What a Concept!

“Never name the well from which you will not drink,” the old Spanish proverb runs, and in my life, it has been proven true time and again.

Tell me that I’d be brought to my knees for Cindy and John McCain’s films and speeches, and I’d have laughed in your face, but there I was, on the final night of the Republican National Convention, in considerable pain, kneeling on the floor of the Xcel Energy Center, with a 300mm lens and a serendipitous pocketful of Ibuprofen.

I had gone into the place on a photographer’s pass, then managed to finagle a Floor Pass, which, for a photographer, means you’ll be spending time on the floor as directed by security. No standing in the aisles during speeches.

On the bright side, when you’re busy ignoring the pain in your joints, and jostling for photo positions, you’re not hearing the speeches. Years ago, I photographed former Attorney General Archibald Cox at his press conference after being fired by then-President Richard (“I am not a crook”) Nixon. Got the photos, but don’t remember a word Cox said.

What I do remember from the torrent of words spilled over these past months is McCain’s comment to the press before the Convention opened, in the dreadful hours waiting to see if the New Orleans levees would hold against Hurricane Gustav. On Monday, Labor Day, as the planners decided whether to cut short, amend, or rearrange the scheduled agenda, McCain told reporters: “I pledge that tomorrow night, and if necessary throughout our convention, we will act as Americans, not as Republicans.”

What a concept! I won’t elaborate on the time limit of “if necessary throughout our convention,” nor am I making a slam against McCain in particular—but wouldn’t it be wonderful if all politicians of every stripe made it the first item on their agenda to “act as Americans, not as ______” (fill in the appropriate word).

I have two final thoughts to impart:

First, register, go to the polls, and vote on November 4.

Second, thanks to the Iowa delegate marshal monitoring McCain’s speech on his BlackBerry, who, noticing my obvious physical discomfort, whispered, “Just three more minutes,” and then, as the cheering began, extended a hand, and pulled me back up on my feet.

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