The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Char­ac­ter. Con­vic­tion. Judg­ment. If you’re pay­ing any at­ten­tion at all to the Repub­li­can Na­tional Con­ven­tion, you’ve heard th­ese words re­peated with prac­ti­cally ev­ery speech out­side of the over­rid­ing themes for each evening. It is not by ac­ci­dent. Fred Thomp­son on Sept. 2 pointed out: “I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced John’s char­ac­ter first­hand. … We need a pres­i­dent who stands on prin­ci­ple.”

Plagued by scan­dals, over­spend­ing, an un­pop­u­lar war and bruis­ing losses dur­ing the 2006 midterm elec­tions that led to two lost ma­jori­ties, to­day’s Repub­li­can Party is in the mid­dle of an iden­tity cri­sis. Claw­ing its way through re­def­i­ni­tion, Repub­li­cans may have found their re­demp­tion with the McCain-Palin ticket.

From re­fo­cus­ing on life to high­light­ing the im­por­tance of the ju­di­ciary and bash­ing the lib­eral es­tab­lish­ment at ev­ery turn, a new en­ergy has re­turned to the party of Lin­coln. “Democrats present a his­tory-mak­ing nom­i­nee for pres­i­dent — his­tory-mak­ing in that he’s the most lib­eral, most in­ex­pe­ri­enced nom­i­nee to ever run for pres­i­dent,” Mr. Thomp­son said.

Of course, the ques­tion of ex­pe­ri­ence has been bandied about on both sides, as it is an im­por­tant and le­git­i­mate to ask. Yet, one would think Sarah Palin her­self is the one run­ning to be com­man­der-in- chief, not John McCain. Of course, if some­thing were to hap­pen to a Pres­i­dent McCain, she would need to step in. But we don’t know enough about her yet to de­ter- mine whether she could do just that. That is what her speech was about and what she and Mr. McCain will have to con­vince vot­ers of on the cam­paign trail.

The pres­i­den­tial ques­tion for the Repub­li­can Party seems to have more to do with judg­ment based on char­ac­ter than ex­pe­ri­ence. On Sept. 2, Pres­i­dent Bush re- minded del­e­gates and the pub­lic: “Last year, John McCain’s in­de­pen­dence and char­ac­ter helped changed this coun­try. The Democrats had taken con­trol of Congress and were threat­en­ing to cut off fund­ing for out troops. … He told them he would rather lose an elec­tion than see his coun­try lose a war. … Amer­i­cans will look closely at the judg­ment, the ex­pe­ri­ence and the poli­cies of the candidates and they will cast their bal­lots for the McCainPalin ticket.”

The par­ti­san rhetoric at the con­ven­tion was fly­ing — from the man without a party (Joe Lieber­man) to Fred Thomp­son and Mrs. Palin. Re­fo­cus­ing on core prin­ci­ples is the pri­or­ity; prin­ci­ples that un­til now have left the party faith­ful ques­tion­ing Mr. McCain’s con­ser­va­tive cre­den­tials.

As a sign of what’s to come, was the video that rolled af­ter Mr. Bush’s speech, where the nar­ra­tor said Ron­ald Rea­gan’s pres­i­dency “re­placed in­de­ci­sion” with “con­vic­tion pol­i­tics.” For all the rhetoric dur­ing the con­ven­tion and that which has yet to come, at the very least it can be said that the Grand Old Party is back in fight­ing form.

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