Andrew Sullivan, in The Atlantic, got it right: "Reality television has become our politics." Policy positions (heck, any foreign policy knowledge) isn't important, since Sarah Palin is a hockey mom who eats mooseburgers and can read a teleprompter.
It isn't about policies, it's about white women in focus groups saying she reminds them of Hillary Clinton.
Palin wanted to ban books when she was a local mayor. She's fine with creationism being taught alongside evolution. She left a town of 8000 people with $20 million in long-term debt. Two weeks ago, she sat in church, and listened to a man say that terrorist attacks on Israelis are God's "judgment of unbelief" of Jews who haven't embraced Christianity. 115 000 people voted for her as Governor of Alaska in 2006, but she doesn't hesitate to pour scorn on Barack Obama who received 18 million votes in the Democratic primaries.
Pregnant teens are bad, unless they're Palin's daughter. A town with a meth lab for every 200 people is bad, unless it's the town where she was mayor. The Republicans have been in control of the White House from 1980 to 1992, and from 2000 to 2008, and in control of the US Congress from 1994 to 2006. Yet, all of the problems in America are down to "liberals" and "big government" - which they have had nothing to do with. The entire crowd chanting "USA" -- becoming a term of defiance and division: "We're real Americans -- and you’re not."
Obama's not a saint, but the kind of politics that he's trying to put in place (bringing people together, rather than polarise and hate and divide), that patriotism isn't owned by one party in the US, makes such a contrast to the spectacle in St. Paul.