Republican Convention Redux – Night 2
Despite a large crowd that waved placards and broke out in random chants of “U-S-A” and “Country First” over the course of two hours, there was not a great deal of enthusiasm during the first full night of the Republican National Convention. In addition, having watched most of the DNC convention last week, the organization and overall execution were certainly not matched by the Republican party this election year.
The lack of enthusiasm was reflected most obviously in President Bush’s brief and carefully constructed speech. I’m not sure what the political pundits are saying right now, but it seemed to me that the speech was extremely forced. The President also did not really go after the Democrats, aside from a few small jabs like referring to the “angry left.” The concise nature of the President’s speech has not gone unnoticed by the media, who have indicated that the McCain campaign has taken pains to distance themselves from the sitting President, who is largely unpopular amongst most Americans.
The surprise speaker of the night was Fred Thompson, not because he wasn’t scheduled, but because he was more energetic than everyone who preceded him. Thompson had some interesting lines in trying to make the case that John McCain was made up of “rebellion and honor.” Perhaps the most out of place line was when Fred Thompson explained that McCain drove a “Corvette and dated a girl who worked in a bar as an exotic dancer under the name of Marie, the Flame of Florida.” Thompson also focused a great deal of time in detailing out John McCain’s extremely painful and heroic ordeal as a POW during the Vietnam War. During these moments, the audience seemed somber, especially the many Veterans that sat in the audience.
He made several jabs towards Obama, likening him to someone who “talked a good deal on the Sunday talk shows and frequented the Washington cocktail circuit.” However, nothing was much of a surprise, it was really the typical “Obama is a talker, not a reformer” rhetoric. He also warned of the protectionism, higher taxes and expansive bureaucracy if Obama were elected and made fun of the lack of Progress made by the sitting democratically controlled congress. In some ways, it was disappointing, because I expected the Republicans to have some fresh new ideas, but this was not the case. In the same vein, while Thompson did do McCain justice by describing his character, he failed to impart why McCain’s service, would translate to being the best choice for President.
Then, it was on to the keynote speaker, Joseph Lieberman, a former Democrat turned Independent. From the get go, Lieberman failed to engage the audience, and only received applause when he uttered a positive statement about John McCain’s service. Lieberman, like Thompson, touched on McCain’s history of being a reformer and standing up to political lobbies and even in some cases taking on the Republican establishment. However, as he continued to speak, it almost seemed that McCain, the maverick, reformer etc. didn’t belong to to the Republican party, but rather that he was an Independent, running under the guise of ‘Republican’. By this point in the night, the convention hall in St. Paul seemed like a diffused balloon, as the camera panned across delegates, looking off into space or half-heartedly waving signs emblazoned with “COUNTRY FIRST” on one side. Unfortunately for Lieberman, he did not make a strong case for McCain’s run for the presidency. The only issue he touched on forcefully was the surge in Iraq, which was successful, but at a recognized cost. (See Iraq War Posts on this blog).
Overall, unlike last week, when the Democrats were able to deliver consistent and cohesive messages, the Republican party seemed to flounder. On the second night of the convention, there were no energizing speakers who appealed to the base, but rather a group of scattered speakers who failed to deliver for John McCain.
Update: In a commentary by Carl Bernstein regarding the theme of last night’s Republican convention, it seemed that he felt strongly that the subtle references to the “angry left” and continual reference to patriotism should be concerning to the Democrats because these are the same tactics that were used to elect Bush 43, in 2000 and 2004.
I agree with Bernsteins’s article because from the haunting video about American’s and service to the detailed account of John McCain’s time in a torture camp, it seems as if they were trying to put forth the notion that he was in fact more in line with “America.” However, as I noted above, the almost feverish appeal of “USA” and “COUNTRY FIRST” chants that took over the room, was eerie, since the population of the room was not representative of a modern-day America.
Here’s the article: http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/09/03/bernstein.rnc/index.html