Rich Tucker

Maybe, like one of those old recruiting posters with Uncle Sam pointing his finger at you, the picture really does change depending on where you stand.

Columnist David Broder -- famed as the “dean of the Washington press corps” -- noted in The Washington Post that all the trash containers in sight at the Republican National Convention were labeled “recycle only.” So, he wrote, it only made sense that Republicans recycled, too.

“They decided to treat the delegates and a national television audience to speeches by three of the most familiar and weather-beaten figures in American politics,” Broder wrote, namely President Bush, Fred Thompson and Joe Lieberman.

That’s an interesting way of looking at the Republican National Convention, especially since it comes just one week after a real recycle-fest.

In Denver, Barack Obama -- self-declared agent of change -- cribbed heavily from John Kerry’s talking points four years ago. To take just one example, Obama insisted (as Kerry had) that the war in Iraq was a distraction from “the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11,” in Afghanistan.

Well, if Obama wants to nail his colors to the mast of the same ship Lt. John Kerry guided to defeat in 2004, good luck to him. Maybe, to torture the metaphor, the community organizer from Illinois will even be able to pilot that ship safely into port. Still, the fact remains that there’s very little change and plenty of recycling happening on the left.

And while Broder’s correct that Lieberman is indeed a veteran at addressing national political gatherings, his role in this one was anything but “recycled.” Here’s a man who never left the Democratic Party, but watched sadly as it left him. Lieberman came within a whisker of being elected vice president as a Democrat in 2000, yet was here to extol the qualifications of a member of the opposite party. That’s unique in the history of American politics.

Meanwhile, the GOP introduced Sarah Palin, the fresh young governor of Alaska, as its vice presidential candidate. Say what you want about Palin’s experience or lack thereof, but she’s anything but recycled.

In fact, the only parts of this convention that felt like we’d heard them before were the repeated references to McCain’s time as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. It’s a moving story, well told by Thompson, Palin and McCain himself.

Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for