A Slow, Shaky Start for the GOP

  • Share
  • Read Later
Eric Miller / Reuters; UPI Photo / Landov

From left: Demonstrators march during a rally to the 2008 Republican National Convention on Sept. 1; First Lady Laura Bush addresses conventioneers at the 2008 Republican National Convention on Sept. 1

It's time to wrap up Day One of the Republican convention, where delegates of the Grand Old Party have gathered to nominate John McCain as their presidential candidate. So that means it must be time to play good news, bad news.

Good news! The weather was beautiful in the Twin Cities, with plenty of sunshine and gentle breezes caressing this lake-speckled summertime paradise.

Bad news! The weather was terrible at the other end of the Mississippi River, as Hurricane Gustav swept over poor, storm-battered New Orleans, threatening thousands of Gulf Coast residents still dazed by the aftermath of Katrina.

Good news! The hurricane wasn't as bad as feared — just bad enough to keep President Bush and Vice President Cheney busy, too busy to come to St. Paul. Delegates here might call that bad news, because most of them still like Bush and Cheney, but elsewhere in America, the public tends to disagree. With Gustav looming, the GOP scrubbed the first day of their convention, leaving only the most basic items of business required in the by-laws. Like magic, Bush-Cheney vanished from the convention without controversy.

It's stuff like this that makes Republican leaders think God is on their side.

Bad news! Without headline speakers, the media here had little to talk about except the Arctic answer to All My Children — McCain's running mate, Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska. In today's episode, the campaign announced that Palin's 17-year-old daughter Bristol is pregnant. If elected, Palin will be the first Vice President in memory to take the oath of office with a child and a grandchild in diapers.

Good news! The Christian conservative base of the GOP rallied to Palin's support, proud of the family's commitment to pro-life principles.

Bad news! Other Republican leaders were completely shocked by the Palin revelation. "Jaw-dropping and off-message," said one, adding hopefully, "but not fatal."

Good news! McCain's campaign reassured supporters that the candidate knew everything about Palin in advance of his surprise decision to add her to the ticket. Just in case, though, according to ABC and NBC News, Republicans are sending a team of lawyers to Alaska to get a handle on Palin outbreaks.

Bad news! A small group of self-proclaimed anarchists, calling themselves Funk the War, peeled away from a peaceful protest on the streets of St. Paul and erupted into violence. They pounded cars, smashed windows, hurled bottles and pushed a flaming garbage bin into a police car. Police in riot gear broke up the melee with tear gas and arrested as many as 100 people.

Good news! First Lady Laura Bush and McCain's wife Cindy closed the truncated program with an appeal for donations to aid storm victims on the Gulf Coast. "This is a time when we take off our Republican hats and put on our American hats," Cindy McCain said to a burst of applause.

Tuesday the convention should begin to get back to normal. As this tumultuous election year rolls on, voters can decide for themselves what sort of news that is.