I was actually able to stay fairly calm and even-keeled last night while watching the Republican Convention. Though several of the speakers got me a little riled up in one way or another, on the whole I kept an admirable veneer of calm. That being said, here are some of my thoughts on the first real night of the RNC.
First, Palin (unsurprisingly) is the main topic of conversation among the pundit class. Due to my cable limitations, I was watching the convention on PBS, which I tend to think of as being pretty solid, substantive news. Yet time and again, no matter what was being discussed on stage, Jim Lehrer and his team kept coming back to Palin. My favorite moment came when the convention saw a video and essay reading from a local high schooler about what the flag means to her. With patriotic music, images, and words it was hard not to feel proud to be an American. That ended and we cut back to Jim and the boys in the booth. Lehrer said something along the lines of, "What a moving tribute. [half second pause] Now, to return to Sarah Palin for a moment..." The moment, of course, turned out to be the rest of the night. Whereas the Democrats were surprisingly able to stay on topic during the entire convention, the Republicans seem to have lost some control over their message. Last night was supposed to be all about service, but you wouldn't have known that if you'd only been listening to Jim Lehrer.
Second, this whole thing with Palin's daughter. Frankly, I don't think it's any of my business. I certainly don't think that it says anything about Palin's ability or inability to serve as Vice President. (There's plenty of other evidence on that front.) I totally agree that it should be a private family matter. Again, watching PBS last night I saw McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds urging the matter to be left privately with the family. As he said, let's leave the private family matters private with the family. As soon as that interview was over we cut to the floor of the convention where someone was giving a speech about how great John and Cindy McCain are for adopting a daughter from Bangladesh. Now, wait a minute. I agree that it was a great thing to do, but I don't know if you get to argue that family matters don't/shouldn't affect our political discourse and then have someone give a speech about how great a family man John McCain is and that we should vote for him as a result. You can say family matters or that it doesn't, but you shouldn't get to try to have it both ways.
Last, Lieberman. For the guy who once described George Bush's (and now John McCain's) tax plan as like feeding the birds by giving more hay to the horses (think about it), it was pretty shocking to see him up on stage endorsing a Republican. I guess shocking isn't the right word because everyone has seen this coming for a long time. Maybe disheartening is a better word for it. For me, the highlight of his speech came when he talked directly to the American people (you could tell because he looked right at the camera and said he was going to talk to the American people now) and tried to say that John McCain isn't George Bush without saying that John McCain isn't George Bush because all the people in the convention hall had just cheered for George Bush about 30 minutes earlier. If you didn't already know what he was trying to say, his speech at that point would have been totally incomprehensible. But that's what you get for switching parties, I guess.
Tonight has Rudy and Palin on the agenda, so there should be plenty to talk about tomorrow.