Call me Ishmael.
I've been a McCain supporter since the 2000 GOP presidential primaries. Then, I was at odds with my Republican friends who favored the more traditional George W. My argument at the time was that McCain was the most qualified of the candidates (including Al Gore).
Two terms and a bungled Middle East excursion later, nothing has dissuaded me from that original opinion.
Even though he's now almost a decade older, I'm still on the McCain bandwagon. And, for what it's worth, anyone who claims that Bush and McCain are the same guy hasn't been paying close enough attention to the Senator's career.
That said, no matter how you slice it, this is a Democratic year. Iraq and economic doldrums stand to hurt the GOP badly. Hurricane Gustav approaching New Orleans on the eve of the RNC raises the specter of Katrina and suggests that even the gods want an Obama presidency.
So, going into Minnesota, I was reminded of Mad Men's Don Draper who, seconds before the start of a major sales pitch to a client that clearly wasn't going to buy, quipped to his assistants "We're about to deliver a still-born."
Adding to my dismay, McCain announced that Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin, will be his running mate. My gut reaction was what the hell is he thinking? Is she ready for prime time? Is this a "Harriett Quayle" pick who'll be one heartbeat away from the presidency?
I wanted Romney. He's got strong economic bona fides and could help McCain steal important states like Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
On the other hand, the Palin pick has seemed to truly energize what was a generally listless Conservative base who had consigned themselves to a November massacre.
A hardcore Republican friend of mine (he was a GOP Electoral College voter in 1980) sent me an email that mirrors much of what the Conservative talking heads were saying all Friday morning.
In a nutshell, he maintains that: a) The Obama team cannot really, with a straight face, accuse anyone of being too young and inexperienced; b) Palin locks up the "family value" Republicans who were nervous about McCain all along; c) If she only picks up ten to fifteen percent of Hillary Clinton's 18 million, Obama is in big trouble; d) Her gun toting (lifetime NRA member) will play well with those that "cling to their guns" in Montana, Colorado, West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Florida. The NRA will be sure that all those voters know it, too.
Regarding a debate with Biden, he concludes, "she will go in with the lowest expectations possible. She only needs to hold her own, in order to get a big win. If there are Iraq questions, Biden would need to be very careful. What exactly is his current position on Iraq? Does he still support partitioning? Does he still think we'll have troops there in 10 years, like he said a couple of years ago? Does HE HAVE A SON OVER THERE, like McCain and Palin do? And, Biden won't be able to bully her at all, like he would be naturally inclined to do Romney or Pawlenty."
It may be a textbook example of denial. But I don't think this is "whistling past the graveyard" posturing. These are the folks who will be running the GOP "get out the vote" machine in two months and their energy level will be critical.
So, what still might be the "three-legged dog" of nominating conventions has taken on a new and interesting dynamic for me.
Let the games begin.
Matt Maul is author of the blog Maul of America.