September 5, 2004


Against shifting odds, GOP's champion of freedom begins his march toward re-election (DAVID HORSEY, September 5, 2004, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER)

Michael Moore, Helen Thomas and the protesters in the streets all were useful props in the Republican morality play. These villains outside the hall and in the media seats represented the forces of chaos and weakness and surrender while the plain spoken, unflinching George W. Bush was the champion of freedom and all-American manliness and victory. That was the message from speaker after speaker for four nights in a row and an effective message it was.

The first to really drive the theme home was former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who followed McCain to the stage. I missed hearing Giuliani's speech. I was in lower Manhattan at a nightclub called Pressure with a gathering of young Republican women. The hostess of the event was Katherine Harris, now a member of Congress but more notorious for being the Florida secretary of state who counted the votes that made Bush president.

While Giuliani's face hovered overhead on a giant TV screen, I gobbled up free egg rolls and whisky and talked to young Republicans. They were handsome and articulate. I have no doubt they will be quickly climbing corporate ladders and getting themselves elected to Congress while the pierced-tongued anarchists will still be working nights at video stores and dropping classes at community colleges. [...]

No matter how much people pretend to vote on issues and rational analysis, most of us vote our gut, our emotions, our impulses. Clinton had a visceral appeal. Kerry does not. And, since those few undecided voters who will tip the balance of the 2004 presidential election are quite likely impulsive, emotional voters, Kerry may be in trouble.

He's also in trouble because the Republicans are projecting all the right themes and images to grab the middle-American voter on the gut level.

They've got the manly, resolute president with the swagger of a Texas rancher. The Democrats have a guy windsurfing in Nantucket.

The Republicans have a first lady who looks exactly like the good women you'd meet at church or see driving to a soccer field in a van filled with kids. The Democrats have an exotic rich woman who can't stop talking about her first husband.

The Republicans have a team of tough guys -- Giuliani, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dick Cheney, McCain -- who promise to find the bad guys and keep America safe. The Democrats have Michael Moore.

The Republicans have a simple message about war: 50 million humans freed from tyrants in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Democrats have a harder message to get across: the many ways in which Americans will pay dearly for the pre-emptive war in Iraq.

After the president's speech Thursday night, I went to Joe Allen's, a bar on 46th Street, where I crashed a party given by The New York Times. I ran into another journalistic nemesis of the Bush White House, the columnist Maureen Dowd. The first thing Maureen said to me was, "Don't you think Hillary Clinton must be starting her campaign tonight?"

Did she have advance word that the ex-President was going to suck all the wind out of the Senator's sails on Friday?

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 5, 2004 4:34 PM

this article about sums up everything we've all been feeling about the whole election these last few months. Nicely written and good blog choice.

Posted by: neil at September 5, 2004 5:33 PM

Maybe it's because I missed her speech, but I have a hard time picturing Laura Bush driving a minivan full of kids up to a soccer field. A baseball park, though...

Posted by: Random Lawyer at September 5, 2004 5:42 PM