A Non-Political Convention?

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Years from now, political consultants will be studying how the McCain camp responded to the pending tragedy named Gustav, now swirling in the Gulf of Mexico. The first volley: John McCain promised today to hold something like a non-partisan, non-political start to the convention, which is a bit like making a banana split without bananas, or ice cream. Said McCain:

We must redirect our efforts from the really celebratory event of the
 nomination of president and vice president of our party to acting as all 
Americans. We’ll change our program and I’ll be announcing details of it in 
the next few hours. But there’s very little doubt that we have to go from
 a party event to a call to the nation for action, action to help our fellow 
citizens in this time of tragedy and disaster, action in the form of
 volunteering, donations, reaching out our hands and our hearts and our 
wallets to the people who are under such great threat from this great natural disaster. I pledge that tomorrow night, and if necessary, 
throughout our convention if necessary, to act as Americans not 
Republicans, because America needs us now no matter whether we are
 Republican or Democrat.

Of course, this statement fits nicely with the McCain campaign’s central message of being a new kind of unifying Republican. But it’s still a major trick to pull off–turning a potential echo of the great Hurricane Katrina embarrassment into a showcase for a new kind of Republican competence. Stay tuned.