Tuesday afternoon

The GOP convention will start in earnest this evening, including a speech from former presidential candidate and “Law & Order” star Fred Thompson.

Thompson plans to defend Sarah Palin from what he calls “panic” in the media.

According to the Weekly Standard, he will say, “What a breath of fresh air Governor Sarah Palin is. She is from a small town, with small town values, but that’s not good enough for those folks who are attacking her and her family. Let’s be clear, the selection of Governor Palin has the other side and their friends in the media in a state of panic. She is a courageous, successful, reformer, who is not afraid to take on the establishment.”

The news (and innuendo) about Sarah Palin is trickling out like a fountain that never stops running. Yesterday it was her daughter’s pregnancy; today it is questions of whether she was ever part of an Alaskan secessionist movement, which itself seems to have spawned from stories that she once backed the candidacy of Pat Buchanan. (Couldn’t Buchanan put that one to rest?)

The McCain campaign has been working all day to tamp down some of the rumors, like the Buchanan one, while putting other events of Palin’s life in perspective.

I can’t help but think of the GOP convention in 1988, when Dan Quayle endured flaps over his National Guard service and other mini-scandals before he was finally nominated. In the end, it didn’t prevent George Bush from beating Michael Dukakis, but it proved a distraction.

One unrelated note: The narrator of John McCain’s biopic on Thursday will be none other than Robert Duvall.