Saturday, August 30, 2008

Thoughts on the Republican National Convention

The Republican National Convention has a thorny issue on its hands. While Republicans get ready to celebrate the nomination of a new Veep and Presidential candidate, the gulf coast of the nation is staring down a very powerful hurricane. While the weather in St. Paul will be beautiful this week, it will be very much imprudent to be celebrating a national event like a convention while a sizable portion of the nation is in the throes of a national disaster.

Logistically, the Republican party has little choice but to go forward with the convention, unfortunately. With all of the planning and reservations that go into a huge event like this, it is just not possible to put it on pause and say, "come back next week, everyone." Not only will key venues not be available, hotel rooms would be impossible to come by, and many attendees may not be able to get the time off/travel accommodations to come back at another time.

So if it is a given that a time sensitive event like a convention cannot be postponed, you can fully expect that Democrats and the media will be heavily critical of the Republicans for soldiering on. If the criticism is going to come, then it is up to the leadership of the party to manage the event in such a way as to mute that criticism. If they do not make wholesale changes to the event, they risk sinking the McCain-Palin campaign before it even begins.

The modern convention is part party & celebration, part PR event to launch a campaign with as much excitement as possible. To throw a modern convention next week will display the complete tone-deafness of the party's leadership. Therefore, the only choice is dial back the convention. It must be about the business of the nomination, and it must be done so in rather stoic manner. Parties must be tamped down. Speech schedules should be cut back. The media profile of the event must be reduced. In essence, the event must be about business, not about celebrating.

If the Republican leadership goes ahead with this event as planned while a category 4 or 5 hurricane is blasting into the gulf coast, the election may be lost before it even begins. If the leadership adjusts plans and creates a respectful, happy, yet somber event that is focused on the business of the nation right now, then they may just be able to throw some dirt on the party's Katrina reputation. It won't be easy, but in this situation, expediency is a losing approach.

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