A Good Night For the Good Guys

The GOP convention got underway tonight, a day late, but it was worth waiting for. The highlights were the speeches by Fred Thompson and Joe Lieberman that concluded the evening. In boxing terms, the speeches were a straight right followed by a left hook.

During his ill-fated Presidential campaign, Thompson showed flashes where it seemed that he could be the next great articulator of conservative ideas, but they were too few and far between, and it was never clear that Thompson had his heart in it. Tonight, speaking for John McCain rather than himself seemed to liberate Thompson to use his skills to best effect. He told McCain’s story the way that McCain won’t tell it himself: his early days as a rebel, his almost unimaginable heroism as a POW, and his principled career in Washington. Thompson hit Obama a couple of times, but very much above the belt. Watching Thompson tonight prompted the thought that his best role may be as Boswell to McCain’s Johnson.

Thompson got the crowd going, and it was fun to see what had been a telethon for hurricane victims that never materialized turn into a real political convention. But Joe Lieberman’s speech may have been even more effective.

I was a little puzzled as to why Lieberman had been scheduled to finish the evening. Thompson’s speech, while not a stemwinder in the traditional sense, seemed like the more rousing note on which to conclude. But Lieberman’s speech turned out to be a masterpiece of persuasion that undoubtedly influenced the campaign. The only question is how many people were watching.

What was striking about Lieberman’s speech was its simplicity. Lieberman, a very smart guy, didn’t give a talk that sounded like it was intended for the Council on Foreign Relations. He spoke directly through the television cameras to the Democrats and independents watching the broadcast in their living rooms. He talked to his target audience in words that were extraordinarily simple, clear and direct. In his low-key, uniquely non-threatening way, Lieberman articulated a deceptively powerful–irrefutable, really–rationale for the candidacy of John McCain. He mentioned Obama only briefly, and without animus, but his observations about the “gifted and eloquent young man” who “has not reached across party lines to get anything significant done” were quietly devastating.

So it was a very good night. When the convention was finished, we headed to James Lileks’ house in south Minneapolis–right around the corner from where we once lived–for the Pajamas TV/lileks.com/Power Line party. It was a lot of fun.

The PJTV party featured music by Jude and John Ondrasik of Five For Fighting. The music was sensational and it was a great opportunity to meet up with old friends like Hugh Hewitt, shown here with my wife:

And new friends like Stephen Green, the VodkaPundit, shown here with a glass of what appears to be vodka:

So it was a fun night as well as a politically successful one. We’ll be back tomorrow to cover Sarah Palin’s speech to the GOP convention.

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