Thoughts on the shrub's speech
I wouldn't vote for Bush if you paid me, but I felt a certain civic obligation to entertain his nomination acceptance speech last night at the RNC. A few quick observations are in order. First, it was too long. My wife fell asleep halfway through. Two-thirds-in the back of my head was nestling into the couch pillow too. In order not to flub, Bush paced the speech way too slow, at times talking the way you might to a senile hard-of-hearing grandparent or down syndrome child. The interruptions by protesters provided some much needed drama, and to be fair, his rhetoric improved in the last part of the speech when he talked about his god-given mission to spread freedom -- pure fiction, but delivered with hints of personality and conviction. A joke, but some will swallow it.
The laundry list of domestic proposals was utterly unconvincing, the subtext being, I have a vision...see, and I can pander to various constituencies. Another subtext (you really have to read between the lines and have done some research to see it) is, I and the Republican congress are going to finish off the New Deal welfare state. We're going to rewrite the tax code, gut Social Security, and bankrupt domestic spending -- drain the swamp and then slash and burn what remains. Of course, you can't be that honest in a politcal speech, so you dress it up in vague, benign slogans like "ownership society." but really, we're talking about a return to William McKinley era priorities.
So, it was about 15 to 20 minutes too long, short on specifics, slid right past most of the major issues facing the country on domestic and foreign policy fronts, and mostly appealed to the Republican base issues, hard- and softcore. And September 11 was repeated about a hundred times. Can't we let these dead people rest in peace, for Chrissakes? By the end I was begging to be put out of my misery. One word summary: boring. I sensed that the people in the hall were antsy, wishing it was all over too. Please shut up and let us all go home to our police states.
The prespeech video montage was idiotic and hilarious. It, I think, was trying to make the connection between Bush's bullhorn speech atop the rubble of the twin towers (his finest rhetorical moment?) and throwing a baseball at a New York Yankees game. ??? Whatever. I guess it was supposed to be a moment of bravery to reach homeplate while wearing a bulletproof vest. In and of itself, that baseball toss really solidifies claim to a second term, don't you think.
The postspeech celebration was zombie central. Laura Bush being Laura from Stepford. Cheyney being forced to almost smile and make certain hand flip gestures that could be interpreted as waving. Bush looking doped up and glassy eyed, also stiffly pacing around the center stage. As spectacle, it was uninspiring and tired. Either that they don't want to be forced to mime their way through this charade because they're overconfident, or they don't believe in this because the internals tell them they don't have a shot to win this thing unless they steal it. But they outdid the Dems on balloons and confetti. So let's give credit where it's due.
It was a strained, almost somber speech, the more I think about it. Hardly inspirational, unless you buy into the theocratic fascism of crusading blind faith freedom invasions. Perhaps it will appeal to baseline Republicans, but there's little to nothing here that will stick in the memories of undecided voters three days from now. Maybe the goal was to make it through without fucking up. And it's clear that Karl Rove and co. operate on the working assumption that you should never underestimate the stupidity of the American people. For boobus Americanus, the race boils down to fear, flag, and freedom vs. faggots, france, and flip flops.
The real news of the night was Kerry's coming out at a midnight rally in Ohio with a bare knuckle, charismatic attack on Bush/Cheyney, citing the VP's draft deferrments and Halliburton shenanigans and ripping Bush as a misleader unfit for command. I think the rope-a-dope tactics of August are officially over. We'll see if Kerry is the campaign finisher he's supposed to be. It's going to be all red meat and body counts from here to November....