Day 1—Not much happened today as Hurricane Gustav dampened (ha, ha, get it?) the Republican party’s plan to start this convention on time and rocking. I think Gustav actually helped the Republican convention. It kept Bush off TV for opening night. Instead, they dispatched the generally more likeable and infinitely more popular Bush—Laura. These days, she is the preferred Bush, not the one of the George variety.
Cindy McCain comes out. She looks like she’s got some Lady MacBeth ambitions. I think she wants to be “queen,” so she’s trying to help anoint John McCain “king.” Lady McCain comes out dressed like Queen Elizabeth I, high, starched collar and all! I guess she has to play the part—them Republicans love their women to look prim and proper. And primordial.
Day 2, 7:00pm—There’s a video tribute to “America” narrated by actor Robert Duvall. Hey wait, don’t Republicans hate celebrities interjecting themselves into politics? Five seconds and twelve words into the video, they tap 9/11 with an image of the rubble.
7:00:2—20 seconds in and there’s Reagan image. Big cheers.
Rosa Parks is on screen in the video. There are cheers for Reagan, but nothing for Rosa Parks.
Cheers for Arnold but nothing for MLK. I think who they cheer for and who they don’t says a lot about this group of people and this party.
Two minutes into the video and here’s another tip of the hat to 9/11. This time, it’s Bush with the mic at Ground Zero. Wow, did Rudy Giuliani make this tribute video on his home computer?
CNN commentator Bill Bennett (and former Education Secretary) tries to play up Sarah Palin’s credentials by saying Palin serves a great “American First” cultural purpose. He mentions she’s never even taken out an America Visa/Passport until a couple of years ago, but when she did, she went to Kuwait, not Paris…Oooo, it took all of five minutes for Republican talking heads to smear France again. Gee, could there be a link of France/Frenchie to the Democrats coming soon?
One minute later, and there it is. Bennett just mentioned Thomas Jefferson and how he spent too much time in Paris, and then James Madison and how he never left the US, but was a great president. Gotta love the Republican mentality—to be the US president and the leader of the free WORLD, no international experience is necessary. In fact, if you’ve never left the US to see the world, somehow that makes you the best suited person to lead the world.
Funniest and most hypocritical “campaign button” ever seen at a Republican convention: “I support unwed mothers.”
Wait, it gets even better! It’s being worn and displayed by a Christian fundamentalist! You have to laugh at the sheer desperation and hypocrisy of this button. Had Chelsea Clinton gotten pregnant at 17 and Hillary had been running for President or been on a ticket as VP, these Christian fundamentalists would have slain Hillary as a horrible failure of a mother because she let her whore of a daughter get pregnant.
7:15—Republicans continue to depict themselves as the party that owns the American flag. Video full of shots of the flag is shown, accompanied by a voiceover of en essay written by a fifteen year old girl about “the flag”.
7:16—The video continues. It says the flag was right there with MLK. What total pandering. MLK was marching against the severe discrimination (for over 200 years) African Americans suffered at the hands of white southern slave owners, the descendants of whom, comprise the majority of the Republican party today. They can try, but their “talk” (showing videos with MLK) doesn’t come close to jiving with their “walk” (no cheers when MLK image flashes on screen).
7:17—image of the Twin Towers crumbling. Wow, less than 20 minutes in, and they allude to 9/11 for a third time. Seriously, is Giuliani running this convention?
CNN interviews Michael Sessions, mayor of Hillsdale, MI, the youngest mayor in America. He was 19 when elected. He says he supports John McCain because national security is important to him. Hey, Hillsdale has 40,000 people; Wasilla has 8,400. Let the Republican arguments begin about how Sessions is FIVE TIMES more qualified to be VP than Palin. Let the chants start now: McCain/Sessions 2008!
8:25—they show a brief video tribute to George H.W. Bush (41). The narrator says “President Bush built one of the largest international coalitions to take on Iraq.” I think this video pretty much undermines the theory and practice of Dubya.
8:34—CNN announce team just took turns praising John McCain as an American hero and how brave he was for not taking the opportunity to leave the Vietnamese prison early.
8:37—video tribute to Michael Mansoor, who threw his own body on top of a grenade to shield his compatriots from harm. It’s a very nice, loving and fitting tribute to a true hero. However, I wonder why they don’t mention Jessica Lynch or Pat Tillman…hmmm…
They announce Mansoor’s family is in the house; the family stands to be recognized and the convention hall gives them a standing ovation. This is the kind of “red meat” stuff that the Republicans do very well. They continue to portray themselves as the party of country, flag and military. And they continue to impersonate the fact that military servicemen and true patriots are Republicans.
I wonder why the Democrats didn’t give prime television time to veterans returning from Iraq who can’t believe we’re over there in the first place. And where are all those generals who say the Iraq War was complete BS? They were shown on TV at like 3pm on CSPAN, when and where no one is around to see.
8:46—Laura Bush comes on stage in “Republican Red!” It’s actually so bright it’s blinding! She says the Republican party has a powerful ticke—a real hero in McCain, and a proven executive in Palin. Proven executive?
