The Morning After: McCain's Still Alive 

ST. PAUL -- As most delegates, alternates, and media had figured it in advance, the acceptance address on Thursday night by new Republican presidential nominee John McCain was not only pro forma, but anti-climactic. The pivotal speech was that of vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin on Wednesday night.

On the success or failure of Alaska governor Palin, McCain's first decision and an unknown quantity, perhaps even to him , rested the GOP candidate's chances. In that sense, what she did was considered to be the true counterpart to Barack Obama's showcase speech at Invesco Field a week ago.

Palin delivered, in spades, and so McCain had only to go out on stage and read from the script on the teleprompter, one which focused, as all previous speakers, including his wife Cindy, did, on the heroic saga of his military service in Vietnam. That, and the candidate's status as a political "maverick."When it came time for McCain to speak, he, too, made mention of his P.O.W. ordeal, adding only that at one time, after repeated tortures by his captors, "I broke."

The warmth with which delegates greeted this admission was equivalent to the forgive-all reaction to disclosures of irregularities in the private life of Palin's immediate family. Indeed, in both cases, it appeared to create a bond.

Republicans had gathered in Minneapolis-St. Paul under something of a cloud. Obama had just delivered his blockbuster speech of acceptance in Denver, Palin was an unknown quantity and was taking shots from the media, and the presumption was, even among most of the delegates, that the way forward for the GOP ticket was hazardous at best.

Feeling in the immediate aftermath of the convention was different. Especially since Obama had gotten no great bump in the polls from his own convention, Republicans leaving Minnesota seem optimistic that they're at the very least competitive. Many feel that the weekend polls will give the ticket at least a slight lead.

We shall see what we shall see. In any case, the conventions have come and gone, Labor Day is over, and the campaign proper now begins.

--Jackson Baker


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