The “Life Happens” Republicans

Since watching the Democratic Convention in 1960, I’ve dreamed of attending a national convention, and for years now that dream has focused on the Republican one. Now, I’ve finally made it to a Republican convention. At least I think I have.

The doubt arises from some of the things I heard at the convention hall yesterday. For example, I always thought Republicans tended to disapprove of “affirmative action” selections. Yet nearly everyone here remains ecstatic about the selection of a vice presidential nominee who, given her credentials, would not (in my opinion) have rated ten minutes of consideration but for her gender.

Many people here say they are looking forward to Palin’s debate with Talkin’ Joe Biden. They say that expectations will be low and there’s a good chance that Biden will come off as a bully. There was a time when Republicans would have been less delighted to be the party of low expectations, relying on a sympathy backlash.

Some Republicans were also talking about Bristol Palin’s pregnancy as though it were a potential political plus. “Doubling down” on the affirmation of life was one phrase that was tossed around. Some thought (or pretended to) that the pregnancy would enhance the ticket’s popularity with the large number of Americans who have become pregnant as unwed teenagers or who have familiy members who have. And once again there was mention of a sympathy backlash.

The catch-phrase of the day seemed to be “life happens.” And indeed it does. But Republicans used to believe that the choices we make usually go a long way towards shaping the manner in which life happens, and that therefore indifference is not a fully appropriate response to bad choices.

The party has changed. It has become either less or more mature.

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