Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hey, maybe Bush can use one of those "Free Speech Zones" two miles away from the convention site?

It's an awkward situation for the Republicans: They're going to have to use every trick in the book, as it is, to keep morale up for the GOP national convention, at which the angry and disoriented media favorite John McCain will don the mantle of nomination because there was no one else.

Unfortunately for the convention planners, they've got this little extra problem: What to do with Mr. Twenty-Eight Percent? How do they keep Bush--who still sees no reason why he shouldn't still be worshiped and adored--from becoming the ultimate buzzkill at a convention that's already shaping up to be like a gathering of 5,000 Christian Scientists with appendicitis?

Well, for starters, they can make sure that Bush and McCain are never photographed together at the convention, are in fact never even seen breathing the same air:

First is the question of how to give President Bush a forum as the party's two-time nominee but at the same time keep McCain at a distance from the unpopular incumbent. The answer, according to McCain aides, will be to have Bush give a speech on the first night of the convention—a Monday—and let him have the moment to himself. McCain isn't scheduled to arrive in Minneapolis-St. Paul, the convention site, until Tuesday at the earliest, after Bush leaves, which means that, at this point, the two men won't be seen with each other that week.

Okay: Avoiding Bush like the plague--check. That may help convention planners gain a little more control over the way the convention is spun in the press.

But they might still receive some extra media attention, although it's hardly the kind they're hoping for:

Conservative activists are preparing to do battle with allies of Sen. John McCain in advance of September's Republican National Convention, hoping to prevent his views on global warming, immigration, stem cell research and campaign finance from becoming enshrined in the party's official declaration of principles.

Ah yes. Republicans spent the spring fantasizing about a replay of the Democratic convention of 1968. But this September they may well end up re-running the Republican convention of 1992, when the price of heading off the insurgency of Pat Buchanan's "culture war" campaign was to give him time on the podium during the convention--and we all remember how that turned out. (Molly Ivins later remarked, "Many people did not care for Pat Buchanan's speech; it probably sounded better in the original German.")

Can you imagine the two nights between Bush's speech to the convention and McCain's acceptance speech being filled with fire-breathers from the GOP's base of global warming-deniers, immigrant-bashers, and champions of equal rights for blastocysts, to buy their support for the following eight weeks?

It could be a ratings dream come true for the networks, even if it's a GOP nightmare.

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