Bullet-pointed marginalia from last night's proceedings inside the e-less Xcel Center….
* Jo Ann Davidson, the chairman of the 2008 Republican National Convention Committee, gave the first of many gender-politics shout-outs with a rap about how in 1892, the last year the RNC was held in the Twin Cities, that was the first GOP convention to seat two women alternates. It went on like that ("Ever since that convention, women have been an integral part of the Party!"), until the big punchline, which she gaffed: "And today, 116 years later, we are holding a convention that will nominate a Republican woman, Gov. Sarah Pawlenty, our next vice presidential candidate!" Whoops!
* Judging from audience response, delegate enthusiasm for Ronald Reagan outweighs delegate enthusiasm for Teddy Roosevelt by a factor of roughly 10 to 1.
* I haven't talked to a single RNC delegate who didn't think that not having George W. Bush and Dick Cheney anchor down Day One was a stroke of good fortune. There was even some wicked speculation from multiple sources that had not Hurricane Gustav intervened, McCain woulda had to think of something to put "country first," or at least ahead of his convention's Day One. All that said, Laura Welch Bush and her husband were greeted very warmly.
* The second pop song played at the top of the prime-time proceedings was Journey's "Don't Stop Believing." Which strikes me as either A) a tad desperate, B) a Sopranos reference with implications every bit as mysterious, or C) a straight-up (and long-overdue?) GOP embrace of Yacht Rock.
* Speaking of music, more AC/DC, please. If Republicans want to get their Against Christ/Devil's Children on, I for one will not stand athwart history yelling "stop." Leave appropriately Angustastic suggestions in the comments for complementing last night's "Thunderstruck."
* Starting with his (late) entrance to the hall, there were about 7,000 different standing ovations for George Herbert Walker Bush. The first one was just a gracious and spontaneous tribute to an old grandee. The subsequent several thousand acquired bore a different character: Now that's my Bush!
* As photographic evidence confirms, there were more empty seats even in prime-time than there are at the end of a Dodger game. At the Democratic Convention, if you didn't take root two hours before anything important, the fire marshal wouldn't let you in. Here, you walk right up and find a nice bar stool and table looking directly at the stage. A sign of flagging enthusiasm? Was everyone just at the Ron Paul rally? Who knows!