10/05/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

RNC Day Four: Aced Speech, But Not Much Has Changed

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

6:19 pm CDT - To feel fully American, you have to bowl now and then. I do an annual pilgrimage to the Blueberry Bowl in Deer River, Minnesota. It's 10 miles from Deer lake, 16.7 miles from Grand Rapids, and 102 miles from the Canadian border.

This afternoon the place was empty as a tomb when I stepped in with a small contingent of friends. We bowled abysmally (low score 27) for two games a piece and then paid $40 for all eight games, four pairs of shoes, and two pitchers of beer. On our way out of the desolate dirt parking lot (it is, after all, Thursday afternoon) we drove by two elastic and nylon ringed sand volleyball courts, which were utterly out of place in this part of the country. This is not beach volleyball territory.

The struggle of Republican vs. Democrat and liberal vs. conservative has become a largely demographic struggle between the urban and the rural. As a vehement city dweller, I have to regularly remind myself of the value of America's towns, farms, and ominous back-woods compounds. My friends here are all either moderate Republicans or fightin' right wingers. They are decent people who sincerely disagree with virtually every basic position I hold dear.

10:16 pm CDT

Can one be a just ruler of a flawed state? Is it possible for the good intentions of leadership to overcome the petty corruptions and basic meanness of an organization gone bad from years of the daily tooth-and-nail power grab? If Ghandi ran the Nazi party, could he turn it from its stated goals?

Of course, the Republican party is not the Nazi party. I consider myself to be among its biggest detractors and I have to admit it's a far cry better. Then again, McCain isn't Ghandi.

McCain spent the early part of his speech this evening appealing to the best in himself and his party. The hateful kooks took a background position and McCain came out swinging as the maulin' moderate we've known and, well, not quite loved, during the darkest periods of the Bush administration. That may well be the real McCain. He sure as hell seemed genuine and it's hard to trash a guy who claims that he came to love his country and be saved by its ideals during his captivity in Hanoi.

On the other hand, McCain's essential policies aren't any different than they were yesterday. The fact that he tells us that we need to come together to serve this country doesn't change the fact that his campaign, his party, and his surrogates have trashed Obama in trashy, false terms.

McCain is a far cry better than those recent Republican nominees who have preceded him and I genuinely think he's a pretty decent person, but the people he would bring into office with him would be the Republican faithful - the same cretins who have run the country for the past eight years.

After watching the best face that both parties can put on these past two weeks, it becomes clear again that about half of our country - the urbanites, liberals, and pansies - will vote for whoever is on the Democratic ticket and the other half - farm folk, nutjobs with guns, and right-wingers - will vote for the Republican ticket. Then the remaining ten percent will vote essentially based on whoever can deliver a better monologue on a better designed set. It's the world's highest-pressure live audition. With this election process, who could be surprised that American Idol is so popular?

So McCain aced his big night. Even Simon would have approved. Paula would have been beside herself. And yet, I am left with the conclusion that decent person though he may be, he still disagrees with basically every value I hold dear.

On with the show, I guess.