"What?" you say. The Grand Old Party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt is the Republican Party. Well, what I'm saying is you wouldn't have known that fact listening to the speakers. The GOP, to hear people like Fred Thompson and Joe Lieberman, is not a political party at all -- the GOP IS America.
And by extension, the Democratic Party (in George W. Bush's words, "the hate-filled left") is something other than America.
Listening to last night's speakers (if, I point out frankly, you could stay awake through them) you'd get the sense that the GOP was the only group in America that was in step. You'd get the sense that it was irrelevant that 81% of Americans believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction, that it was a matter of little importance that Americans want the next Congress to be a Democratic one, or that they were entirely unconcerned that Americans have a much better of view right now of the Democratic Party than they do of the Republican Party.
George W. Bush was the first speaker of the night. He spoke from a secure distance (1,100 miles away, in the White House), and at a time when no one in America was watching anyway -- which was just fine, because he really had nothing to say.
There were, of course, moments of irony in his speech, as when he talked about what it means to be "prepared" to be President:
I know what it takes to be president. In these past eight years, I’ve sat at the resolute desk and reviewed the daily intelligence briefings, the threat assessments, and the reports from our commanders on the front lines.Yes. And, apparently, ignored them all. Like the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing titled, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike US."
And in a moment of unusual candor, he managed to articulate exactly what this election is about, and exactly why the American people have distanced themsleves from the Republican Party (my emphasis):
My fellow citizens, we live in a dangerous world and we need a president who understands the lessons of September the 11th, 2001; that to protect America, we must stay on the offense, stop attacks before they happen, and not wait to be hit again.This theme of continuing the neo-con policies of the Project for a New American Century (gone, sure, but not forgotten) of regime change, pre-emptive first strike against potential adversaries, fighting multiple wars simultaneously with small forces, and spreading "US influence" was continued throughout the evening by Fred Thompson and Joe Lieberman. And I don't think the American people are going to continue to buy it.
Fred Thompson was the second featured speaker of the evening. Honest to Gosh -- could there be a more stark contrast between these two conventions? I mean, Teddy Kennedy getting out of his hospital bed while enduring radiation therapy on his brain has more life in him than Fred Thompson.
Thompson, right out of the starting gate, took a page out of Lindsay Graham's playbook:
Listening to (Democrats) you'd think that we were in the middle of a Great Depression; that we are down, disrespected and incapable of prevailing against challenges facing us.Americans are concerned about the economy, Fred, not just Democrats. It's the biggest problem on their minds right now, for better or for worse. And we are NOT respected around the world right now, not even by our allies.
The rest of Thompson's speech was fairly militaristic bordering on jingoistic, including a bold claim that John McCain would be
A president who feels no need to apologize for the United States of America.Even when we invade a country who never attacked us, never colluded with al Qa'ida, and was not in possession of the weapons we claimed they had? Well, the Republicans were all denying it last noght, but sure sounds to me like a continuation of the neo-con attitudes of the last eight years.
The yawner of the night, of course, was Joe Lieberman.
Again the contrast between the Democratic and Republican speakers could not have been more stark, and really symbolic of the differences between these two parties, as well as the differences between the US of the past and of today.
Here's where the seperation between the GOP and the Republicans became most pronounced.
Well, I'll tell you what. I'm here to support John McCain because country matters more than party.Yes. Forget about the damned party, will you? It's McCain. The GOP = John McCain, and John McCain = America. That was the logic of the rhetoric of last night's really boring orations (and I use that word in its most excruciatingly painful sense). The GOP doesn't want to associate with the Republican Party, and they don't want John McCain's name associated with the Republican Party. In the marketing lingo that has become so much the vogue these days, "Republican" is a damaged brand, and the GOP is doing everything in its power to distance itself from that brand.
McCain is not "branded" with this damaged Republican brand, like the outgoing (soon, please God) President, George W. Bush -- and his entire administration. No, John McCain, is his own man, a "maverick," a man so principled that he puts his country before his party, before his own self-interest, and certainly before special interests. O)r as Lieberman said:
Well, you be the judge. Let's not forget that the last time a natural disaster of this sort struck, John McCain was a thousand miles away, celebrating his 69th birthday with George W. Bush. So "country first" seems not to a Kantian categorical imperative, at the very least. But in fact, a McCain Presidency would:
You know John, and you know that he understands that it shouldn't take a natural disaster like a hurricane to get us to take off our partisan blinders and work together to get things done. It shouldn't take a natural disaster to teach us that the American people really don't care much if you have an R or a D after your name. What they care about is, are we solving the problems that they're against every day?
Let me tell you, what you can expect from John McCain as president is precisely what he's done this week: put our country first.
- Bail out banks and lenders, but not families whose mortgages were forclosed upon.
- Cut rather than raise corporate income taxes, and maintain the Bush "tax cuts," which have benefitted the wealthiest 5% of Americans.
- Refuse to remove tax subsidies for US corporations that outsource jobs to other nations.
- Make it more difficult to file personal bankruptcy.
- Leave the decision to teach "creationism" as sicence to local school districts.
- Protect $11 billion dollars annually in corporate tax loopholes that might instead go to education.
- Provide $75 million for "abstinence education."
- Return the US to unsafe, toxic, and deadly nuclear energy.
- Refuse to increase funding for Veterans' healthcare.
- Support corporate polluters' interests before the common good of environmental protection.
And on, and on, and on. Stay tuned for tomorrow's address by Sarah Palin.
(NOTE: I am filing this a day late. Frankly, the combined effects of listening to Bush, Thompson and Lieberman on one night in one sitting put me soundly to sleep.)