Spotlight on Bush's acceptance speech

President George W. Bush will accept his party's nomination at the Republican National Convention (7 p.m., PBS; 9 p.m., ABC, CBS, NBC) tonight. New York Gov. George Pataki will make a speech introducing Bush to the delegates.

This speech marks the final time before the presidential debates that the president will address the American people directly. It will be interesting to see what themes emerge tonight. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, the last two presidents to be re-elected to second terms, based their campaigns around sunny visions of the future. In 1984, the Reagan campaign used cheery refrains like "It's morning in America" and "You ain't seen nothing yet" to exude confidence. Clinton, with an eye toward the approaching millennium, promised in 1996 to "Build a bridge to the 21st Century."

Does anyone remember the acceptance speeches of one-term presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush? Neither made the case that four more years of their leadership would serve the country well. Both men also had their conventions all but hijacked by defeated rivals (Sen. Ted Kennedy in 1980 and Pat Buchanan in 1992). Challenger Ronald Reagan also overshadowed sitting President Gerald Ford in 1976. Is it any wonder that the parties have turned conventions into such scripted, predictable events?

Will the president make a case for a better future under his leadership, or spend his time attacking his opponent, Sen. John Kerry? Will the convention's New York setting remind voters of the president's resolve after Sept. 11, or become a symbol of how his attention has strayed from the war on terror to the preemptive invasion and occupation of Iraq?

Tonight's other highlights

  • "The Bachelor" host Chris Harrison appears on "Extreme Makeover" (7 p.m., ABC). A second "Makeover" (8 p.m.) follows.
  • Marvin the mortician spends his last day as Head of Household on "Big Brother 5" (7 p.m., CBS).
  • A teenager's beating death raises suspicions on "CSI" (8 p.m., CBS).
  • Julian and Ricky open their own casino on "Trailer Park Boys" (8 p.m., BBC America).

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