August 29, 2008

Sun for Obama, Hurricane for McCain

After the American Century

There are times when the time, the place, and the very elements come together in patterns that make events seem fated, and the speech Barack Obama made in Denver was one of those moments in history. Convention locations and times are decided long before the candidates have been selected, so no one planned the coincidence that the first Black American to be nominated for president would close the convention on the very day that Martin Luther King gave his "I have a dream speech" 45 years ago. Nor could anyone have forseen that Colorado itself would be a crucial swing state in the coming election. Obama did choose to speak outdoors in a stadium, and this was taking a chance on the weather. No one could guarantee years in advance that the day in question would be sunny, the evening would be gorgeous, the crowd ecstatic.

The chances of history do not appear to be favoring the Republicans, who prepare to hold their convention next week in St. Paul. Located on the Mississippi, it was always possible that it could remind Americans of the terrible flooding of New Orleans further downstream in 2005, exactly three years ago, and the disgracefully poor response of the Bush Administration. Weather reports now make clear that Hurrican Gustav will likely hit Louisiana just as the Republicans are scheduled to begin their convention. Not only is it a terrible reminder to voters of their cronyism, incompetence, and utter failure in a national emergency, but if the storm is at all serious, it will drown interest in what the Republicans are saying. Indeed, there is open talk of postponing their convention. However, anyone who has organized even a small conference knows that trying to change the dates will be a logistical nightmare, almost certain to make the Republicans look disorganized and reduce the impact of the event. Imagine trying to rebook 15,000 hotel rooms, to change all those airplane reservations, and so forth. So the ultimate nightmare: Republicans have a party in Minnesota while a storm rages in their electoral heartland. The scourge almost seems Biblical.

The sun shines on the Democrats, a hurricane strikes the Republicans. Shakespeare would have no problem that, and might have knocked out a couplet to punctuate the transition.

Then rose a mighty Hurricane upon the GOP convention.
It howled down John McCain and drowned his nomination.