August 31, 2004

Day 1 of the Republican Convention

Now New York construction workers are very special people. I'm sure this is true all over but I know the ones here the best. They were real heroes along with many others that day, volunteering immediately. And they're big, real big. Their arms are bigger than my legs and their opinions are even bigger than their arms.

Now each one of them would engage the President and I imagine like his cabinet give him advice. They were advising him in their own words on exactly what he should do with the terrorists. Of course I can't repeat their exact language.

But one of them really went into great detail and upon conclusion of his remarks President Bush said in a rather loud voice, "I agree."

At this point the guy just beamed and all his buddies turned toward him in amazement.

The guy just lost it.

So he reached over, embraced the President and began hugging him enthusiastically.

Rudy Giuliani, speaking last night at the Republican convention.

"I agree."

How simple; how unpretentious, how natural.

Imagine John Kerry speaking to those construction workers ("I have been to Kabul" he might have begun...).

Good stuff this. Reminds me of something I had written a while back re: Bush's first trip to Ground Zero.

Giuliani's speech was devastatingly effective on many levels. He reminded us how reassured we all were to have a seasoned national security team at the helm on 9/11 ("Thank God George Bush is our President" he spontaneously told Bernie Kerrick that horrific day). He discussed the real perils of appeasement--describing a pervasive pattern of inaction towards terror from the 70s on through the giddy, empty '90s. And, perhaps most damning, he detailed, in pretty non-polemical fashion (ever so cooly sticking in and turning the stiletto knife), his concerns about Kerry's flip-floppy nature:

John Kerry has no such clear, precise and consistent vision. This is not a personal criticism of John Kerry. I respect him for his service to our nation. But it is important to see the contrast in approach between the two men; President Bush, a leader who is willing to stick with difficult decisions even as public opinion shifts, and John Kerry, whose record in elected office suggests a man who changes his position often even on important issues....Yes, people in public office at times do change their minds, I've done that, or they realize they are wrong or circumstances change. But John Kerry has made it the rule to change his position, rather than the exception.

Well, he has, hasn't he? Doesn't this matter? And isn't it fair to point it out and cogitate over it? No, all this doesn't settle any complex policy debates or such as Sully indicates.

But, with a Day 1 round-up of people like McCain and Giuliani (compared to a Day 1 of Carter and Gore)--I think the Republicans had a pretty good first night.

Make no mistake--it's Kerry that's in trouble more than Bush right now. He's lost ground in the polls, hasn't found an overarching message (except that he's not Bush; which isn't good enough), seems pretty lifeless on the stump. He got no big Boston bounce, didn't hit back on the Swift Boat ads (whatever you think of them--you don't just stand and take punches like that--especially when they are landing fast and furious), and has no real alternate policy prescriptions on the big foreign policy issues of the day (Iraq, Iran, NoKo, Middle East peace process).

Further, Bush is not likely to derive false comfort from any prospective lead going forward. He'll fight real hard through the eve of the election--even if he develops a 10+ point lead between now and November. He's not the type to sit back and rest on his laurels.

Advantage incumbent.

Posted by Gregory at August 31, 2004 02:18 PM

Wow. What a great night of television.

You know that they're hitting home-runs when no-one dares to cut-away inbetween speeches.

And let's not forget Mr. Silver's outstanding opening. If only someone had been broadcasting to the throng outside on a large jumbo-tron.

ANd then there was:
"Ah, but he must have heard you"

Game over.

Posted by: Tommy G at August 31, 2004 08:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I noticed that when Rudy was giving his litany of appeasement and non-response to terrorist aggression he left out perhaps the most egregious incident of this kind - the terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon in 1983 that killed 241 US Marines. (You could also mention the bombing of the US embassy in Beirut several months earlier that killed more than 60 people including the Middle East CIA director)

What was Reagan's response? He "cut and ran." He removed the troops almost immediately. Appeasing the terrorists, and giving them exactly what they wanted.

Norman Podhoretz (not a liberal by any stretch of the imagination) has this to add in the new issue of Commentary: "Having cut and run in Lebanon in October, Reagan again remained passive in December, when the American embassy in Kuwait was bombed."

Here is a press account from that time:

"The president assembled his national security team to devise a plan of military action. The planned target was the Sheik Abdullah barracks in Baalbek, Lebanon, which housed Iranian Revolutionary Guards believed to be training Hezbollah fighters. Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger aborted the mission, reportedly because of his concerns that it would harm US relations with other Arab nations. Instead, President Reagan ordered the battleship USS New Jersey, stationed off the coast of Lebanon, to the hills near Beirut. The move was seen as largely ineffective. Four months after the Marine barracks bombing, US Marines were ordered to start pulling out of Lebanon."

Do you think Rudy forgot?

Posted by: Eric Martin at August 31, 2004 08:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

In fairness, no he did not forget. He neglected to mention.

As he ramped up, I began to anticipate, and wondered how he was going to work it in. Love-15, my friend.

Well, 15 All, actually, Eric. "Ah, but he must have heard you" was definately in-bounds, not?

Posted by: Tommy G at August 31, 2004 08:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm not saying he didn't score any points. He definitely did. The speech was a bit long, and rambling at times, and I thought it was a tad shameless in its evocations of 9/11, but it was effective nevertheless. Rudy is a great brand to have in your corner. Ditto McCain.

Posted by: Eric Martin at August 31, 2004 08:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Agreed. I don't know what that is about - the lot of people that thought that it was exactly right.

Good speech, but it screamed for an editor. Would you not have ended it shortly after the great self-effacing anecdote?

Cut everything after "You're through, Guilliani" except the last 2 minutes.

Look - I'm of the faithful, and love a rippin' great tale, but when I start to fidget in my seat, your speech is too long.

Posted by: Tommy G at August 31, 2004 11:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


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