The night formerly known as Night Three of the Republican National Convention was dedicated to "Reform and Prosperity." But more important, it was the party's, and the country's, first substantial look at Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who in no time at all has become not only a national politician but a subject of controversy and a figure of symbolic import.
She was the night's story, down to how well she would handle speaking off a teleprompter: "But we will see, because we're open-minded about what we're going to be anticipating," CNN's Wolf Blitzer said.
Far from being a drag on the event, the unexpected news of the Bristol Palin pregnancy was a gift, both to the party and to the press. It turned a spotlight on a favorite Republican enemy: "the media," which were castigated, a little more than they deserved, for making a story out of a story. And it gave the press, which had been expecting a dull convention, both a narrative to exploit and another chance to talk about itself.
Mitt Romney led the parade of former opponents who preceded Palin. He was dour and a little belligerent. Mike Huckabee followed, measured and humorous and lightly pastoral. He opened with a good joke: "I am genuinely delighted to speak here on behalf of my second choice for the Republican nomination for president."