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The Moose Bull Party of St. Paul

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So Sarah Palin can wrestle a moose and since Alaska is so close to Russia she has foreign policy gravitas -- that qualifies as "experience" according to McCain surrogates and, notably, Fred Thompson who went on to camouflage the GOP's record of domestic and global failure by wrapping his remarks around a riveting portrayal of John McCain's courageous and painful years as a POW. And so the red (elk) meat was tossed from the podium into the laps of voracious delegates with reckless abandon to satiate their hunger for deliverance from the drag that the Bush-Cheney record is having on their party's political prospects.

The more I listened to Tuesday's speeches, the more it sounded as if long-suffering Republicans were drinking their own Kool-Aid by the barrel. With reckless abandon, both Thompson and Lieberman (aided and abetted by Bush and the First Lady) made every rhetorical effort to shake down the audience both in and out of Xcel Stadium -- tossing reality and facts to the four winds. "We will balance the budget!" "We will restore integrity in Washington!" "We have brought freedom to 50 million Iraqis and Afghanis!" If there ever was a Moose Bull Party -- welcome to St. Paul and thank you John McCain and Sarah Palin for turning Teddy Roosevelt over in his resting place.

Fortunately, no matter how much they tried to steal the moniker of "change" it is extraordinarily hard to sell four more years of the same ol Bush policies. And yet the word "change" kept falling from the lips of speaker after speaker in a concerted effort to hide the unbalanced experience of the presumptive Republican ticket.

And try as he might to sound like some revered bi-partisan statesman in unfamiliar territory, Joe Lieberman sunk with a thud as he went out of his way to annoy any self-respecting Independent or Democrat watching by extolling the qualifications of a callow vice presidential candidate whom he has never met and who has a record diametrically opposite to anything Lieberman believes in. Lieberman unappealingly then went on to castigate Obama via a demeaning rhetorical pat on the head by asserting that maybe in the future Obama would amount to something.

But the issue is not really Lieberman or Thompson, or even the questionable record of Sarah Palin. The issue is and must remain McCain, and a laser-like focus on McCain's weaknesses is essential. The danger Democrats face is enabling McCain in Houdini-like dexterity to unshackle himself from his support of Bush's record, and not consistently challenging McCain's efforts to steal the message of "trust" and "change," which is what tonight's convention narrative was intended to accomplish.

Denver was a huge success for Democrats. Sen. Obama's speech secured the political beachhead that the campaign needed to establish among hesitant Democrats and Independents. The post convention polls suggest that positive movement. Now, as any good commander knows, it is essential to consolidate that political beachhead. That will require a singular focus by Senators Obama and Biden on the core economic and social messages that were so eloquently extolled in a down to earth, matter of fact manner last Thursday at Invesco Field, accompanied by a well-mustered division of surrogates who will continue to cement McCain to Bush-Cheney. Here is where Hillary Clinton will prove to be so helpful to the ticket -- taking on Gov. Palin, lock, stock and (automatic weapon) barrel.

Despite the Tuesday bluster of the Moose Bull Party, McCain's campaign is clearly on the defensive. His failure to fully vet Sarah Palin is less a reflection on the Alaskan governor, and more a reflection on his carelessness as a quick judge of character. Sounds like McCain stared into her eyes and saw her soul. McCain clearly shares more in common with Bush than just Bush's record.

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