It seems that the press will have a hard time, this election cycle, comparing the Democratic and Republican conventions, since the Republican campaign will be at least somewhat disrupted by Gustav. Some will say that the two conventions should not be compared, while others will be itching to do so.
My suggestion: the conventions should be judged as Olympic diving was this Olympics. There should be a difficulty score for each convention. Judges then award an execution score, on a ten-point scale. The highest and the lowest of the judges' scores are tossed out and the remaining five scores are totaled. These scores are then multiplied by 3, divided by 5, and multiplied again by the degree of difficulty of the dive.
Let's say you're going to do a dive--I mean "speech"--on the 45th anniversary of some big thing, and then you do up your platform to sort of resemble the site where that other thing happened. Also, you decide to perform in front of 80,000+ people in a giant stadium, eliciting mutterings of "Paris Hilton" and "Leni Riefenstahl" from critics. If you tank, say, kicking up a lot of splash on your entry, you still get some points for trying something complicated. But if you ace it, then your score is out of the park.
Other factors affecting difficulty might be:
* choosing a running mate that sends the political world into a tailspin of amazement and last-minute research;
* having to contend with a major hurricane that reminds voters of how very competent your party has been in the last 8 years on so many matters;
* losing some of your convention speakers, because they decide they might need to run the government this time (I would contend, however, that this actually LOWERS your difficulty rating);
This sort of scoring system should allow political analysts to stop feeling bad about assessing the successes and failures of the two conventions.
Meanwhile, Gustav, please go easy.