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GOP-fest, Day Two

[ Posted Wednesday, August 29th, 2012 – 21:37 PDT ]

Welcome once again to my musings and snap judgments which I jot down right after watching the Republican National Convention speeches, and before I read what the rest of the online universe has to say. This way, my opinions might be wildly out of sync with everyone else, but at least you'll know they're not influenced by others. My Day One impressions were fairly close to what others are saying, so make of that whatever you will.

Today I sat through almost four hours of convention-watching, although I apparently missed some sort of Ron Paul video at the start, which would have been a lot more interesting than seeing Mitch McConnell. For some reason, I always turn on the convention when someone named "McConnell" is speaking, which was a little eerie when I noticed it.

The audience for McConnell seemed to be either asleep or comatose. Or perhaps working off those first-day hangovers, who knows? Mitch did get in one good line about "left-wing fever swamps" but even this failed to rouse the crowd. McConnell always seems to me to be auditioning for the part of "The Owl" in a elementary school play, but maybe that's just his bad taste in glasses, I don't know (Note: I wear glasses myself, so this isn't any sort of "four-eyes" putdown, it's just those frames look wrong on his face, that's all).

Rand Paul stormed on to the stage, and it seemed that while the first day of the convention was gauzy and light, today will be attack doggery from one end to the other. Paul begins this by tossing bucketloads of red meat out to the crowd, which at least woke them up a bit from their McConnell-induced snooze. I also see that we're going to get more of the "I did build that!" thing today (seemed kind of absent yesterday). Paul got heavily into the whole Horatio Alger thing (with, inexplicably, pirates and castaways thrown in for good measure), while at the same time dialing up the snark "to eleven," as they say. The crowd (or perhaps just the Ron Paulites, it was hard to tell) ate this performance up.

Then we got a family portrait video of the Bushes, for some strange reason. Lots of tinkly piano music, and Dubya on his best behavior under the steely eye of Barbara. High on production values, low on content. As designed, no doubt.

Oh, I guess this is the "has beens" part of the show, as John McCain takes the stage. We'd like to take a moment to wish McCain a happy 76th birthday! That has got to be the coolest birthday present in the world -- getting to speak to a convention and a national audience. Love the man or hate him, you've got to admit that's a better birthday than you've ever had, right?

McCain started on a graceful, no-sour-grapes sort of note, but by the end of the speech, he was (as usual) trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored (so to speak). The crowd, though, was only mildly interested, even at the fiery bits. McCain started a theme others would hit throughout the night, criticizing "leading from behind," but when he really got going he showed his full bitterness at not being the man in control of the American military for the past four years. The clouds of crankiness parted only once during the latter half of his speech, as he bizarrely intimated "love can conquer hate" which was a jarring non sequitur to the rest of his militarism.

I guess the people in the arena got a pro-Israel video next, but this was cut by the channel I was watching. We got a few minor folks including some attorney generals and John Thune, but I mostly watched the evening news at this point to see what the hurricane was up to.

When I returned to convention-watching, Rob Portman was being introduced. I guess it is also "veep has-been" night as well. Portman, to his credit, was the first guy I've seen who opened with a joke. He was actually a lot more lively than I'd been led to believe. Having never seen the man speak, I only knew him as "Bush's budget director" and budget directors are usually pretty dry and retiring guys. Portman was definitely not this, however. He was the first speaker I saw who genuinely got the audience to cheer loudly. His presentation was one giant slab of red meat, and it looks like the gloves which were on last night (where Obama's name was barely mentioned) have come off for the evening.

After having seen Portman speak, I can say that he would probably have made a good attack dog as a veep choice, much to my surprise. He not only got the crowd energized, he led them in several chants, such as "No more years!" (for Obama). His feistiness definitely woke the crowd in the arena up for the rest of the evening.

Inexplicably, however, this was followed up by "some guy from Ohio" who really was out of his depth. He was one big yawn from start to finish, and the crowd could be seen streaming out the exits and generally ignoring him.

Next up was Tim Pawlenty. He started out with a good joke -- "Welcome to Barack Obama's retirement party!" but apparently he was unaware that a little humor sometimes goes a long way. For the first half of his speech, we were treated to the Tim Pawlenty (Attempt At) Comedy Hour. Or at least, it felt that long. Pawlenty seemed determined to lay to rest all those rumors that he was duller than dry toast, and his overcompensation was almost painful to watch. After his first joke, most of the rest of them fell flat, as he tried to go for Obama's jugular. The audience seemed supportive at times, and dismissive at other points. When Pawlenty changed gears and tried to get serious about the middle class, he completely lost most of the crowd.

