September 1, 2004

Day 3 of the Republican Convention.

Here I go again. As before, I'll keep all my commentary in one post and use numbered paragraphs to indicate the updates.

1. A Baptist choir sings a terrific version of the National Anthem (even if they did quite clearly sing "Whore the land of the free..."). The Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios, wearing beautiful vestments, gives a beautiful invocation. Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle gives some introductory remarks. She's wearing a lei, and Chris complains about it. I defend it as an emblem of her state. Chris rejects the defense: "Would the governor of Wisconsin wear a big cheesehead hat?"

2. Senator Rick Santorum: a boo is heard in the room here in Madison. He has a smug, wise-guy attitude, and I don't think I'm saying that solely because I disagree with his attitude about gay rights. "The torch of marriage is dying out." Do we want the federal government to pay for marriage counseling? Even if it is religious? That's a hard question. He has a good line: "[Kerry] says he is concerned about the separation of church and state. Senator Kerry should worry more about the separation of children from their fathers."

3. Wisconsin, for some reason, and I don't object, is recognized to make a motion to proclaim Dick Cheney the VP candidate by acclaimation. "And the motion is agreed to." A little "Cheney" chant breaks out.

4. I caught up to the live feed and I needed to let TiVo get back out in front of me to re-enable fast-forwarding, so I went upstairs to fold laundry, and I put on the upstairs TV--the TiVo-less Sony Wega (where the colors are always so comparatively crisp)--and I caught a little of Wolf Blitzer, Judy Woodruff, and Jeff Greenfield on CNN. And what were they punditizing about? It was practically word-for-word taken from this Instapundit post, from way back this morning, about manipulating the Iowa markets!

5. Representative Paul Ryan from Wisconsin. You can tell he's from Wisconsin because he clearly pronounces Wisconsin "Wi - SCON - sin," not, as I say even after 20 years here, "Wis - CON - sin." [ADDED: They're really playing up to Wisconsin tonight, aren't they? It must be something in the polls.]

6. I think it's a good sign that there is so much amateurish material. The party really isn't that slick. So much bad music! The faux interviews with community leaders. That lame comic segment with Barney the dog (who at one point had a debate with a white French poodle puppet dog named Fifi Kerry). I think 20 years from now the political convention will be a seamlessly acted entertainment extravaganza that everyone will watch and enjoy. But right now, we still live in the real world, because everything's a little bit pathetically ragged.

7. The tribute to Reagan. Beautiful. Many beautiful images. Reagan's voice: "We got America to stand tall again."

8. Is there some rule that every woman has to wear a light blue suit?

9. Finally, Zell Miller. It seems silly to say that and an indication of how much filler we've had to put up with tonight. I like Zell Miller and think he's a good speaker. He's speaking quickly for some reason. "My family is more important than my party." Only Bush is good enough for his family, he asserts. Then he reels back to the story of his life: he's a little boy, FDR is President, there's an "overriding public danger." He brings up Wendell Wilkie, with whom he clearly identifies. He's making a plea to overcome partisanship in a time of danger. He condemns the Democrats of today for putting their partisan politics above the nation's security. His voice trembles with anger as he says: "Nothing makes this Marine madder than someone calling America's troops occupiers rather than liberators! Tell that to the one half of Europe that was free because Franklin Roosevelt led an army of liberators, not occupiers!" Similarly, Eisenhower and Reagan. The soldier, not the protester, has given us our freedom. Don't dare to think of being President if you don't think of our soldiers as liberators! But the leaders of the Democratic party see America as the problem! They blame America. They believed in Carter's pacifism. "And no pair has been more wrong, more loudly, more often than the two senators from Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry!" Miller is unleashed. His opposition to his own party erupts here tonight. Kerry voted against so many arms programs, so what would he mean to be Commander in Chief of? "Spitballs?" Kerry would wait for the UN to approve of military action: "Kerry would let Paris decide when America needs defending." He would "outsource our national security." His opposition to Kerry slams down heavily. John Kerry would give terrorists "a yes/no/maybe bowl of mush." Bush would clamp down hard and not let go! He admires that Bush believes God "is not indifferent to America." He's like an old-fashioned preacher. He speaks with straight conviction, with almost a defiant sneer on his face. It's very effective!

10. Lynn Cheney introduces her husband, who, as a teenager in Casper, Wyoming, did not, like the other kids, cruise back and forth between root beer stands. He did not do the twist. She knew he was the guy for her. Imagine Dick Cheney as the love of your life! That's the way it is for them. Who are we to question love? Now, here he is. The grinding, grim flatness of Dick Cheney is just what it is to be Dick Cheney. He is what he is. It doesn't play to the big hall terribly well, especially not after the great revivalist Miller, but what did you expect? Perhaps even less. He lays it out. And you can take it or leave it. He's not doing the twist. He's Dick Cheney.

11. "A Senator can be wrong for twenty years without consequence to the nation, but a President always casts the deciding vote." Cheney is warming up as he lays into John Kerry. He's amusing himself. He chuckles: "Senator Kerry's liveliest disagreement is with himself. ... Senator Kerry says he sees two Americas. It makes the whole thing mutual. America sees two Kerrys." A man in the audience is seen rhythmically waving two flip-flops.

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