August 31, 2004


* It took this first night of the GOP convention to drive home how oddly silent the Democrats were about 9-11--the singular moment in our recent history.

* The 9-11 effect is aided greatly by the NYC locale, obviously, for which the GOP has Terry MacAuliffe to thank.

* Speaking of whom, his complaints over the delegates who are wearing band-aids with purple hearts on them only calls attention to a funny shot at Senator Kerry that would have been ignored otherwise.

* As Senator McCain was speaking you couldn't help thinking how inadequate he--or Al Gore--would have been to the task of summoning the nation after 9-11. Of our recent presidents--and near misses--only Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have been up to such an oratorical occasion. To his credit though, Mr. McCain's closing paragraphs were stirring.

* These were the GOP's moderates.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 31, 2004 12:00 AM

I had not seen Giulani speak before. He's very good when in relaxed, funster mode, and not quite believable when trying to be passionately serious. His best moments were the 14-Sep story-telling. As a whole, fairly uneven.

Posted by: Jorge Curioso at August 31, 2004 12:52 AM

In no particular order:

** The musically-segued choral hymns of the five service branches (remember the Coast Guard) combined with the visual montage of those branches in action brought tears to my eyes.

** The three women related to September 11 dead struck a perfect tone, particularly the sister of the American Airlines pilot, who thanked America for support, and the widow of the firefighter who closed with the story of her son leaving for Iraq at year end. Not a 'victim' among them, thank goodness.

** I didn't have a good vibe when the Iraqi woman walked out, expecting a PC lovefest. Thankfully, I was wrong. She was good because she was modest. All she asked for was freedom. Thanking the Americans and Iraqis who died and were wounded was a necessary and nice touch.

** Ron Silver lit it up. The intensity was cranked way up, but balanced by the brevity of the speech. His shot at the fellow travelers in Hollywood wasn't bad, either.

** I don't get the McCain obsession. Did like the shot at Michael Moore, though. Especially coming from Mr. Credibility.

** Giuliani was brilliant. I am not a fan of his. But I appreciated his 'brief' in support of Bush's foreign policy. It was thematic, it used evidence to make a point instead of scoring a point, and it was coherent.

** I caught a little MSNBC post-speech coverage with Ron Reagan and Ron Silver on the panel. Ron Reagan is an embarassment. I hope Ronald Reagan was strapped into his coffin; otherwise, our deceased President is spinning as I write. Ron Silver was amusing. He persistently shredded Reagan fils' logic.

oj: I have 'seen' President Bush's acceptance speech. You will like it. How, you ask, have I seen it? Because I have seen several Bush campaign stops in the last week on CSPAN (West Virginia and Michigan come to mind). Bush is clearly refining his acceptance speech. Giuliani's theme about free and democratic nations not exporting terrorism adumbrates what Bush will say at the convention (and was saying at these campaign stops). The opportunity society has (and will at the convention) be front and center. Bush's crowds, by the way, were large and stoked (sorry, a Del Mar surf term that perfectly captures what I saw on television).

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at August 31, 2004 1:46 AM

Let's remind people, now especially, that the City of New York pleaded with both parties to hold their conventions there -- and the Democrats refused because they wanted an "exclusive."

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at August 31, 2004 4:52 AM

*curses the 5-hour time difference*

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at August 31, 2004 6:01 AM

Like you OJ, I find the Dem criticism that Repubs "politicized" 9/11 to be extremely disturbing and disingenuous. Was FDR also politicizing Pearl Harbor in using it to adopt new more aggressive policies? I find as time passes that those who didn't have a "wake up and smell the coffee" moment on 9/11 don't have much to say that I care to hear. This election, I've thought for a couple of years now, boils down to a referendum on that single issue.

Posted by: Jeff Brokaw at August 31, 2004 7:43 AM

Giuliani was brilliant. He was multi-themed and so summoned several emotions at different times, that might have impressed some as "uneven." I thought it one of the best Republican orations I have ever heard.

Posted by: Jim Gooding at August 31, 2004 7:48 AM

Andrew Sullivan's blog this morning illustrates exactly what the Republicans were attempting to do last night, and how well they succeeded.

Posted by: David Cohen at August 31, 2004 8:06 AM

Is Sullivan off the crazy pills yet?

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at August 31, 2004 8:08 AM


That'll wait until someone says you shouldn't be able to wed your goldfish--then he'll go ballistic.

Posted by: oj at August 31, 2004 8:35 AM

David -

Thanks for doing the reading of Sullivan's blog and letting us know when it was safe to take a look. You may now take off the C-Zone clothing and hang up the respirator and oxygen tank, with our gratitude....

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at August 31, 2004 8:41 AM

Couple of other thoughts:

-- McCain was flat, except at the end, but that "I salute him" line was a sharp dig at Kerry.

-- Who didn't love Rudy's slap at the Germans?

-- Rudy made two clear pitches for the Jewish vote. I hope it works.

