Republican National Convention LiveRetroblogging

I’d intended to liveblog some of the RNC Convention speeches as I had done for those of the Obamas and Hillary Clinton. But, owing to various causes, I was never in front of my laptop when the speakers were on the stage. The good news is that I heard most of them on the radio in real time, and came up with a mental list of witty and/or insightful comments for each. The bad news is that I am old and have since forgotten all of those observations, except for a vague notion that I had some killer joke involving Guillani and a bicycle with no seat.

Oh well. You know what they say: Lack of anything worth saying is the soul of blog.

Bush

Too dumb; didn’t watch.

Romney

Sweet baby corn, can this guy deliver a speech or what? The “substance” of his tirade was laughable (Washington is a hotbed of liberalism in need of a McCain-Palin napalming), but few can spoon out the flummery with such aplomb. The crowd also did a good job of pretending like they believed a word of it, except when Romney said “it’s time for the party of big ideas, not the party of Big Brother” and there was a momentary silence while everyone was, like, “wtf dude, I thought you were on our side …?”

Huckabee

Okay, confession time: I kind of like Huckabee. I mean, I like him the same way I like America’s Funniest Home Videos: fun to watch, but I’m glad I’m not the one getting a golf ball to the nuts. Were he ever elected president I would immediately pack up the family and move to Mimas.

Still, for all the right likes to espouse religion when it’s politically expedient, Huckabee strikes me as the real deal. He’s staunchly anti-abortion and anti-gay as you would expect, but also pro-environment (because God entrusted us with the stewardship of the Earth, he says), opposed to the death penalty in principle, and adopted a populism platform in the primaries that seemed to arise from genuine concern with poverty. I like that his positions seem to stem from a consistent philosophical framework, even though I think that framework is dead wrong. Better than those politicians that just adopt whatever position they think will help them win. (This is also why I liked Ron Paul, another candidate I swooned over specifically because there was zero chance that he would actually become president.)

Unfortunately, this was very much a standard convention speech, part of an orchestrated campaign to steal the “change” theme from the Democrats. Two fantastic lines, though. First, “I’m not a Republican because I grew up rich, but because I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life poor, waiting for the government to rescue me.” The second line, “[Palin] got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, than Joe Biden got running for president of the United States!” actually made me laugh out loud in my car (and I was genuinely disappointed to later learn that it was a categorically false statement–so sad).

Also:

Most of us -- most of us can lift our arms high in the air so that we can signify when we want something. [McCain] can't even lift his arms to his shoulder, which is a constant reminder that his life is marked not by what he's wanting to receive, but rather by what he has already given.

Oh man, so clumsy. Nice metaphor guys, but that one could have used a few more hours in rewrite.

Palin

Sarah Palin addresses the 2008 Republican Convention

I really had no strong opinions on Palin going into her speech. Afterward, I continued to have no strong opinions. Why? Because it seemed obvious to me that there wasn’t a trace of Palin in there. It was clearly written for her–frankly, given the short amount of time that had elapsed since the announcement, and the whirlwind of publicity that Palin had endured thereafter, I don’t know that she could have written her own material even had she wanted to.

But while I have no strong opinions on Palin, I do have one grave concern: that she is simply going to serve as an empty vessel into which McCain–or, rather, the McCain campaign–can just pour slogans and bromides. You know, like Chemo.

By the way, I managed to get annotated draft of the speech in which several analogies were considered and discarded before it was decided to compare Palin and “a pitbull with lipstick”. Here were some of the others:

  • A shih tzu with a hairdo
  • A malamute with a manicure
  • A ferret with a frock
  • A gecko with glasses
  • A penguin with a pregnant daughter
  • A capybara with an assault rifle
  • A platypus with a bone spur inside of each hind limb which can squirt poison–true fact, look it up
  • A kitten with a LOLCAT caption
  • A polar bear with no need for endangered species protection
  • A crazy person on the street corner holding a REPENT sign

 
McCain

I used to like and admire McCain. In fact, I’m one of those people who would have loved a Kerry/McCain ticket in 2004 (or, to be honest, a Democrat-Who-Was-Not-Kerry/McCain ticket). I appreciated his willingness to buck his own party, and agreed with him on many of the issues (especially his drive for campaign finance reform, opposition to torture, and rejection of the Bush tax cuts for the affluent). You know, back when he was a maverick.

