Steve Benen wraps it up very nicely:
Going into their convention, the Republican Party faced a rather daunting challenge. The nation wants change, and a conservative Republican president has been in office for eight years. He's failed miserably, and the former head of the NRCC recently compared the Republican brand to dog food. It's similar to the predicament facing the party in 1992.The Republicans are running on a platform of change so that they can prevent any change from occurring. The mental gyrations are amazing.
What to do? If the last couple of nights are any indication, the GOP has decided to simply pretend that they haven't been in power for most of the decade.Three days into the Republican National Convention, it is clear that the G.O.P. has settled on a message: "Washington is not working." The phrase is included in virtually every speech and every statement in St Paul.Watching the speeches, and the contortions Republicans have to go through to avoid mentioning the current president (and ostensible head of their party), it's like getting stuck in a "Twilight Zone" episode. The multi-millionaire former mayor of New York railed against "cosmopolitans." The multi-millionaire, Harvard-trained, former governor of Massachusetts railed against "eastern elites." Just 48 hours after the party's nominee insisted the convention would be less partisan, we're bombarded with the most ugly and nasty partisanship of any party gathering in years.
We agree completely that Washington is in desperate need of renewal and reform. We're not even going to quibble about the fact that Barack Obama said it first. The problem is that American voters have yet to hear -- from John McCain or his warm-up acts -- any serious ideas on what, exactly, is wrong with Washington, apart from the fact that a Democrat might win the White House, never mind how to truly fix it.
The difficulty for the Republican ticket in talking about change and reform and acting like insurgents is that they have been running Washington -- the White House and Congress -- for most of the last eight years.
Sarah Palin, the vice presidential nominee, was a combative and witty relief at a torpid convention. But it was bizarre hearing the running mate of a 26-year veteran of Congress, a woman who was picked to placate the right-wing elite, mocking "the permanent political establishment in Washington."
And we couldn't imagine what Mitt Romney was thinking when he denounced "liberal Washington" and then, at the convention of the party that brought you unimpeded presidential spying, declared: "It's time for the party of big ideas, not the party of Big Brother!"
Welcome to The Ironic Convention, 2008.
And Palin? She's an opportunist out to hog the limelight. She loves it. She's in her element and she'll say or do anything to stay there.
Addendum Sept 4, 2008 at 2:34 pm CDT
Laura Rozen reported on her own response to the Palin speech, then a number of other reports.