What a difference a week makes — a look back at the convention

Like everyone else who follows politics closely, I’m eagerly awaiting the polls that will help tell us where the race stands, now that both parties have held their conventions. But even without polling data, I think we can say that the Republican convention exceeded all reasonable expectations.

A week ago, we were wondering whether there would even be a convention in any traditional sense. In the end, we got three days. And because they were put to such good use, this amount of time was easily enough.

The first real day was about John McCain. Fred Thompson did the bio; Joe Lieberman did the “maverick,” post-partisan pitch to independents and other swing voters. Both were quite effective.

The second day proved to be the most important. It was designed to achieve two critical purposes: deflate Obama and introduce Palin. The team of Giuliani and, of course, Palin herself completed both tasks masterfully.

On the final day, it was back to McCain. The nominee effectively synthesized the bio and the post-partisan pitch, and topped it off with a memorable finish.

Last Friday, many of us were wondering about the wisdom, and maybe even the viability, of McCain’s selection for running mate. That day, after recovering from the initial surprise, I wrote:

McCain apparently was trying for two-fer: someone who can energize the base but who also has cross-over appeal — not to hard core Hillary supporters, but to moderate voters, especially females. There were few, if any, other prospective nominees who offered this sort of possibility.

A week later, the phrase “energizing the base” hardly does justice to Palin’s impact on conservatives. And by pleasing conservatives to this degree, McCain was able to push his post-partisan theme without dampening the festivities.

Palin’s cross-over appeal is less certain, but the evidence is that independents and swing-voters are intrigued by the pick and are more likely as a result of it to give the ticket serious consideration.

As things stand today, then, the Palin pick looks like a clear political plus. And, in significant part because of that pick, so does the convention.

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