Believe me, covering political conventions is not my idea of a good time. Still, there are moments. I was looking for a place to read my email at the St. Paul Hotel, and went into a long hallway occupied by a row of seats against the walls and a piano. I was sitting there for a few minutes when a man came in and sat down at the piano. He began to play a medley of Bach, Rachmaninoff, and Gershwin on the piano. And he played it very well indeed.
He was Tom Horne, the Arizona Superintendent of Schools, and a delegate to the Republican convention, and he was accompanied by his wife Marty. He told me that he had been a reader of The New Republic since 1961. I asked him how a person who played the piano so well and read The New Republic could be a Republican, and he explained that he had been a Democrat but had changed parties in 1996 to run for the state legislature from Phoenix. In non-Latino parts of Phoenix, it is virtually impossible for Democrats to get elected to the state legislature.
I asked him about the convention, and he said he supported McCain whom he sees as "independent" like himself. He said he thought McCain had chosen Sarah Palin because of her stand against corruption and the "bridge to nowhere." I asked him whether he thought it was a judicious choice. "A judicious choice would be outside of John McCain's sensibility," he says. But he adds, "I am a Republican and I support John McCain, but I think Barack Obama is an intelligent man." I ask him whether that means he wouldn't be devastated if Obama were to win, and he nods, and goes back to playing--and it's "Rhapsody in Blue."
--John B. Judis