[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/02/art.gergen.gi.jpg caption="Gergen says Republicans are likely happy with the first night of the RNC."]From a Republican perspective, this was a strong first night. Speaker after speaker gave testimony to the courage, patriotism and independence of John McCain - messages that will resonate with a good many voters across the land. In addition, they drew some stark contrasts between Barack Obama and McCain, the kind of contrasts that are legitimate at a political convention - even when you disagree with them.
But there were also some dispiriting aspects to the evening. It revealed once again just how deeply divided this country is and how much free-floating anger and hatred there is toward those seen on the other side. There is a whole lot of demonization going on that suggests just how difficult it will be for the next president to unite the country. Repubicans probably think that Democrats were worse than they were - and vice versa; personally, I cringed a little less at some of the Democratic rhetoric (though there was some that went over the line).
I also found it interesting how much the Repubicans are eager to fire up their supporters by reigniting the "culture wars". Abortion has very much injected into the campaign and once again the Republicans are finding it easy to beat up on the press - the "big shots" in the media, as they call them. Will it work? You tell me.
Will look forward to your thoughts.