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.  
 

I guess the Democrats can't count on Sarah Palin to torpedo McCain's candidacy. If there is a danger, it is that her speech will overshadow his. After the really dreary and depressing session of yesterday, tonight was very successful, with two good speeches--the other by Giuliani. And I think they made the case that the Republican faithful wanted to hear, and they beat up on Obama in ways that will resonate with the GOP.

But what I think this convention is really trying to do is to change the subject. Most Americans, it's clear, think this election is about the economy. In all the many speeches of this week in St. Paul, virtually none of them have had much to say about the really serious economic problems that are affecting the very Americans that the GOP has tried to enlist--middle class and lower middle class families. Instead, they are falling back on old favorites--the mess in Washington (and who has made that over the last eight years?), the political establishment (likewise), and of course the reliable whipping boy--the liberal media. This convention did not, I think, set up McCain to reach out to the independents and moderates he will need to get elected. Instead, he seems on course to try to turn out the right-wing evangelical vote in the way Bush did in 2004. But he will have a much harder time bringing out the vast number of evangelicals that Bush attracted. It will be very interesting tomorrow night to see whether McCain's speech veers away at all from the reliably conservative message of the first few days of the convention and returns to the more centrist image he was trying to project over the summer.
 

Related: More from TNR on Sarah Palin's Big Convention Speech