When I woke up this morning after fitful dreams of unthinking moose marching in lockstep, I switched on the TV and happened upon the Fox morning crew in full political crow because of the events the night before. A well-fed man - didn't catch his name - was telling the faithful that the Democrats can't stand a woman candidate, especially one who is so threatening to them.
Apparently this fellow was out to lunch when Hillary was racking up those 18 million votes. So much for not favoring women.
But the round fellow was right to this extent: Sarah Palin does represent a big political threat. Last night at that great consciousness-lowering event known as the Republican National Convention, she gave a great speech - I have never heard such twaddle so expertly delivered.
She spoke better than any of the warm-up acts. I liked Mike Huckerbee the best. Unlike Fred Thompson the previous night, he was not dismissive of the historical significance of having an African American running for president. In his decency, he went out of his way to pay it tribute.
Unfortunately, he ended his speech with a surpassingly silly story about a teacher who supposedly took the chairs out of a classroom to make a point about the value of service by veterans. Some teacher - wastes a precious day of learning to make a point that could have been delivered in five minutes.
Still, at least one got the impression of a well-meaning soul. By contrast, Rudy Giuliani was Dr. Strangelove, punctuating his bilious remarks with his hand as if possessed by demons. The low point for me is when he turned Barack Obama's early career as a community organizer into a mocking joke.
Yeah, what a laugh! Fancy someone spending part of his youth trying to help poor people! Hilarious! (Mrs. Palin was also to join in this fun later). Of course, the previous day at the convention had been dedicated to Service. Did I mention that this gathering is an irony-free zone?
But the highlight was Sarah Palin's populist speech. She ignited the crowd, which admittedly was not difficult. This crowd could have been doused with a fire hose for half an hour and would have self-combusted at the sight of her.
She was just your average hockey mom appearing front and center at the modern equivalent of the Nuremberg rally. After telling us cheerily about her family, she got down to the business of sliming Obama in one long juvenile parody of his positions. She had all the smugness of someone who knows all the answers without ever bothering to ask any of the questions.
The low point may have been this genuflection to the politics of fear and loathing concerning Obama: "Al Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America ... he's worried that someone won't read them their rights?"
This got a great cheer. Never mind that some suspected terrorists have turned out not to be terrorists, never mind that Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib have been blots on the American conscience and have reduced our moral leadership in the world, offended allies and compromised our ability to succeed in the war on terror, never mind that mistreatment of prisoners may potentially make any future American POWs subject to revenge, never mind that Obama has promised to step up the war in Afghanistan against terrorists, never mind that John McCain himself was a principled opponent in the Congress against the use of torture, never mind that her own Christian principles demand decent behavior, never mind any of that. The hockey mom saw her chance to please the peanut gallery and she shot and scored.
And so it went, with one distortion after another. The Republican plan is clear: Lie about Obama's character and record, be bellicose at every opportunity, promote fear, encourage divisiveness, drape the flag over everything and pander to prejudices. All the while, avoid mentioning the inconvenient, unflattering record of George Bush and his party over the last eight years.
Yes, the Democrats handed out some tough criticism of their opponents too. But both Obama and Joe Biden took pains to praise John McCain's character. The contrast with the Republicans is striking: What little good comment has been made about Obama has been grudging and insincere.
So far this convention has pretty much been an anti-Democrat hate fest. If the Republican ticket wins, as well it might now that smearing has found an attractive, smiling and effective spokeswoman, it will be the bitter partisanship of the Bush years all over again.
Tonight it is the turn of John McCain - suggested campaign slogan: Yesterday's Man for Tomorrow's Problems.