Republican Convention Diary: Blue and just a little deflated on all the hot air

THIS ONE balloon, blue and a little deflated, had had enough. Unable to await its cue at the end of President Bush's acceptance speech, it had somehow escaped its net high in the Astrodome much too early and, carried on the up-draughts of human euphoria and frenzy, managed to float about distractingly in front of the podium for almost an hour. The balloon-drop proper, when it came, was suitably impressive, accompanied not just by a colourful confetti storm and patriotic singing but also by a slightly alarming firework display that shrouded the press platform in acrid smoke.

No one would accuse these friendly folk of Nazi tendencies, but there was something Nurembergish about the last moments of their convention. The podium, a million-dollar extravaganza, was definitely of the Albert Speer school of architecture with its monumental proportions, square arch and fake-granite facing. Just before the appearance of the leader, the arena was plunged into darkness for a film tribute to past presidents, much of it in flickering monochrome with a menacing, drum-rolling soundtrack. Happily or unhappily, Mr Bush did not quite match up to the metaphor. Disappointed with the acceptance speech, one journalist muttered: 'Ein Volk, ein Reich, aber kein Fuhrer.'

The Democrats do not have a monopoly on dressing up and looking stupid. Spotted among the suits and ties on the convention floor were two Abraham Lincolns and at least three Uncle Sams. And there was lots of silly headwear, especially variations on the elephant theme, as the official Party mascot, some with ears and trunks so large that those wearing them were having difficulty hearing or seeing the proceedings. And there were some cute hats, too, in honour of the Vice-President, with life-sized stuffed quails nesting in plastic leaves. Oh, and look over there - an Olly North look-alike. Oops, I'm so sorry, that is Mr North, a guest of delegates from Virginia where he is considering a run for the Senate.

Some were taking the unusually cool weather in Houston as proof that God is indeed a Republican. The city normally gasps through August with temperatures and humidity in the high 90s. But this week, the mercury has generally been about 10 degrees below normal. Few resorted, therefore, to the natty little 'cool bag' given to each of us by the St Luke's Episcopal Hospital for use in case of heat stroke. Squeeze the bag firmly, the instructions said, and the contents would miraculously turn to ice. It still came in handy though for those struck with migraine after hearing the 1,000th exhortation about family values.

Republican sentiment about family values had some hostile competition on the front pages this week. First it was the Woody Allen revelations - the Democrats could hardly have arranged a better news distraction if they had tried - and then word filtering across the Atlantic of the Duchess of York and her suntanned toes. 'Fergie Puts Family Values To Shame', ran the headline on yesterday's Houston Post.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test