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"All That Drivel"

Compared to Zell Miller's snarling attack on John Kerry at the 2004 Republican Convention, Joe Lieberman's big speech in St. Paul last night wasn't particularly remarkable. But it was a bit surreal, and not just because Lieberman was the vice presidential nominee of the Democratic Party two cycles ago.

After all, Lieberman was speaking to an assemblage of hard-core conservative activists, many of whom just last week threatened to disrupt the convention and take a walk in November if McCain dared place the Connecticut "independent Democrat" on his ticket. Most of his listeners would privately condemn him as a baby-killing, tax-crazy, tree-hugging labor hack whose frantic support of the Iraq War is his only redeeming policy position. Yet Lieberman's entire message was about "bipartisanship," or as The Corner's Andy McCarthy put it today, "all that drivel about crossing the aisle and needing to 'get things done.'" He even contrived to deliver a line that forced delegates to cheer Bill Clinton.

We'll hear a lot more of "that drivel" tonight and tomorrow night, and the delegates will continue to dutifully applaud, even though few of them actually believe in "bipartisanship" or want to "get things done" through government beyond fighting a few wars and regulating the private lives of American citizens.

The reality of this convention is that conservatives have long since gotten their pound of flesh from John McCain via his long march to the Right since 2004; his selection of Sarah Palin as his running-mate discharged all debts in full. Those delegates are now purely and simply stage props for a television show in which McCain and Palin will relentlessly beat the "maverick" and "reform" drums in an implicit, if dishonest, repudiation of the party and ideology they represent, not to mention the incumbent administration whose policies they support.

The delegates will cheer "all that drivel" to the rafters, knowing they've got their man, and their woman, firmly in the party harness.