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Dan Sweeney

Dan Sweeney

Posted: September 5, 2008 12:21 AM

The Conventions Are Over: Now What?


McCain just finished a speech that, looked at outside the emotional immediacy of the moment, was utterly forgettable. He came off vaguely creepy, like an old uncle you tell the kids not to talk to too much, that leery, disturbing smile on display in full force. His biggest applause line came when he uttered the words "Sarah Palin."

The big takeaway of the convention was Gov. Palin, and the speech last night was, from a conservative, Republican point of view, outstanding. She's now two-for-two in national speeches, but neither of them will halt the constant flow of sludge trickling down from the mountains of Alaska. The Washington Post published some fairly damning e-mails in Palin's Troopergate scandal today, and there is still huge swaths of fertile ground to cover. Few voters still know Palin's views on religious and reproductive-rights issues, and there will be few of disaffected Hillary voters ready to hop on that train once all the dirty laundry gets strung up.

McCain did his best to separate himself from Bush tonight, but he failed. He tried to talk about Republicans swept up in corruption, but he offered no policy difference between him and Bush. And, really, while corruption is a serious problem for the GOP today, their actual views on real issues have become just as disturbing. The hoary theory of trickle-down economics, the massive tax breaks for corporations while putting the screw to the working class -- a theory that seemed such a good idea back in the 80s, for reasons that have never been properly explaiend to me -- looks more and more like the greedheaded pyramid scheme it is.

Since Reagan first started this raiding of the U.S. treasury, the only real question has been, "How long can the lower and middle classes carry this crap on their backs before they dismiss wedge issues and start voting with their pocketbooks?" Thus far, the answer seems to be, about 30 years, give or take a couple.

The next two months will see, at first, a predictable a McCain bounce from the convention. Then a mellowing out of that bounce; after a couple weeks, the numbers will look like they did preconvention in the national tracking polls, with a slight, but statistically significant, Obama lead. And the lead gained in the most recent state polls -- Obama now leads by double digits in Iowa and Minnesota, in the latter case possibly because many Minnesotan voters got an upclose, personal view at a Republican-style police state -- will be near-impossible for McCain to overcome.

All told, the conventions have meant exactly what they have since the 1970s; to paraphrase the Bard, they are tales told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. I expect Palin's buzz to fizzle out as quickly as her scandals grow. I expect McCain to look even more creepy and fatigued as the months go on. And with Obama's would-be scandals all gathering dust in the faded battles of the primary, this is very much the Democrats' battle to lose.

As the convention wrapped up and Chris Matthews and his ilk blathered about what it all meant, a crowd outside the convention hall chanted "Obama! Obama! Obama!" in the background, a doom omen of things to come.