Hurricane Gustav, raging ashore on the Gulf Coast, has cast a thousand-mile shadow all the way to St Paul, Minnesota, where the Republican convention opens/opened in curtailed and subdued session. Organisers are anxious not to be seen having a party while fellow Americans are losing their homes in a deluge. Convention proceedings are being kept to a constitutional minimum until the full extent of Gustav's wrath is known.
The US news networks, which provided round-the-clock coverage of last week's Democratic Party events, have a headache. To ensure a measure of balance they want to give similar prominence to the Republican event, but key correspondents and senior anchors have been redeployed south. Vast swathes of air time are going to catalogue Gustav's progress in minute, and sometimes morbid, detail, squeezing the time available for the events in St Paul. Politicians vie with meteorologists for the best slots.
US news shows adore weather stories - gung-ho reporters, excited, soaking wet and almost impossible to hear in the storm's fury, push themselves to the very edge of what safety and common sense would dictate, to show how bad things are. For some, it's news coverage at its sexiest, it's certainly difficult for a politician making a stump speech to compete.
The initial Republican response to the challenge has been sober and practical, reflecting the mood in the South. Convention organisers have made Gustav part of the narrative in the Twin Cities - the hurricane is setting the tone for the week. John McCain must be all too aware of Katrina's effect on the Bush presidency - he will not want Gustav to taint his campaign for the White House.
So prepare for a subdued and purposeful week for the Republicans. It's likely the streamers and the balloons suspended in their thousands from the ceiling of the convention venue, designed to add a festive tone to McCain's anointment as presidential nominee, will stay firmly in their nets until the gavel in St Paul comes down for the last time and the delegates have headed home.
deluge 洪水[C] 暴雨[C]
dictate 命令,規定,要求,指定 命令,支配
purposeful 有目的的 意味深長的;重大的 有決心的;果斷的