Last day of the gig, and everything’s leading up to McCain, who will be speaking at about 9.30, two hours past his bedtime. He may have to wander off for a leak halfway through.

Round four of the battle of St Paul and the protestors finally got their sh-t together, and managed to block off the whole northern half of the city, cannily using the overpass system the city fathers put in in the 60s (watch Rundle’s video coverage here.)

The whole of St Paul was channeled into a single freeway entrance, and four bridges and the protestors have taken them all. Token forces at each intersection have forced the police to close each of them off, and flying columns run through the park to keep the cops guessing about where the main balance of forces are.

So we can’t get down to our usual haunt, much less the actual convention centre and are filing from this cavernous hotel on the hill.

Half a dozen Republicans just came in. Then they all went out, leaving one — the runt of the litter — to order for ’em. Six steaks she said … of course … one bloke came back in, to make sure she go the order right, and yelled “and mashed potatoes for all!”

And mashed potato for all my friends. That’s the message.

Outside, about 200 protestors just ran past the floor to ceiling windows, followed by 200 cops. V funny.

My good friend Crikey correspondent John McCain is out there somewhere and may be reporting in on video.

Cindy McCain on now, it’s about 8.33 here.

God she creeps me out.

Previously we had Phil Gramm, another of McCain’s mancrushes — this man really has a lot of very very close bloke friends … I bet they all rent a summer house in Crete…

The subject of the evening has right up till now of course been Barack Obama, obsessively, unstoppably, well beyond any sort of usefulness … I think.

But who knows?

Cindy about how she met John — how he changed her, taught her the meaning of obligation, etc etc.

How they went to a Bangladesh cyclone and saw two beautiful children they adopted “and one of them is here tonight — Bridget”.

Shot of Bridget.

We all know Bridget. She was the girl that Dubya’s team in 2000 spread the rumour was McCain’s half-black love child.

Which I guess is the difference between Democrats and Republicans.

“In my box tonight is Ernestine…” say what?

Oh … Rwandan refugee.

Cindy’s wearing a better dress than the last, a $300,000 one which looked like it was entirely made from human skin, of someone with a large neck, to get the wraparound collar. Her hair looks like a bald eagle has attacked the back of her head

The GOPers have finished their steak and gone. The table looks like a field surgical hospital.

“Cindy McCain’s speech was rather subdued…,” says a Fox news person … sedated is the word …

I am trying to be fair, trying to be fair.

While we’re waiting it’s worth reflecting on the whole Palin thing. The general assumption is that with the appointment, the McCampaign has gone back into the culture wars. But to be fair, the Palin thing turns the culture wars into 3D chess, around the whole teen pregnancy/working woman thing. For 20 years, the right has insisted that teen pregnancy is due to the moral failure of the parents — most recently around the pregnancy of Jamie Lynn Spears as a sort of poster mother and child for hollywood dissolution … and now this has become a commitment to fecundity and life etc … hitherto the right attacked the idea of selfish working women pursuing their profession, and now there is apparently no problem with being VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES with five children, two of them under 10 … and how can the Dems play it? Total crossover? Very interesting …

McCain film starting now.

“He’d stand for hours and stare at the border of North and South Vietnam … the closest he could get to his son, who was a prisoner in Hanoi, a city he’d just ordered to be carpet bombed…”

“When you’ve lived in a box the world becomes clear…,” said Fred Thompson.

9.14pm central.

McCain on stage now, out on the runway like a model.

Bizarre pic behind him. White House from another view. One of the houses he doesn’t know he owns?

“I’m grateful to the President of the United States” — who remains unnamed — “for the worst attack on American soil…” going through the whole thang “grateful to the 41st President…” hilarious … they will not say Bush.

Screen is mostly green behind him — do they want another round of the Colbert Report viewers photoshopping him in … yes of course they do…

Tribute to McMom who is 183, and who I’d vote for…

“A word to Senator Obama and his supporters … you have my respect and our admiration…”

Very tepid applause initially.

“Beyond our differences we are Americans and that is more important to me than any difference.”

Big applause on the Americans line.

So far it’s nothing new — but it was never going to be. Palin was the star turn.

USA! USA! USA!

“Get this country back on the road to prosperity and peace…”

BUSH SUCKS! BUSH SUCKS!

On to Palin.

“She’s run a small business, she’s worked with her hands and nose…”

Say what? Is this an eskimo thing? Eskimo kisses five cents a go?

“…knows, knows what it is to…” oh just bad line break

“Ive been called a maverick…” also by most of the people asembled here, a c-nt…

“I fought for more troops in Iraq…”

The surge. Here we go.

“I learnt an important lesson from all the fights I was in…”

“I fight for Americans … I fight for you…” I fight for almost any reason whatsoever…

Recitatio of names of people who’ve been screwed over by the system…

Actually hacking into Republicans…

“We lost the trust of the American people … we went to change Washington and Washington changed us…”

This stuff is new, audience drawing in breath a bit…

“We’re going to recover the basic trust…”

He’s going into Republican beliefs now. In the bar, off-duty riot cops are piling in, taking off their helmets, rubbing the spot on their head where it chafes. What’s the verdict? It’s a solid speech, but apart from the GOP attack, not really going to convert anyone. Even given the Palin bump, will this be enough to give him the extra oomph he needs, to get the extra five per cent and more he’s trailing behind…?

Coverage continues on liveblog here.

And mashed potatoes for all. and mashed potatoes for all.

Peter Fray

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