When the post-mortems are written on the now diseased McCain campaign and -- more generally-- on the demise of the Reagan Era, the three top contributing factors of death will be listed as Katrina, Sarah, and Gustav.
As I wrote at the time, the ebbing flood waters of New Orleans exactly three years ago were a grim, but rather lyrical symbol of the evaporation of the Reagan Era. All the national mythologies of the previous twenty years were breached and flushed when the 17th Street levee cracked and FEMA fumbled.
Since then, it's been only deepening waters for the conservative movement, and with rather perfect timing, comes the rise of one Barack Obama.
A principle-free John McCain did his best these past months to dredge up all the psycho-political hobgoblins of the past 40 years -- alternately suggesting that Obama was something akin to an uppity, elite, remote and ultimately dangerous, feckless tyro. McCain swaggered onto the stage, redolent of jock straps, locker rooms and jet fuel exhaust, reassuring us that in such troubled times only his dead-serious maturity and stability could see us sternly through the storm.
Just when he was on the brink of successfully selling that story, he was unfortunately overcome by his inner frivolity and he chose a laughable and affable nobody zealot from a three stop-light town to be his running mate. I think it was all pretty much over last Friday.
But now, to finish things off , come the vengeful ghosts of Katrina -- in the form of Hurricane Gustav-- madly howling right onto center stage at the St.Paul RNC. If the political campaigns refused to come to New Orleans -- as many had insisted -- than it seemed somewhat cosmically inevitable that New Orleans would come to the campaigns. Here she is.
Always the opportunist, McCain and what's-her-name from Alaska immediately flew to Mississippi for the usual sort of photo-op. As if McCain's presence on the Gulf is going to save even one life. But there's simply no way to positively spin this for the woeful Republicans -- except that some strategists' quiet prayers have been answered by diverting Bush and Cheney away from the convention stage.
That ain't enough, though. Whatever happens in New Orleans in the next 48 hours -- and let's hope it's as little as possible-- the cable news split screen coverage will be a 'round the clock reminder of the total and unmitigated failure of the entire Republican approach to non-government. Alas, this election should be about the Big Things, not what kind of Moose Pie or what kind of shotgun Miss Congeniality prefers.
This is about our future. About everything from the use of American military power to providing health care to rebuilding our national infrastructure. Ultimately, it's about the quality of the leadership we generate and choose.
Gustav has blown what was left of the Republican Revolution right off the Monday night tube and, most likely, right into the deep, dark sea.
See complete version at marccooper.com