Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Republican convention speeches inspire ... even this Democrat

(Crossposted on Florida Progressive Coalition blog)
UPDATE: Good comment available on State Rep. Dan Gelber's blog, too.

Thanks to a quick-ending meeting of the Miami Beach Democratic Club, I was able to listen on the car radio and get home to watch on TV most of the Republican speeches Tuesday night: Laura Bush, George W. Bush, Fred Thompson and Joe Lieberman.

What a wash of crap!

May I quote the best one-word line from Barack Obama’s acceptance speech in Denver: “Enough!”

But they will not stop. We face nine weeks of this until election day. It will be hard slogging, and few in the news media will step up to contradict the mean-spirited distortions that will be directed at Barack Obama and the inflated praise that will bathe the McCain-Palin ticket.

An example of this wishy-washy media performance on MSNBC a few minutes ago: After the speeches, U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) was interviewed by a floor reporter whose name I didn’t note and she lied blatantly about Obama’s vote on an abortion measure, declaring that he was willing to let “babies die.“ The reporter didn't challenge this. Thanks goodness that Anchor Keith Olbermann came on screen to declare that the issue had been quite different and that Obama had based his vote on the fact that laws already prohibited such an event. And, he declared, he was quite sure that Heather Wilson knew full well that was the case.

In other words, Ms. Wilson may speak with a gentle tone but she lies. Thank you, Keith Olbermann.

George W. Bush, speaking from Washington with what looked curiously like two crosses flanking flags in the background, startled me by running through John McCain’s time as a POW and then asserting, “If the Hanoi Hilton could not break John McCain’s resolve to do what is best for his country, you can be sure the angry left never will.”

Huh? “Angry left?” Is that us? Are we trying to break McCain’s resolve? My aim is to elect Obama, and McCain’s morale is not on my radar.

Bush ran on about abortion and protecting against hurricanes and claimed much for his tenure, and then must have been put into a sound-proof cell while Fred Thompson and Joe Lieberman creamed the Washington that Bush has nurtured for eight years. And where would the odiferous Dick Cheney have been secreted to keep him from hearing Thompson describe his Republican successor, Sarah Palin, as a “breath of fresh air?”

Thompson started off stepping on his own lines but warmed up and predicted that McCain-Palin would “drain the swamp of Washington.” (Listening, W?)

Olbermann was startled, apparently, when Thompson channeled Wes Clark and said that “Being a POW does not qualify someone to be president, but it does reveal character.” Olbermann, in the after-speech wrapup, asked several times about whether this was a little off-message, since Thompson described McCain’s service and captivity in excruciating detail.

Thompson, speaking with the help of a Teleprompter, derided Obama’s oratory as “a Teleprompter speech designed to appeal to America’s critics abroad.”

The hall was awash with two main signs: “Country First” and “Service.” Maybe that was another reason for keeping George W. Bush and Cheney away, famous for shirking service and having other priorities when others were fighting and dying. (I was an infantryman patrolling the Delta in 1967 when McCain was getting shot down.) Bush’s father, Bush 41, was in the hall and received a big-screen video tribute to his service. Another video idolized Ronald Reagan, who was pictured wearing a military service cap as if he’d had a warrior career. Jeb Bush, by the way, was not in the Bush box.

Olbermann introduced Lieberman’s keynoter entrance as “one of the great political reversals.” Indeed, once the Democrats’ VP nominee and now an escapee from McCain’s short list to be the Republican VP (Who would want to lose twice?), Lieberman worked for a few paragraphs like a Democrat to lay out massive problems deriving from two Republican terms. People out there “face big and real problems,” he said, naming fear of losing jobs, worry about health insurance, threats from abroad. Feeble applause as he stretched his face wider and declared that the people wanted solutions but Washington gave out nothing but “senseless partisanship.”

He went on to misquote George Washington on the issue, and here my notes give out, but Keith Olbermann later said the First President had not merely condemned partisanship but in fact thought all political parties were anathema.

Lieberman got a little more applause with this line of argument, though it seems faulty: If McCain would be so mavericky and non-partisan, what would he do with the restless genius of Karl Rove? But then Lieberman gave Bill Clinton favorable marks for passing welfare reform and trade agreements and for balancing the budget. Curiously, a few minutes earlier, Fred Thompson had claimed the same accomplishments as Republican triumphs during his one term as senator from Tennessee.

Finally, Lieberman did his assigned job, speaking to the camera to people “out there” who are “Democrats and independents and Republicans” and urging them to “vote for the best for the country, not for the party you happen to belong to.”

That’s where I hope this message falls apart. I do not happen to belong to the Democratic Party. It is a conscious and intelligent choice, and one of the things I dislike most about the Republicans is the two-faced behavior that disgraces their election campaigns.

I’m glad I watched and listened. Now to work harder.

One last note: earlier, as I was driving home I turned on NPR and heard a nominating speech by a woman whose name I didn’t catch. She started off seeming to claim a touch of heroism in her military career but then it turned out she’d come down with a circulatory ailment while on PR duty in Bosnia and had a leg amputated when things went wrong at Walter Reed. One can sympathize with her plight and still wonder why this downer was one of the nominating speeches for McCain.

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