RNC, day 1… well, whatever

You could call it day 2. Tuesday. I like that the opening speaker referred to Sarah Pawlenty. That was a cute Freudian slip to start with :)… “oh why didn’t we pick the Governor of MN”… No, it’s not clear yet that core Republicans are unhappy about the pick, although the media are loving all the stories, and democrats can’t help feeling things are falling apart for McCain. But it’s always hard to tell with these things. Reagan made it through Iran-Contra, Bush got elected with Quayle, Clinton survived Gennifer Flowers – you just don’t know what’s going to stick and what’s gonna slide off.

If Palin’s speech tomorrow goes well [and she’s been out of the spotlight & moved to tomorrow night because the VP candidate always speaks on the penultimate night & she’s prepping for the biggest speech of her career, not because they’re ditching her – she was on the roster for tonight when she was just an ordinary up-and-coming Governor] then this might just be seen as “liberal hubbub” or something.

ANyway. The RNC line up has been all about “service” tonight, and they’ve been exploiting every military, churchy, volunteery, or patriotic activity possible… Even Laura Bush’s speech introducing her husband, which seemed like it was at least trying to point toward statistics or arguments about why this presidency was a success, got the most applause with the line “he has kept us safe”. It’s the same stuff from 2004, though they can’t focus as much on 9-11 – but instead of talking about issues or ideas, they are tugging at heartstrings. I suppose they can make the argument that they’re the party of less government, so their platform is about the power of the individual human spirit, but it is misleading since they are showing exceptional cases, not explaining how ordinary people will deal with ordinary problems, like rising health care costs and unemployment.

The other three speeches were Bush on a video screen, Fred Thompson, and Joe Lieberman. What a weird night. It was all kinds of contradictory – do we support Bush? Are we in tough times or is the Other Side full of shit? But as expected, it showed a pretty strong decision to stay on attack. Bush made a regular guy generic type speech about service, with a line in there about how he and John sure didn’t agree on everything. Thompson focused on McCain’s bio, and then went on the attack – first against the media and their treatment of Palin, and then against Obama and his empty rhetoric.

Lieberman was the weirdest talk of all as he mostly tried to go above the actual attendees and try to talk to the people watching at home, to court democrats and independents. It was believable that he was being sincere when he was talking about McCain as an experienced reformer and Obama as a young, eloquent, but not-yet-ready senator, but it was just unbelievable when he tried to attach Sarah Palin to that. It just made his entire judgment seem unbearably questionable so that listening to him in the first place was practically pointless…

We’ll see how the next couple nights go, but the fight isn’t over yet. The RNC certainly seems to have a smaller audience, and it seems like the democrats have a lot of advantage when it comes to issues (health care and economy, primarily) but I’m not sure racism is out of the picture (in a very hidden / underlying sort of “we don’t know this guy” way) and emotional sway has a lot of power in other ways (patriotic duty, etc). So we will see.

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