I know. I should be more interested. But, like, it's well, it's George Bush, right? And he is the Republican nominee for president, and I don't know what else there is to see." Kate Madsen, 33, self-described independent, in Post's tale of abysmal net ratings for the dilly in Philly.
Winning Isn't Everything, It's the Only Thing
USAT asks, whatever happened to the religious right?
"Everybody's so anxious to win, they don't want to have any hassles." former House Republican leader Bob Michel
"It was not so much that they wanted to give the new philosophy a try... What they were willing to do was give the candidate a pass because they saw it as the only route to victory." DLC cheese Al From, remembering Clinton in '92.
"Eight years is a long time." Trent Lott
Energizing the Base
"Bush might as well have nominated Charlton Heston." Desmond Riley, of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, in WSJ's piece on how the gun lobby loves Cheney. (Incidentally, their sketch of Cheney must be about 20 years old. He looks like Conrad Bain.)
Dana Milbank Lede
"Has there ever been a more milquetoast meeting, a more treacly trade show, than this Republican National Convention of 2000?" in A Political Gathering That's Nice and Nasty
Other Best Lede
"There's something weird going on here." -WP's Kevin Merida, in Once Again, Everyone's Eyeing Newt
Least Glamorous Lede
"Rep. Ernest Fletcher (Ky.) was sitting poolside this morning, sunning himself and reading a book on Colin Powell just a stone's throw from the First Union Center, where the Republicans are meeting for their quadrennial convention." WP's Eric Pianin, on congressional accommodations in Philly.
David Broder sums up McCain 2004
Richard Cohen wonders about the colorful new GOP
Bill Safire disses the GOP's "non-political political convention."