Sadly, in the primary McCain took out more mortgages on his reputation as a reformer than he has on his nine houses. (Oh ZING! You can totally use that one.) So in February, when he finally caved on waterboarding, it was like the final scene in a Shakespearean tragedy. Or perhaps the final installment in a Lucas trilogy, as he joined the ranks of other honorable Republicans who pulled an Anakin. (Powell was another.)

Well, you could argue, all politicians do this: tack to the extremes during the primaries and then head for the center as the general election looms. Obama himself has reversed himself on a number positions, including public campaign funding, the FISA bill (for shame, Senator), and, today, 527s. That’s bad, no doubt about it. But reversing yourself on your signature issues (all of them!) is something else entirely. McCain’s reliance on lobbyists to run his campaign, and his gaming of FEC funding rules, for instance, is diametrically opposed to his past advocacy for campaign finance reform, the issue for which he is the most well-known.

Anyway.

McCain’s acceptance speech was, above all else, boring. Too long, too biographical, and waaaaay too derivative of the Democrats message of change. (Seriously, even Biden didn’t plagiarize like this. Curious how the “party of big ideas”, as Romney dubbed it, can’t cough up with a campaign slogan that hasn’t in the barackobama.com metadata for the last eight months.)

Not that boring is bad–after eight years of Bush’s recklessness, a little boring might be just what the doctor ordered. But, unfortunately, this speech wasn’t “omg policy details zzzzzzzz” boring, but “omg is there anything in here that’s not a platitude or a self-administered back-pat?” boring. Opening call for civility in the campaign, check. Lauding of the running mate, check. Laundry list of things he’s done right in his career, check. The ceremonial calling-out of people placed in the audience and reciting their heart-warming and/or point-illustrating anecdotes, check. Subtle allusion to his time as a POW, check (albeit one followed, three minutes later, by a ten minute recounting of his time as a POW, for those who missed the earlier reference).

So, here’s the good stuff:

I know how the military works, what it can do, what it can do better, and what it shouldn't do. I know how the world works. I know the good and the evil in it.

I know how to work with leaders who share our dreams of a freer, safer and more prosperous world, and how to stand up to those who don't.

I know how to secure the peace ...

I'm running for president to keep the country I love safe and prevent other families from risking their loved ones in war as my family has. I will draw on all my experience with the world and its leaders, and all the tools at our disposal -- diplomatic, economic, military, and the power of our ideals -- to build the foundations for a stable and enduring peace...

Again and again I've worked with members of both parties to fix problems that need to be fixed. That's how I will govern as president. I will reach out my hand to anyone to help me get this country moving again.

This passage appears about two-thirds of the way through McCain’s speech, and is immediately followed by the POW stuff. In journalism, that’s called “burying the lede.” Experience is McCain’s most compelling argument, and why they chose to give it only perfunctory mention is beyond me. Maybe this only sells to people like me, for whom Obama’s lack of experience is a genuine concern. Maybe they’ve determined that the base and the Independents are going to vote based on biography, and so that’s what they are going to emphasize from here on out. I don’t pretend to know.

Overall McCain’s speech, while dull, succeeded in reassuring me that a McCain presidency wouldn’t be a disaster. But it did nothing to convince me that such a scenario will ever come to pass. Even in the face of McCain’s bounce, I still think Barack has this election in the bag.

 

* * *

40 comments.

  1. At the risk of sounding terrified (too late, thank you for that last graphic.

  2. “… I still think Barack has this election in the bag.”

    I’d like to think so. He is by far better prepared and more willing to implement the kind of change in direction this country (and the world) desperately needs.

    But…

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/110143/Gallup-Daily-McCain-Maintains-5Point-Lead.aspx

    This is terrifying to me. HOW? How come the electorate will even think of voting for a continued Republican rule after the last 8 years? And this Palin lady? Jeez! If McCain dies – which, you know, is sort of likely – she is what we get? Really? People like that?

