Make no mistake about it.

If the GOP Convention is canceled, abbreviated, moved or otherwise changed in reaction to Hurricane Gustav, it has nothing–I repeat, nothing–to do with a considered reaction to a national tragedy.

It has everything to do with what happened when a similar national tragedy unfolded three years ago. They can’t make people forget that, but they certainly want to try and not stir them up with a split-screen memory while their party parties on.

However, and you know I’m right, if the GOP man in the White House were a national leader who had proven his mettle, the convention would go on even if half the nation were simultaneously struck by hurricanes, floods or waves of vampires while speaker after speaker cheered their president’s strong and effective reaction to the troubles. They would be dancing in the aisle as the candidate himself tossed away his Obama attacks (well, some of them) and spent his time aligning himself with the man he hoped was his predecessor.

But George W. Bush, whose presidency is considered by most informed observers as the worst in American history (a conclusion not likely to be changed by the passage of time, no matter how many times those reassurances are whispered in Dubya’s shell pink ears by the remaining loyalists), is not that president they so desperately needed him to have been.

George W. Bush is a failed man–been that all his life if you look at the record–and his absence from the podium in Minneapolis-St. Paul is their last best hope for somehow convincing the inattentive among the voting populace that McCain and his Trophy Veep are not just more of the same.

Gustav is, quite simply, their salvation, a way to avoid four days of the nation wondering how it is that the 72-year-old man who has snarled  “Country First” almost as often as “P.O.W.” and who has been pounding away at the idea of experience and leadership could select a vice-presidential running mate whose only virtues appear to be a hoped-for and cynical appeal to women (just because she is a woman, because she certainly doesn’t agree with most of them on the issues, and I would find that the ultimate insult were I female) and a clear one to the basest of the base, harkening back to her pitchfork-toting days in Patrick Buchanan‘s racist army.

Devastation? Destruction? No Dubya onstage?

Bring it on, say the Rovians.

And if John S. McCain is so far gone ethically and morally as to actually deliver his acceptance speech via satellite from someplace along the Gulf Coast where Gustav has wreaked havoc, he will finally have shed the last, tattered remains of the respect he once owned for his military service.

We are, all of us, not only what we have done, but what we do.


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