Virginia's GOP delegation
Yesterday's Washington Post took a look at the delegation from Virginia that is attending the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul: 63 delegates and 60 alternates, 85 men and 38 women. The article contrasted the ebullient, optimistic spirit of Virginia Republicans four years ago to the sadly divided state the party is in today, "Hoping to Put a Halt to Slide." The article quoted one delegate who belongs to Americans for Prosperity, Ben Marchi of Richmond, as saying "Republicans had forgotten where they came from." Hmmmm... On the other hand are the relative GOP moderates who abound in Northern Virginia such as Rep. Tom Davis. As the article states,
Some moderate Republicans worry that they no longer have a place in the party and that a shift to the right is coming as the state is tilting left.
The party in Virginia is certainly in a fluid situation, and anything can happen. State Sen. Ken Cucinelli and others were quoted in that article affirming that the party is starting to bounce back. Nevertheless, the factionalism among Republicans in this area (Staunton-Waynesboro-Augusta County) remains so deep that the two sides barely acknowledge the other's existence, if at all.
As for the convention itself, there is no drama and everything seems preordained, except for occasional news items about teen pregnancy, etc. In the Virginia primary held in February, McCain received 50% of the vote statewide, compared to 41% for Huckabee, who was very popular in the Shenandoah Valley and other rural parts of the state. Because Huckabee conceded the race in March, however, all delegates are committed to McCain. In a way, it's too bad they can't go through the voting process on the convention floor so that the "also-rans" can get some satisfaction for all the campaign work they did. It wouldn't mean that the party is divided, it would, rather, give a more accurate indication of everyone's first preferences, just for the record. I was for Fred Thompson originally, but I support John McCain wholeheartedly, without any reservation. Other people in the party have made a name for themselves by harshly denouncing relative moderates like McCain for being "RINOs," but not me.
Hurricane Gustav distracted everybody's attention from the Republican gathering, in large part because it coincided almost exactly with the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. That tragedy spotlighted the Bush administration's excessively detached approach to governance, and probably marked the beginning of the decline of Bush's presidency. I thought it was pointless to delay the 2008 convention's scheduled business just because of the weather, but now that the storm has passed without causing catastrophic damage, they can get back to the planned agenda. Hurricane Gustav did yield one clear benefit for the Republicans, however: It provided President Bush (and Vice President Cheney) with a plausible excuse for not attending the convention. Their presence at the podium would have made the McCain people very uncomfortable, and video clips thereof no doubt would have been incorporated into TV commercials for Barack Obama.