-- The use of the 911 women was brilliant, particularly not having them mention the president.

-- Last night, listening to Amazing Grace, I teared up, and then, listening to NPR, I teared up again this morning.

-- NPR's coverage this morning was straight-forward and allowed the message to come through more or less intact. That, too, is a benefit of having McCain and Giuliani go first.

-- David Brooks was honest last night in admitting, on PBS, that he probably liked John McCain as much as anyone, including Cindy McCain.

-- Good crowd shots. Not nearly as snarky as in 2000. Who is controlling the cameras?

Posted by: David Cohen at August 31, 2004 8:50 AM

More for the Kristol McCain substitution hypothesis, following the VP's scheduling absences I posted yesterday, today longtime McCain buddy Don Imus could not get the AZ senator for the program because he's not doing interviews. Why would Rove muzzle an asset during the convention? Bizarrely and flying in the face of the nominations submitted yesterday, Kristol's theory explains this and makes sense. We'll have to see, but it is odd.

Posted by: cornetofhorse at August 31, 2004 8:54 AM

s of h:

He was on every channel but Animal Planet last night but he's supposed to fly to NM to meet the President today and they're campaigning north together.

Posted by: oj at August 31, 2004 9:02 AM
  • The three 9-11 family members conveyed the real significance of this election better than any politician ever could. The contrast between them and the garden-variety glassy-eyed teleprompter readers couldn't have been more stark.
  • Rudy set the bar high for the rest of the convention. In particular, he explained the Bush Doctrine about as well as it can be explained. He got the essential message across, as well as some good digs at the opposition, without seeming too partisan. He did it with passion, but also with an easy, conversational style, and tempered it with some genuine humor.
  • McCain's oration suffered by comparison to Rudy, and many conservatives will dismiss his speech as too bipartisan. But despite the media's attempts to portray him as a reluctant Bush supporter, his absolute conviction that every issue pales in comparison to the war on terror came through in the end. It's a message that will resonate more with swing voters coming from him than from anyone else. I'm sure he reached some last night.
  • After last night, anyone who is still complaining about the lack of conservatives at the convention doesn't understand politics at all.
  • Minor point: nearly every speaker was accompanied (at least on C-SPAN) by the dull roar of conversations and the sight of the aisles full of people wandering about. I expect that from Democrats, but who knew Republicans could be so rude?
Posted by: Tom L at August 31, 2004 9:10 AM

I know some die-hard Dems (ABBs no less) who are also die-hard McCainiacs. I wonder what they were thinking last night. I won't bring it up to them, as I don't want to cause a stroke or bi-polar episode, but I can't help hoping they had trouble sleeping.

Posted by: NKR at August 31, 2004 9:55 AM

After the convention last night I caught a bit of Goldwater's '64 acceptance speech on C-SPAN2. It was eerie how relevant his words then are still so relevant to these modern times.

Also, as someone else already noted, it was a striking contrast from the Dem convention in the way the Rep's invoked the memory of 9/11 and the message of spreading freedom to the world.

Posted by: MB at August 31, 2004 10:13 AM


Did you see Ike in '56? It was awful.

Posted by: oj at August 31, 2004 10:40 AM


No I didn't see that one. I came across Goldwater's quite by accident and became transfixed by it. The parallels in his message about the communist threat, America's unique duty to defend freedom, and the Republican party's historical commitment to the principles of liberty were strikingly similar to the debate we are having in this country today.

Posted by: MB at August 31, 2004 11:01 AM


"Let's remind people, now especially, that the City of New York pleaded with both parties to hold their conventions there -- and the Democrats refused because they wanted an 'exclusive.'"

Took me a little Googling to find it, but you're absolutely right.

What on earth were they thinking?

Posted by: Ed Driscoll at August 31, 2004 11:02 AM

I disagree that McCain was entirely "flat". While many here credit his closing, the part where he laid out the reasoning behind Going into Iraq was clear, concise, and accurate.

Clip it and send to your undecided friends. It's pretty good.

Posted by: BB at August 31, 2004 11:17 AM


You can probably find a copy of Conscience of a Conservative for a dime somewhere and a candidate could nearly run on it today:

Posted by: oj at August 31, 2004 11:17 AM


They thought Bush would be afraid to go to NYC.

Posted by: oj at August 31, 2004 11:18 AM

Ed: They thought Bush would be afraid to go to NYC.

Guess the misunderestimated him. Again.
* Giuliani was inspirational. My wife's only slightly negative comment was she thought he needed some detntal bridge work done.

Posted by: John Resnick at August 31, 2004 12:29 PM

Lileks had Rudy exactly right: "It was like watching a blacksmith at work while he whistled opera"

Rudy was the definition of the happy workman. He was clearly having fun, clearly enjoying himself.

As I've said at my blog, the only other politician who seems to be having as much fun as Rudy is ....Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Posted by: H.D. Miller at August 31, 2004 2:02 PM