Looking at themselves
A political convention can often be a contest between reality and fantasy. It is a rare day that the fantasy overcomes the reality.
Conservatives have been in power for so long and dominated the media for so long, they think they're just going to sweep into office again.
It is amazing to see so many people praise Zell Miller's disasterous speech. They think his series of lies was a great speech. Well, the media recoiled like a Grand Canyon hiker from a rattlesnake. And John McCain couldn't back away fast enough. To both E.J. Dionne and Jon Stewart, he threw up his hands and said "hey, I told them not to do this". He even compared the Miller speech to Buchanan's 1992 speech, but said it was worse. Even the Bushes toss Miller aside.
If conventions reflect their leaders, the world stopped on September 12, 2001. The speeches harked back to the days of common unity, but with a nasty twist.
The problem was that in three days, four different breaches of security were seen, LIVE, on TV. Now the secret service said no one had weapons, but that's a fucking joke. A gun could have been hidden, moved to avoid searches and replaced for a month. These people got inside and no one knows how. With help, someone could have easily brought a gun into the Garden.
The breach of security was so complete, so gross, that admitting it should lead to the firing of the head of the secret service.
While the right is saying "Kerry is toast" and the faint of heart wish Howard Dean hadn't self-immolated, the fact is that Kerry stands a much better chance of winning than Clinton did in 1992. He's got money, millions of active dems working to elect him, and Karl Rove. Not to mention Bush's bad luck.
On a day which should have been covering Bush's post-convention swing, we've seen more of Jeb Bush and Hurricane Frances, then the disasterous raid on the Chechen school. Once again, events have conspired to work against Bush.
Besides, Bush's campaign has been off their game. Focusing on Vietnam, which is building into a nasty backlash for Bush. It's a quiet thing, but I think a key mistake was mocking Kerry's Purple Hearts. I think a lot of people were offended, but that could only happen when people are looking inward. The GOP is now an inward looking party.
Now, this is a disaster in the making. Bush's personality isn't enough here. With it's vulgar appeals to theocracy and it's harsh, macho rhetoric, as the media dissects it over the next week, the scale of the disaster will be seen. The GOP doesn't see it any more than the Dems saw Reagan in 1980. They ridiculed him until it was election day and then he won.
And while a lot of Dems want Kerry to lash out, he has to be careful and time his attacks right. One thing which the Dems haven't done, and have to, from the blogs to campaign talking points, is create the sense of inevitability of Bush's defeat.
Between the investigations and the failures in Iraq, something will break to the point that the perennially unlucky Bush will be seen as the clear loser.
The GOP no longer bothers to talk to those who don't abide by every tenent of their ideology. They even shut aside apostates like gays and pro-cnoice Republicans. Rove may think he's going to get 4m evangelical votes, but with their anti-gay agenda, besides those with other issues like Ed Koch, they're going to lose those 1m gays who voted for Bush and maybe another couple of million moderate Republican women.
As Bill Schnider said, no presidential election has ever been won by turning out your base. If Rove pulls it off, he's a genius, but personally, I think he's so far over his head he's drowning. He's never managed an incumbent's campaign before, and his inability to create a coherent defense for Bush's record is showing.
He could have argued that Saddam was a destabilizing force, the problems in the economy were from the crash, and that the spending was due to the war. None of those arguments were made. Now, you can shred them, but exploiting the dead of 9/11 makes a lot of people angry. Now New York may not be in play, but New York money certainly is. And a lot of people who might have remained silent may well kick in to the DNC and other Democratic campaigns.
He's had to wage a high risk gambit on using Vietnam against Kerry, and is now facing a backlash. They can deny Ben Barnes admissions if they want, but the portrait of Bush in his 20's is seeing daylight and it's an ugly picture.
Rove wants to attack without pause, and Kerry can and will deal with that. Because when he puts Bush on the defensive, and my Cheney has been real quiet after being called a draft dodger, Bush hasn't set the ground to actually challenge Kerry. Vietnam is not that ground, no matter how many bitter liars they dig up.
And if anyone doesn't think that the Swift Boat lies didn't come from Rove's shop, just listen to the vetted speech of Zell Miller. It's the same technique, but with different words. They think they can lie about Kerry and those lies will define him. But the press isn't playing along.
In the last four years, the press has grown to hate Bush. He treats them poorly and they see his character up close, and it's not usually pretty. So the lies now get challenged. Part of this is Bush hate, part of this is a realization they were played by the Administration over Iraq. They know they failed and they won't do it twice.
Yet, the smug, self-satisfied GOP delegates seemed oblivious to how their actions looked on TV to most Americans. The insult of the band-aids, the silliness of the flip flops, the security breeches. All bad.
But while McCain backed away from Miller like he was a carrier deck fire, he doesn't admit the gaffe he made in attacking Michael Moore. Conservatives are totally flummoxed by the film and it's widespread distribution. Not just in theaters, but online and bootlegs as well. Go to 125th Street or Canal Street and every vendor is selling it and it's selling well. Instead of ignoring it, and him, they rage against it without refuting any one of it's central claims. It's an ugly picture of Bush's America, but one the conservatives cannot reply to effectively. And relying on hack Lionel Chetwynd to do the same is shaky at best.
Moore is the average guy. You can't make him into the enemy and he sucks down attention like a black hole sucks down light. Giving him more attention is silly and self-defeating.
Which would describe the RNC Hatefest in full.
posted by Steve @ 3:20:00 AM