    I can only think that they are terrified of “the left” (as if that existed for real in the US).

    I’m scared. I want to chill out and believe he’s got it. But I’m scared.

    Last presidential election I got literally sick – ended up in a hospital, fever and all – when I realized there would be 4 more years of this crap. What will happen to me this time around I really don’t know… Coma maybe?

    BTW: I’m not a democrat. I would gladly vote republican if I thought they would do a better job. I don’t think so.

  3. I’m trying to chill out, but I’m worried.

  4. Even in the face of McCain’s bounce, I still think Barack has this election in the bag.

    From your lips to God’s ears. I’m freaking out over here.

  5. Awesome post. Love your blog; thanks for writing!

  6. I have been pacing the floors waiting for your opine on the past few days– I am really hoping that Obama has it “”in the bag” otherwise I might have to jump off my roof. Lucky for me it’s a tiny one story. Thanks for posting.

    (and after freaking out it really helps to do something constructive, like volunteering to help sign up people to vote)

  7. Don’t worry, me and this Palin cunt are gonna have words. Serious words. Dig?

    Peace. Out.

  8. Love what you have to say but I’m still worried, too. I hear too many of my parent’s elderly friends running around talking smack about Obama. And that has me freakin’ the hell out. These are the people who do not miss an election.

  9. I hope you’re right.

  10. Good post…

    Lying in bed this a.m., not quite awake, NPR’s coverage of Obama infiltrated my dreams. I couldn’t make sense of the words, and it was like listening to the adult voices in a ‘Peanuts’ special… (“wanh-whanh-wanh-wanh-wanh”) And I thought to myself, as my frontal lobes started their slow boot-up sequence, “How has this happened? How has Obama become so boring that he makes someone as moribund as McCain seem lively?”

    Though I know it’s antithetical to his nature, Obama needs to lose the nuance, the long overly thoughtful answers, and start hammering away at some key points… and he needs to start modulating his voice when he does it.

    My $0.02

  11. Don’t quit your day job … yet! But as you get more into political commentary and continue to be hilarious in the process, well, that’s a great combination.

    The “pitbull with lipstick” outtakes were awesomely funny. I was physically unable to read the whole list to my wife – every time I tried to say the platypus one, I laughed so hard I couldn’t talk.

    If you could get this quoted like on the front page of USA Today, Palin would be done for.

  12. Is it just me or does Palin sound very much like Dana Carvey’s Church Lady? Someone needs to run with that…

  13. I am surprised to read that you think you’d probably be OK with a McCain presidency. As he showed in his reaction to the Russia-Georgia conflict, he takes a hothead’s approach to foreign policy (if he’d been president, we’d have yet another war on our hands). He is a hothead, actually, just generally: the Palin choice was impulsive, reckless, and ill-prepared. His favorite Justices are the most extreme on the bench, so the inevitable replacements for Stevens (c’mon, the guy will be coming up on his 89th birthday after the inauguration; you know he’s just been holding on hoping for someone sane in 2009) will be right-wing ideologues who will havea deleterious effect on our lives and those of our children for decades to come. He has no understanding at all of or interest in economic issues, and has had no ideas for how to turn our economic downturn around.

    I’m not sure but what you’re still thinking he’s the maverick of the past, even though you acknowledge his utter reversal on everything he’s ever professed to believe in in the past. Don’t be fooled.

  14. Funny stuff. Scary, but funny. For my part, I find nothing acceptable about the idea of a McCain presidency, but I’m glad you’re reassured, and I tend to share your view that it’s just not going to happen.

    An interesting follow-up, though – part of why McCain’s famous temper isn’t being covered more is that some of it is unreportable (to coin a word) in the MSM. They can’t print words he uses. I’d like to see more attention to it, though. I can’t imagine this guy being the face of the US internationally.

