Tony Blankley

In the past 30 years or so, since presidential conventions no longer actually have decided the nominees, their usual purpose has been to focus and project a positive image of the already chosen candidate (and, of course, disparage the opponent). But last week in St. Paul, Minn., the GOP convention was different. It not only enhanced but also -- at least for the moment -- reversed-fielded the image of the Republican ticket.

In the aftermath of that reversal, the entire presidential contest has been upended. It also hastened (or perhaps even made possible at all) the change of the human image of the GOP from Bush/Cheney to McCain/Palin.

Until last week, Sen. McCain was running as the boring candidate of experience and was unable to substantially replace Bush as the image of the party. With Bush having a 70 percent negative image, he not only was dragging down McCain but also constituted a drowning weight on the buoyancy of Republican candidates at the federal, state and local levels.

But with the addition of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to the ticket, suddenly and spontaneously, McCain the reformer, McCain the maverick stopped being a GOP talking point and became incarnate. It is not only that the Alaska governor is a genuine reformer but also that by every aspect of her being, she is fresh, different, recognizably normal, and thus, the un-Washingtonian. The power of her image has supercharged McCain's image.

We see the first effects of McCain/Palin replacing Bush/Cheney in Monday's USA Today/Gallup Poll, in which 48 percent say they're Democrats or lean to the Democratic Party; 47 percent say they're Republicans or lean to the GOP. That merely 1-point party gap -- the strongest position for Republicans since Bush's second inaugural, at the beginning of 2005 -- had been in double digits only a few weeks ago. Moreover, voters -- by only 48-45 percent -- support the Democratic candidate in their congressional districts, the Democratic Party's narrowest advantage this year. If these numbers hold -- and it is a big if -- Republicans may well lose far fewer seats in the House and Senate in November.

Moreover, in an act of political alchemy, McCain's selection of the nationally inexperienced Gov. Palin only underscored Sen. Obama's own national inexperience. Worse for Obama, Gov. Palin's presence has sucked the oxygen out of Sen. Biden's public statements -- forcing presidential candidate Obama into the unthinkable: He himself must go on the attack against McCain's vice presidential junior partner. Worst of all for Obama, his campaign of a fresh face with new ideas is falling victim to a newer face with newer ideas.

As I predicted in a Feb. 28, 2007, column:


Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

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