You know a reporter’s presence in the convention hall is cardinal when proximity to an unprecedented distraction (from—take your pick—delegate, journalist or protester) only serves to sharpen his or her observations about the main affair. Alas, Commentary’s Jennifer Rubin—trying to focus on McCain while protesters rabble-roused nearby—didn’t make the cut tonight:

One gets a different sense in the middle of an event — in this case an aisle away from two Code Pink rude-niks being hauled from the hall as the crowd burst into “USA!” The electric excitement being in the center of the event can be either instructive or distracting. In this case what struck me was the solidity of McCain. He is a stocky man — he conveys weight and stability. His language is basic and he marched the audience through first principles of conservatism and basic policy objectives.

In short, this was a speech well suited to the man delivering it.

Yes, it was definitely the “sharp pink dresses” that triggered the visual comparison of McCain to a didactic farm animal.

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Jane Kim is a writer in New York.