Alan Brinkley--who is the provost and a professor of history at Columbia University, as well as a National Book Award-winning author--will be writing for us throughout the Republican convention.
After tonight's festivities--which, Thompson's speech excepted, were pretty dreary--the real puzzle of this convention to me is what McCain's strategy is at this critical juncture of his campaign. During the primaries, he pandered to the far right at every opportunity. Then, after clinching the nomination, he began moving back toward the center--criticizing more and more of the Bush administration's policies, embracing the fight against global warming almost to the point of sounding like Al Gore, and on almost every issue but the Iraq war, sounding less and less like a Bush Republican and more and more like the maverick he would like us to think he is. And yet, he has just chosen an unknown running mate with right-wing views that put almost anyone in the Bush administration to shame--support for creationism in schools, rejection of the idea that human action contributes to global warming, no abortion even for victims of rape and incest, support for Pat Buchanan in 2000. Has McCain given up on the centrist voters that he claimed he needed to win? Is he reverting to Bush's 2004 strategy of mobilizing the troops of the far right? Conventions are not usually the moment for a major shift in strategy, but it is a real question as to what McCain's strategy is, or can be, after this choice--which takes away much of his inexperience argument and pushes him much further to the right than he seemed to want to be. Did he actually know how right-wing Palin was when he chose her?