Live Blogging the McCain Convention (UPDATE: Katie Halper now co-blogging via the Comments Section!)
By Al Giordano
The gavel will come down at 6:40 p.m. CT (7:40 ET) with speeches from Minnesota politicians (including Senator Norm Coleman, facing a challenge this year from Al Franken), and at some point prior to 9 p.m. CT Laura Bush will introduce an eight minute video message from George W. Bush. (Look for Bush to give nominee John McCain some oxygen distance by cracking jokes about "what a pain in the ass you've been to me all these years, John!" Seriously. I expect something like that, along with the usual "oooh, we live in a scary, scary world" stuff, giving McCain credit for the so-called "surge" and "victory" in Iraq.)
Then at 9 p.m. CT comes old Fred Thompson, and we actually do have some excerpts from his prepared remarks here:
"This is the kind of character that civilizations from the beginning of history have sought in their leaders. Strength. Courage. Humility. Wisdom. Duty. Honor. It's pretty clear there are two questions we will never have to ask ourselves, 'Who is this man?' and 'Can we trust this man with the presidency...?'
"He has been to Iraq eight times since 2003. He went seeking truth, not publicity. When he travels abroad, he prefers quietly speaking to the troops amidst the heat and hardship of their daily lives. And the same character that marked John McCain's military career has also marked his political career. This man, John McCain, is not intimidated by what the polls say or by what is politically safe or popular...
"But while others were talking reform, John McCain led the effort to make reform happen - always pressing, always moving for what he believed was right and necessary to restore the people's faith in their government. Confronting when necessary, reaching across the aisle when possible, John personified why we came to Washington in the first place...
"My role is to help remind you of the man behind the vision. Because tonight our country is calling to all of us to step up, stand up, and put 'Country First' with John McCain. Tonight we are being called upon to do what is right for our country."
And after that will be Senator Joe Lieberman, who will play up McCain as "maverick" against the "special interests" (not including the defense contractors and others that he and Lieberman serve, but, whatever), and who will probably open up the week's first line of attack on Obama (something that Giuliani will sharpen tomorrow night).
Some things to remember while watching:
If you expect the Republicans to totally screw up this prime time TV show, think again. They are experts in stage craft and manipulating public opinion, and so expect some great one-liners and other bells and whistles, as well as a very enthusiastic crowd that is desperate to believe after last week's bludgeon upon them known as the Democratic convention and the Obama speech in Denver.
Also remember that the Democratic convention had 22 million viewers the first night, and 38 million on their last, and we won't know until tomorrow how the Republicans do on the interest-o-meter, but it's very unlikely to exceed that viewership and probably likely to fall short.
In other words, this will be a night for them to rally the true believers.
Join with me in adding commentary when you've got something to say...
Update: Here's the official schedule for tonight's show...
7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Video: "Country First" - Narrator: Robert Duvall
Speaker: Jo Ann Davidson, Co-Chairman of the Republican National
Committee and Chairman of the Republican National Convention's
Committee on Arrangements
Speaker: U.S. Senator Norm Coleman (Minn.)
Pledge of Allegiance: Victoria Blackstone, winner of the Stars
and Stripes Essay Contest
Speaker: Miles McPherson, President of Miles Ahead and Senior Pastor
of the Rock Church
Speaker: Ashley Gunn
Speaker: U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.)
Speaker: Wes Gullett and daughter Nikki
Video Tribute: President Teddy Roosevelt
Music and Entertainment: Rachael Lampa
8 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Speaker: Captain Shanna Hanson, Minneapolis Fire Department
Video Tribute: President Abraham Lincoln
Speaker: Tommy Espinoza, President and CEO of Raza Development Fund, Inc.
Video Tribute: President George H. W. Bush
Speaker: Bill Gross
Speaker: Captain Leslie Smith, U.S. Army (ret.)
Video: Medal of Honor Story: Michael Monsoor, U.S. Navy SEAL
Speaker: The Honorable Orson Swindle, former POW, Lt. Col. U.S. Marine
Corps (ret.) and former Commissioner of the Federal Trade
Speaker: First Lady Laura Bush
Remote Video: President George W. Bush
9 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Video Tribute: President Ronald Reagan
Speaker: Former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson (Tenn.)
Speaker: U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.)
Note that they've put President Bush in the pre-Prime Time ghetto, when the three major networks won't be broadcasting.
