Michael Steele, former lieutenant governor of Maryland (he lost his race for Senate) got the crowd chanting DRILL BABY DRILL. That was AWESOME. To steal a neologism from Stephen Colbert, it was crasstastic! I would kill for a McCain t-shirt with that slogan. Both parties need to be more like Threadless.

Mitt Romney: words cannot express how much I’ll miss him after November. He’s camp for political junkies, this incredibly earnest, pretty, expensive figure who looks perfect on paper and at first glance, but who observation quickly reveals to be just busted. He’s like the Legends of the Fall of politicians. “Tyrannosaurus appetite of government unions.” See how it’s just slightly off, like a chair with a leg that’s just a bit too short? That’s Mitt Romney. He has everything except talent.

I can’t actually say anything bad about Mike Huckabee other than that I disagree with virtually all his actual political stances. He’s the only good speaker in the Republican party–he sounds exactly like John Edwards, actually, but the difference between Edwards and Huckabee is the difference between good and great. His only competition right now in political oratory is Obama. He’s also the only politician who sounds thoughtful about Christianity, especially off the cuff, as one would hope from someone with an M.Div.

Wow, who thought it was a good idea to bring up eloping? Paraphrasing: “They face the challenges that parents throughout America face”: her daughter’s pregnancy is a qualification. Well played!

I’ve been trying to figure out what the deal is with the pictures behind the podium is, and I finally figured it out: it’s a screensaver!

Rudy using “community organizer” as a punchline was slick. “Community organizer” is going to be the new “San Francisco values.” Mitt Romney must look at Rudy with angry, unbridled envy. 

DRILL BABY DRILL! We are inside Terry Southern’s head right now. Mitt Romney is wondering why they aren’t chanting about tyrannosaurs.

“He immersed himself in Chicago machine politics.” Hey, that’s us! Sorry, kind of zoned out there.

“Who won? Bin Laden? Al Qaeda?” Isn’t that kind of an awkward question? You know, given things?

Rudy is blasting “them” for saying that Sarah Palin running for VP makes her a bad mother. (He really loves being snide–he feels the same way about being a douchebag as I feel about baby animals.) Followed by a cutaway to Bristol Palin. They’re cutting away to Bristol Palin every 30 seconds, so I guess the gates have been opened. I think I’m going to be ill.

Hey, it’s the woman of the hour. Damn, she’s pretty good. I think the accent alone might be worth half a point. Mitt Romney must be grinding his teeth into powder.

The stiff upper lip about Wasilla… she’s good. Even if you don’t like her, you should be aware of this. Thus far it’s really a star-making performance. I wouldn’t mention the Bridge to Nowhere, though. I mean, it’s not simply a lie… there are T-shirts. You have to finesse that shit.

The thinly veiled torture lust just makes my blood run cold. Coming from someone seemingly normal–someone who hasn’t clearly gone ’round the bend like Giuliani or Romney–just makes it all the more terrifying.

ptb: “sarah palin is kind of dressed like hermann goering. DOWNTOWN PRINT IT

Hang on… now they’re doing some kind of halftime show/performance art/country concert… now John Rich is singing a country-rock song… “he got shot down in some Vietnam town… put him in the Hanoi Hilton, thought they could break him in two….” John Rich sings of arms and a man! It’s like “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” with creepy overtones about habeas corpus. I’m developing irony cancer.

Sarah Palin’s a star; she made herself with that speech, just as Obama did back in 2004. The structure was brilliant, moving from hockey mom to barnburning conservative; it was polished in the cultural details, like the phrase “a servant’s heart”; and her glaring weaknesses were returned as culture-war ammunition. She has a presence that’s a mass-charismatic version of normal, perhaps closer to Bill Clinton than George W. Bush–composed, unforced, folksy, and radiant, yet with a killer instinct. I’m not surprised the National Review is in a glee meltdown and talking of flipping the ticket.

Will this change the shape of the immediate election? My friend Ben seems to think the speech was too small: “perfectly pitched to a party interested in nothing more than nurturing its own resentments.”  Perhaps, but she’s better at it than any other prominent Republican since Bush was still trying.

Either way, she’s gone from albatross to future star with one speech, which, as a politics, writing, and oratory junkie, I can’t help but be impressed with. If you don’t understand why some of us wade through the John Warner and Mitt Romney speeches, that’s why.