    Check this out:
    http://rawstory.com/news/2008/McCain_temper_boiled_over_in_92_0407.html

  15. McCain is probably leaning away from the POW emphasis because more and more people are learning that he went so far beyond “name, rank, and serial number” that he became an outright traitor to his country. He gave away everything he knew about aircraft carrier positions, numbers of planes and troops, and operational procedures. He also participated in the filming of propaganda films aimed at our troops. He is not now and never was a hero and he should never have gotten this nomination.

  16. @Doc

    You honestly think McCain had aircraft carrier positions that were relevant a year after his capture, virtually ALL POWs will eventually release some piece of information. How do you know what McCain revealed had any worth, especially a year after his capture. He was captured in Oct ’67, he broke in Aug ’68

  17. Thanks for the reasonable words – “Overall McCain’s speech, while dull, succeeded in reassuring me that a McCain presidency wouldn’t be a disaster.”

    If more folks on both sides could acknowledge with civility that it won’t be the end of the world if their “team” loses, we’d all be much better off. And we’d have lower health care costs WRT the commentators above having collective coronary attacks (or literal coronary attacks. Seriously, dude above wants universal health care but goes to the hospital when his fav politician loses? WTF?).

    Bob Barr ’08

  18. Up here in Canada, where I’m hoping that our own Conservative government isn’t able to win a majority on October 14th, most sane Canadians hope that Obama will win in November. Based on the 2000 and 2004 elections, though, even if he wins, will he really become president? The exit poll discrepency in 2004 was so amazingly off the mark that the mainstream media should have cried in outrage, but they just rolled over and took it, and the Republicans chalked up anyone who did complain as “conspiracy theorists” (same as those that wonder why WTC Building 7 collapsed).

    To quote Rolling Stone Magazine:

    ”Exit polls are almost never wrong,” Dick Morris, a political consultant who has worked for both Republicans and Democrats, noted after the 2004 vote. Such surveys are ”so reliable,” he added, ”that they are used as guides to the relative honesty of elections in Third World countries.” In 2003, vote tampering revealed by exit polling in the Republic of Georgia forced Eduard Shevardnadze to step down. And in November 2004, exit polling in the Ukraine — paid for by the Bush administration — exposed election fraud that denied Viktor Yushchenko the presidency.
    http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/10432334/was_the_2004_election_stolen

    Your confidence in Obama is reassuring, though. Good luck!

  19. >I still think Barack has this election in the bag.

    You don’t leave your bubble much, do you? I guess it’s easier that way.

  20. “A capybara with an assault rifle”

    marry me.

  21. People who look at the nationwide poll and see something that looks like a close race don’t have a clue about how the U.S. Presidential race works. “Electoral Map.” Look it up.

  22. By my count:

    Two people are terrified (one of whom was hospitalized after the 2004 election)…

    Several are hopeful…

    One is worried and another is freaking out…

    One is both worried AND freaked out…

    One was pacing the floors waiting to hear the opinion of a blogger (Pot, Kettle, Black on this one. I’ve favorited this site on OTHER PEOPLE’S COMPUTERS)…

    One has oratorical advice for Barack Obama…

    And one wonders how someone who is so blatantly liberal can be cool with the idea of a McCain Presidency when John McCain is just as “war, war, war” as Dick Cheney…

    Jesus Christ and the Tinfoil Hat/Hanoi John crowd also weighed in…

    But only one person so far has mentioned that if you want Barack Obama to be elected as the next POTUS, you should stop worrying, stop freaking out, stop being scared, stop pacing, stop hoping (or rather stop JUST hoping) and start volunteering, phone banking, and registering and mobilizing voters. This campaign isn’t about McCain, Obama, Palin, Biden, lipstick, pigs, PUMAs, or Bridges to Nowhere. This campaign is about us, our economy, our foreign policy, our environment, our standing in the world, and our legacy to future generations. Team Obama has harnessed the power of the internet Al Gore never claimed to have invented. They have made it easier than ever before to impact this election without even leaving your house. Coach is looking at YOU. This is your moment. Stop sitting on the bench, wondering if you’ll get to play once the outcome is no longer in doubt. Stop sitting in the stands, wondering if cheering or booing really impacts the outcome; GET IN THE GAME.

