McCain and Palin party down

Balloons, confetti and rather literal music help bring the Republican convention to an end.

Published September 5, 2008 3:18AM (EDT)

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The speech was flat, the backdrop went from lime green to electric blue, and the Xcel Energy Center ain't exactly Mile High Stadium, but there is something nice about a traditional balloon drop at the end of a convention, and John McCain knows it.

The Republican convention came to a close Thursday night amid a sea of confetti, balloons and streamers, and you sort of had to wonder whether a Barack Obama victory this fall would mean an end to one of the oldest tableaus in American politics. (If the guy can pack football stadiums, he may not need gigantic balloons to rev the crowd up.) Yeah, the scene looked like it could have been straight out of 1980, and that doesn't do much to give the impression that McCain is the candidate of the future. (Or to counter the Democratic message, which was that McCain didn't spell out how he would change the direction the country's going.) Still, the whole crowd looked like it was having fun in the flood of red, white and blue falling from the ceiling. Maybe getting rid of balloon drops is one change America doesn't need yet.

The music, however, betrayed a certain literal-mindedness. "Barracuda" by Heart -- a nod to Sarah Palin's nickname. "Dancing in September" by Earth, Wind & Fire -- the perfect song to dance to, on Sept. 4! (Though it's hard to call what Republican delegates do to music dancing.) "Celebration" by Kool & the Gang, "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey, "Everyday People" by Sly & the Family Stone ... every song had a message, and they weren't very subtle. But then again, neither was the convention, so maybe that was apt.

By Mike Madden

Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent. A complete listing of his articles is here. Follow him on Twitter here.

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