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With Democrats having assumed the mantle of hawkish, Bidenesque interventionists, and Republicans offering federal nostrums for education and Bill Frist's "health diplomacy," the Republicans and Democrats have more than justified the accusation that on actual policy they are as indistinguishable as Coke and Pepsi.
A competitive race is still good for the country:
Then again, without meaningless brand differentiation, we wouldn't have Pepsi One or Coca-Cola Zero. The best news of the Palin breakthrough is that it will make the remaining two months competitive and give the Republicans a chance to expose the weaknesses in the Obama-Biden ticket. What had looked like a fading challenge from the GOP has been at least partly invigorated. With the race once again a statistical tie, let's hope the two campaigns will get creative and possibly offer some actual substance in the debates. Or maybe we can just hope the Obama presidency will be a Carteresque four-year disaster that paves the way for a Reagan-style romp by Palin in 2012 (which may be the Republicans' actual strategy).
Let conventions be conventions:
You would never guess that the actual business of a convention was to have delegates vote for the party nominee, not to test the national patience with four days of boring speeches and Oscars-style production numbers. With the Hillary diehards safely locked in a padded room and the Paulites off in the St. Paul equivalent of a leper colony, and with both vice presidential picks announced prior to the opening gavel, 2008 once again elevated party discipline over any semblance of contention or any opposing viewpoints in the political process. Many delegates skipped out before the Wednesday roll calls even began, presumably to ensure they didn't miss any opportunities for drinking. And who could blame them, given what a formality conventions have become? The parties are private organizations entitled to run their shops as they choose, of course, but just once it would be nice to see a little old-fashioned head-banging in the process of crowning a nominee.