Update 7:22 p.m. CT: Jeebus, this is dreadful. Two slideshows so far (one narrated by quadrennial GOP convention celebrity Robert Duvall) that don't even meet basic standards for good YouTube videos. I take back everything I said about them being experts at stage craft! Those were terrible!
Okay, kids. There's only one proper way to live-blog a show this absurd... Ladies and gentlemen, we're calling in the ringer! Katie Halper is now live-blogging with us, via the comments section!
7:44 p.m.: I must have missed it, but according to Wonkette an RNC co-chair from the stage tonight referred to Sarah Palin as Sara Pawlenty! Ha!
7:48 p.m.: Oh gawd, another slide show, this time in black-and-white, about the last Republican president that inspired you: Teddy Roosevelt! (John McCain was only a junior United States senator then, right?)
7:52 p.m.: Thank goodness, Katie has arrived in the comments section. I was dying here all by myself. She noticed the forcep marks on Norm Coleman's head.
Catherine Cain also has a great comment:
With the Republicans the slogan "Country First" should be appropriately changed to "Country First?" ---with the answer being "Yes - Iraq!" ---considering that dollar for dollar they have spent more money there than here.
Do I really need to be missing my regular Tuesday night jazz jam session for this?
8:02 p.m. Oh. My. God. Dick Morris is being interviewed on Fox News, railing against "the sexism in our society," and then he lets this slip: "If McCain has to get rid of Palin, McCain is dead, he won't be the nominee." Oooooh, interesting!
8:23 p.m. Just got a copy of Lieberman's snoozer of a speech. Here's the Obama section:
Senator Obama is a gifted and eloquent young man who can do great things for our country in the years ahead. But eloquence is no substitute for a record -- not in these tough times.
In the Senate he has not reached across party lines to get anything significant done, nor has he been willing to take on powerful interest groups in the Democratic Party.
Contrast that to John McCain's record, or the record of the last Democratic President, Bill Clinton, who stood up to some of those same Democratic interest groups and worked with Republicans to get important things done like welfare reform, free trade agreements, and a balanced budget. Governor Sarah Palin, like John McCain, is a reformer who has taken on the special interests and reached across party lines. She is a leader we can count on to help John shake up Washington.
That's why the McCain-Palin ticket is the real ticket for change this year.
The Washington bureaucrats and power brokers can't build a pen strong enough to hold these two mavericks...
9:08 p.m. Now they're showing the Reagan memorial video (at least it's not a slide show, and most of it's in color!). "Interest rates went down... the economy was great... unlike under you-know-who." And here comes grandpa Fred...
9:10 p.m. Those of you who know me should not be drinking any liquid when I say this: This convention even makes me miss the Clinton segments of the Democratic one!
9:14 p.m.: Grandpa says, Palin "is the only candidate that knows how to dress a field moose." I was wondering who would do McCain's tie for him on the road. Fred could have added, "and check his pulse each day while doing it!"
9:34 p.m. The dog really did eat my homework! I'm here at the jazz club (where they let me smoke) and there was just a power outage for most of Grandpa's speech! There is a kind and charitable god. But she's Old Testament, apparently, as the power just went back on right before Lieberman. Oy.
9:38 p.m.: Johnny B. Goode? "He come from Louisiana close to New Orleans?" Doesn't Chuck Berry have lawyers? Field Hands in St. Louis, head down to his club and raise hell over this! That's almost like flag desecration, the way such an American symbol is being defaced.
9:45 p.m.: This is star power. Not since the Muppet Show have I gotten to see Statler and Waldorf on the same stage on the same night. And what's with that sky blue background? It's worse than the lime jello green from June 3. Can't wait 'til Kermit shows up. Oh, wait, he played Jim Leach at the Democratic convention.
9:50 p.m.: Oh, wait. Now I get it. That sky blue backdrop means that Joe is addressing us from heaven! Or is it Alaska? "My fellow Americans, I died and went to the Republican party!"
9:51 p.m.: Like Francisco Franco, Joe Lieberman is still dead.
9:54 p.m.: Still dead. Just keeping you updated, folks.
9:55 p.m.: "They never told me that to get to heaven I had to lose my committee chairmanships."
10:02 p.m.: Joe Lieberman is still dead. The end.
See you tomorrow, Field Hands, when they raise Rudy from his crypt to suck all of our bloods. In the meantime, keep commenting. I have to go do some jazz to wash all this filth off me, will read all your comments in the morning. Katie is chaperoning. Which means anything goes. Ciao!
Oh, and Joe Lieberman = still dead. The End. Really this time.