  23. I keep thinking there’s no way that McCain could possibly win this election, but my cynical nature tends not to hold much faith in the majority of US voters, so I’m steeling myself for a McCain win. McCain scares me, but Palin scares me even more than he does. I’m so very happy that Samantha Bee seems to have made Palin’s anti-choice stance her personal issue to hammer on, but sadly, I think all those shows that make salient points about how horrible a McCain/Palin administration would be to American education and society in general are preaching to the choir.

    All that aside, though, I would like people to maintain a veneer of civility and not call Palin a cunt! :o

  24. Run, Sarah, Run! Obama doesn’t have a clue how to deal with her and now he is stepping in the Left’s own pile of PC bullshit. See, the Left has so many rules and sensibilities that they really can’t avoid violating their own rules of conduct. Look what happened in Denver when they dithered around trying to make the whole thing the greenest convention ever. For God’s sake, they specified the colors of the food that had to be available! So The One trots out his “lipstick on a pig” line, one he has used hundred’s of times, and his opponents hold his feet to the fire. Why shouldn’t they? It’s called being “hoist by his own petard”. What the hell is a petard anyway? A pet with a learning disability? See, that’s un-PC right there, that is.

  25. Just goes to show you should bet on people being stupid, it usually pays off.

  26. As H.L. Mencken famously said, “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” They didn’t call him the Sage of Baltimore for nothin’.

  27. “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” — H. L. Mencken

    He was either talking about elections or anal. Hard to figure out these days.

  28. Weird, this must be an older outline of her speech than the one you saw. Talking points memo:
    My fellow republicans and racist independents, my down-home-iness is so damn cute that you will love me,
    I’m going to put the class back into class warfare,
    I’m so folksy that you will laugh like crazy while you get poorer,
    We will make you cry with the beauty of our encomiums to war while our young men continue to die and Haliburton continues to profit.
    I’m proud of America no matter what we do because we’re always right…. right, right, right, right — well maybe not slavery and Japanese Internment camps — but we rocked the house at Abu Graib. U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A!

    Oh, and note to self: compare hockey moms to Grendel with a push-up bra.

  29. A McCain presidency wouldn’t be a disaster? Even though he’s a thorough-going misogynist with an anger problem, a memory problem, and a truth problem?

    Let alone the fact that he’d be likely to kick off and leave Palin (ugh) in the top spot.

  30. “A McCain presidency wouldn’t be a disaster? Even though he’s a thorough-going misogynist”

    Hey, so was Mencken! It’s just a shame that women (ugly or otherwise), homosexuals, blacks and jews have to even exist. We’re ruining everything. Damn us, damn us, damn us.

  31. Ooo! How about Sweetums in fishnets?

  32. http://www.electoral-vote.com/

  33. We’ve seen it before, we’re seeing it again. The country is a big place, and there are lot of people who’s values don’t align in lockstep with the coastal blues.

    Leftist condescension plays well at home but it doesn’t win elections.

    Obama may yet win, but it’s not “in the bag”.

  34. Does not knowing the Bush Doctrine count as “folksy”? Seriously, I’ll take leftist condescension, since that usually implies there’s a brain stem attached. There’s nothing above Sarah Palin’s neck worth voting for. I know boxes of bricks with more foreign policy acumen.

    I think if you’re running for VP and you don’t know what the Bush Doctrine is, you’re fucking stupid. Do not pass “Go”, do not collect $200.

    I’m sure thoughtful conservatives, indepedents, and people not wanting the US to turn into a nuclear wasteland will reconsider their Red State loyalties.

    She’s a doofus with tits.

  35. But Bill, Jesus will return when the nuclear wasteland comes…and we’ll all be raptured up, unless your values tell you that’s incorrect of course. You should really stop cluttering up your world view with facts.

  36. Christ, even I know more about the Bush Doctrine than that Palin character. Humanity has had their day, it’s time for the cute little kittens to take the reins of power.

  37. Oh, you’ve inspired me! What this campaign season neds is LOLPalins. I CAN HAS WHITE HOUSE?

  38. Brilliant.

    And here I am writing about dead celebrities, Pirate holidays.

    I am pathetic.

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