5:43 Central Time: I'm just setting this up so you can get started talking and to let you know that I'll be here -- on what is obviously a very exciting night.
7:48: I'm just settling in for some serious blogging, and the first thing I notice is this open mike eavesdropping on Mike Murphy and Peggy Noonan. Peggy: "The most qualified? No! I think they went for this -- excuse me-- political bullshit about narratives... Every time the Republicans do that, because that's not where they live and it's not what they're good at, they blow it."
8:11: It's Mitt Romney. He's got a peppy, plastic style. It's hammy in a way that might work from farther back in the room. Down with the "eastern elites"! It's time for sun to rise in the west -- in Arizona and Alaska. Now, he's getting an audience chant going: "It's liberal!" "We need change all right. Change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington." Liberals don't understand business. They grow government and dependency. It's "death to initiative." Fight dependency "like the poison it is." "It's time for the party of big ideas, not the party of Big Brother." He does a pretty good job of sharpening up the line between conservatives and liberals and making the conservative side seem better -- especially in economics.
8:28: I'm watching on CNN, with a TiVo assist. I'm keeping up with the speeches. But I pause when a speech ends and then scroll through the commentary when it's time for the next speech. Are the CNN commentators interesting? I don't have time for it all. Let's stop. Here's Jeffrey Toobin saying that bitching about the news media is hypocritical coming from John McCain, because they always used to love him. How come suddenly they seem "hypocritical and biased against him"? Huh? What's hypocritical? That sounds like they were always biased, but they just aren't supporting John McCain right now. What the hell kind of a defense of journalism isn that supposed to be? I mean, I can see why McCain is pissed about it. But it's an embarrassing defense.
8:33: Candy Crowley snags Mitt on the convention floor. She poses a hypothetical. Hey, what if John McCain drops dead on day one, huh? What do you think about that? How is Palin up for it? Mitt responds exactly the way you'd expect: Well, Obama, if elected, would be Prez on day one and how's he going to do it? Yeah, you don't even need a death scenario for that, you know, Candy. Mitt-quote: "The question about experience raises a lot of questions about Barack Obama."
8:36: Now, Mike Huckabee is up. He admits he's disappointed not to be the nominee. But McCain was his second choice, he says. He's got "the character and the stubborn kind of integrity that we need in a President." He thanks the MSM for uniting the Republican Party. Obama "will elevate our taxes and our risk in a dangerous world." He's got a chant he's trying to get going: "You want something to change." But don't forget about the things you don't want to change, like our freedom. He mocks "Barack Obama's Excellent Adventure to Europe." We don't like "European ideas." We like our freedom -- in other words, we don't like big government. This is the anti-dependency message again. It's not what government will do for you, it's what you will do for yourself if government gets out of the way. "The only soap we ever had in my house is Lava." That's a great line. "I'm not a Republican because I grew up rich. I'm a Republican because I didn't want to grow up poor waiting for the government to rescue me." Hey! This is an excellent speech. Much better than Romney's. Nice rhetoric and delivery.
8:46: The digital backdrop -- a flag, I think -- is, on these closeups, just a throbbing red. It's hard on the eyes. They need to blue it up, like normal TV. [ADDED: When Sarah Palin speaks, they just turn if off and have a black background.]
8:51: Huckabee ends with a long, folksy story about a teacher with a lesson to students about how they could "earn their desks." Veterans carrying desks are involved. I respect respecting veterans, but don't really see what's so wonderful about taking little kids and lengthily instructing them about what men have done in far away wars. It's a little too Captain-Koons-Hello-Little-Man for my taste.
8:58: I just corrected a typo in the 8:11 entry. I'd written "It's hammy in a way that might work from father back in the room." My son John emailed me about the typo, and I indicated that maybe it was Freudian, and I really wished I could have Mitt Romney for my dad, and John sends me this pic...
... and reminds me that he always said that Mitt looks like the dad on "The Donna Reed Show."
9:05: It's Rudy Giuliani, and this should be good. He was great at the RNC in '04. (Closeup on Cindy McCain who suddenly has her hair curled. Did the memo go out to soften her up?)