She adds that women have always played a pivotal role in the Republican party. Right, that’s why Sarah Palin is the very first woman on a Republican ticket.
She professes her love for her man, W. She recalls him as a man of character who’s positions will not change due to political winds. Apparently, he won’t change his positions in the face of facts either.
Laura touts Bush’s “No Child Left Behind.” She says it’s a great and successful program because students are achieving like never before. Funny how she doesn’t actually cite any facts or proof. And for a party which has made a mantra out of “we listen to the people on the ground,” they sure don’t go to public schools and talk to many teachers.
Laura says, “President Bush has kept the American people safe.” Except she doesn’t mention that 9/11 actually happened on his watch. How does 3,000 innocent civilians dying on one day because he ignored a Presidential Daily Briefing entitled “bin Laden intent on attacking America” which detailed that Al Qaeda wanted to fly planes into buildings keep us safe?
6:54—43, Dubya, addresses the convention via satellite from the White House. He talks about Gustav and how New Orleans is safe and doing well. Really? I guess you’ve forgotten Katrina.
Bush talks about how he’s reviewed the daily intelligence briefings every day. See two paragraphs above.
Bush tosses out red meat by calling the left “angry.” Of course no mention of why the left is angry. Basically, it’s because the right has been so monumentally incompetent.
“John’s an independent man who’s not afraid to speak his mind.” Yet the man has voted with you 90% of the time. Again, in the words of Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, that’s not a maverick, that’s a sidekick.
“Folks, we live in a dangerous world.” No mention that his policies and utter incompetence has helped make the world more dangerous.
Another 9/11 mention. Of course W has to throw 9/11 in there. It happened on his watch.
The most obvious thing in Bush’s speech: what was missing–no mention of the words “jobs,” “economy,” or “gas prices.”
9:06pm—Laura Bush takes the podium over again. She praises Cindy McCain and says that Cindy has spoken to leaders of Kosovo about land mines as well as done work in foreign countries. Hey, Cindy McCain has more foreign policy experience than Sarah Palin. Maybe this ought to be the McCain/McCain ticket…
9:13—Hey, Arthur Branch from Law & Order is on my TV screen. Did I accidentally change the channel?
Thompson comes to the stage and supplies John McCain’s life and service story again. There really isn’t anything new that he offers. We’ve seen and heard it all in the McCain ads.
Thompson then delivers “red meat” for the conventioneers, even though much of it was just lies and old retreads of the Republican party like “most liberal senator” and “they’ll raise your taxes and build a big government bureaucracy.” I’m curious how many “most liberal senators” there are in the Congress because every four years, Republicans keep trotting that out again and again.
I don’t think Thompson’s speech was particularly effective. It was languishing and seemed to draw on and on. It reflected the two most negative qualities Thompson exhibited during his run—droopy stagnation and wallowing.
CNN’s David Gergen, who’s served like fifty different presidents, disagrees with me. He says that Thompson’s was the strongest speech of the night. I guess I’ll defer to Gergen.
9:40pm—Joe Lieberman walks on stage. No introduction whatsoever. He gets a mixed response. He brings up bipartisanship and gets a tepid response. He also gets a tepid response as he talks about high gas prices and slow economy because these folks know the Republican Party will be linked to. Crowd only wakes up when he starts to say supportive things about McCain.
Lieberman compares Obama to Bill Clinton and says that Obama has not reached across the aisle like Clinton did. Then Lieberman praises Clinton’s successes as president such as welfare reform and the balanced budget. There’s a long pause, as if everyone in the hall was thinking if they needed to clap for Bill Clinton. Then, deciding that they would look petty on national TV, they offered a very unenthusiastic round of applause. It was actually kind of funny to see Republicans begrudgingly acknowledge Clinton’s achievements.
As objective as I can get, I actually thought Lieberman’s speech was a lot nicer than what I anticipated. He took a few soft shots at Obama. Again, Gergen disagrees with me. He thinks the speech was more vicious than it needed to be, and that Lieberman’s future in the Senate is in jeopardy should the Democrats win the White House and a bigger majority in the Congress. So I guess I’ll defer to him again.
Perhaps the funniest moment of the night came not from the convention, but from my sister who is not political at all, and happened to be watching with me, turned to me and said, “why is everyone there so white?” She followed this up with “how come they’re all wearing cowboy hats?”
I nearly died laughing.
But the truth is not quite as funny. The whole night, flipping back and forth among CNN, MSNBC and CSPAN (yes, I said it, I watch CSPAN), I saw a total of five minorities—two in the crowd, MLK and Rosa Parks via the video tributes, and the last one was Bridget McCain, John and Cindy’s adopted daughter, who is originally from Bangladesh.
This convention so far certainly doesn’t make them look like the “big tent party.” If anything, the “Republican audience” reinforced the longstanding idea that the Republican Party is of the white people, by the white people, for the white people.
If the Republican Party were music, it would range from country to western.
That’s it for now. More to come tomorrow on Day 3.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association