9:07: Rudy is saying that electing a President is basically hiring someone to do a job. He recites McCains résumé. Then we have another man. "He worked as a community organizer." He pauses. Mutters "what?" The audience reacts. Rudy repeats: "He worked as a community organizer." "Maybe this is the first problem on the résumé." And: "He immersed himself in Chicago machine politics." (That's an important line that could take a lot more play.) The audience boos Chicago machine politics. On to the Illinois state legislature where he couldn't figure out whether to vote yes or no. "It was too tough!" "I didn't know about this vote 'present' when I was mayor of New York City." And Sarah Palin couldn't vote "present" as Governor of Alaska. Being able to vote "present" means you weren't in an executive position.
9:17: Barack Obama has never led people in times of crisis. "He is the least experienced candidate for President in at least the last 100 years." He's never led people in anything -- "nada, nothing." Hey, that's unfair! He led the Harvard Law Review.
9:19: And don't forget: He led his campaign for President.
9:23: Rudy says Obama talks about change, but it might be the wrong kind of change. We want the right kind of change. Like, we should drill for oil. The crowd is all: "Drill, baby, drill!"
9:24: The Dems worry that it's politically incorrect to say "Islamic terrorism." They're afraid of insulting terrorists. The big digital screen is used to show a big skyline of NYC.
9:26: The surge was right. McCain got it right and Obama got it wrong. John McCain has taken unpopular positions and political risks. When, Rudy asks, has Obama ever done that? He was for an undivided Jerusalem for one day, only one day, when he was in Israel. The idea is that Obama is a man who played it safe, ingratiating himself in one way after another.
9:31: Palin has had "more executive experience than the entire Democratic ticket combined." He doesn't throw in John McCain and say she's had more executive experience than all 3 of them put together. He mocks the Dems for mocking her for being a mayor of a small town... where they cling to religion and guns. And now she's the most popular Governor in the country with an 80% approval rating. "You never get that in New York City." She fought corruption. She stood up for what is right. She and McCain "are going to shake up Washington." And "how dare they question whether Sarah Palin has enough time to spend with her children and be Vice President. When do they ever ask a man that question? When?!"
9:36: And now! It's her! Sarah Palin! Black skirt. Silver jacket. Oh, when do they ever say that about a man?
9:37: Huge cheers. Cute kid closeup. "Thang-Q. Thang-Q. Thang-Q so much."
9:38: She introduces her family -- her son, who is going to Iraq, her 3 daughters -- the cute youngest waves -- and the baby Trig, the special needs child. And she looks out directly on America, as though she sees all the people who have special children in their families -- and pledges that we will have a friend and advocate in the White House.
9:48: She tells us about Todd, the fisherman, her "guy," and don't forget that Yupik ancestry. She's got a Native American husband.
9:50: She praises small town Americans (like her!). Don't disrespect them! They are the salt of the earth.
9:52: "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer... except that you have actual responsibilities." And in small towns, they don't know what to make of a candidate who "lavishes praise" on them when he's around and then, behind their backs, "talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns." Don't talk about us "one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco." Ouch. John McCain is the same man wherever he goes.
10:00: In power, she fought corruption and government excess. "That luxury jet was over the top. I put it on eBay." "Nearly half a billion dollars in vetoes."
10:11: She's laying into Barack Obama. What is he, once those styrofoam pillars are dragged off the stage? It's all show. And the real plan is the old tax and spend.
10:13: "The American presidency is not supposed to be a journey of personal discovery."
10:19: She retells the story of John McCain, with the emphasis on character and authenticity. Elect "a great man" as the next President, she implores... to fabulous applause. We see the newly-curly-headed Cindy in the audience. She's pumped. The Palin family files out onto the stage. Trig is awakened. No baby would understand what the hell is going on, but he's gazing around at the lights and colors. The pregnant Bristol is there with her hunky hockey boyfriend. And now McCain trundles out. He raises his arms as high as he can to wave to the crowd. His tie is the color of the pantsuit Hillary wore for the DNC. [ADDED: He's sending the secret tie signal.] "Don't you think we made the right choice for the next Vice President of the United States? And what a beautiful family." He leans over to respond to something the little girl said. He shrugs. I guess he didn't know whatever it was that she didn't know.
10:32: Maybe it was: "Are you the next President?"