Next on the program was Mike Huckabee's imitation of Pat Buchanan. Now, when Huckabee ran for the office himself, he was a lot more cheerful, but then I haven't seen any of Huckabee since he wandered off to Fox News (or "the Republican politician's retirement home in the sky"). Maybe the fact that the nausea-inducing "standing on board a heaving ship in bad seas" moving background returned behind the Huckster. Huckabee, as with all the other has-beens tonight, flung the red meat to the troops with great abandon. He had one line that was stunningly sweeping, but he delivered it too fast for me to write it down. He was talking about Democrats and ended with "tax-hiking party" and I really should look the whole quote up later, because it was pretty good.

Huckabee's biggest hand came when he gave a nod to Ann Romney's speech. Towards the end, Huckabee wandered through religious themes and sounded almost as bitter as McCain at times. Inexplicably, Bono of U2 was mentioned. Huckabee's speech felt like it went on about ten minutes too long, though.

This got us to the two big speakers of the night. Condi Rice took the stage, and was the first speaker in the convention who blew my socks off. I mean, the speech itself was about what you'd expect -- America will go to Hell in a handbasket if Obama gets a second term, that sort of thing -- but her delivery was a real wowzer. Condi's quite obviously been spending some time on the speaking circuit, and the practice shows. She is confident (that quaver in her voice is all but gone), she is forceful, she knows exactly how to pace the speech, and she held the audience in the palm of her hand for almost the entire speech. Her arguments at times were stupefyingly anti-Obama (Obama is more dangerous to America than China, for instance), but on the whole her speech was a very high-level intellectual firebrandism that is rarely seen from Republicans these days.

By the end of the speech, I was thinking "Mitt picked the wrong running mate." The biggest applause of the speech, in fact, was when Condi (speaking of her own life story) said she could grow up "to be president of the United States... if she wanted to be." The crowd went berserk. This woman would have made a formidable vice presidential candidate, that is for sure.

Paul Ryan finally took the stage, but I do have to admit by this point my brain was almost numb with all the partisan rhetoric. Ryan gave a pretty good speech, but after Condi it seemed like a step down, somehow. Maybe that was my own exhaustion speaking, I'm not sure.

Ryan, to make up for Chris Christie's self-centered speech, launched immediately into why Mitt Romney would make such a swell president. Ryan's speech was well-delivered, much better (in fact) than his many appearances on cable television as an interview subject. Ryan gives an excellent interview, but he does talk fast -- and tonight, his pace was much slower and much easier for the crowd to follow. Ryan is a very good politician, and you can tell that no matter what happens, he sees himself running for the top spot on the ticket a few years down the road.

As for the content of his speech, the unemployment line across the country was a pretty good metaphor, I have to admit. Any time the crowd got bored, Ryan just tossed out some anti-Obamacare and it cheered them right back up again. Ryan uttered an absolute lie (while artfully dancing his language around the truth) about a plant closure in his town that happened before Obama even took office which didn't stop Ryan from blaming it on Obama.

At some point a protester began whooping it up in the stands, but while I was intrigued at the response (someone put up a large sheet of fabric to block the view), it didn't turn out to be a streaker or anything. Oh well, one can dream. Nothing like a streaker or two to liven up a convention, right?

Ryan's attack doggery was the doggiest of the night. He tossed down the gauntlet to the Obama team on Medicare, saying bluntly "We will win this debate!" He tried poetry at times, which fell flat for me (describing Obama as "a ship trying to sail on yesterday's wind"), but with all the red meat showered on the crowd you'd have thought it was a gathering of Atkins Diet enthusiasts or something.

The crowd couldn't get enough.

While, to my admittedly biased ear, Ryan seemed to be doing nothing more than platituding up a storm, I was (to put it mildly) not exactly the target audience for such a speech. Ryan is young, he gave a great speech all around, and he's obviously got his sights set on the highest peaks in politics. This won't be the last we'll be hearing from him, no matter who wins this November.

Personally, I was impressed with the wordsmithing that went into the phrase (describing the dim Obama vision for the future) "the supervision and sanctimony of the central planners" -- that really takes me back to Cold War rhetoric, there. Ah, nostalgia. I also liked his nods to AC/DC and Led Zeppelin, but that's just showing my own age, I suppose.

All around, as I said, Day Two was the Day Of The Attack Dog. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? The big guns have yet to fire in this GOP-fest, so join me at my site tomorrow night after all the shouting's done. I'm going off to see what others thought of this evening, myself.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Cross-posted at Business Insider
Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

24 Comments on “GOP-fest, Day Two”

  1. [1] 
    Kevin wrote:

    You are SO LIKE Huffpo's Jason Linkins...Enduring that B.S. so we don't have to. What will you be drinking during your down time?

    Seriously,just wanted to get in the first comment before the head fruitfly started his usual routine of repetitive droppings. I can't wait for your reports when you're at a convention for adults :)

  2. [2] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Kevin -

    Currently, it's a big oil can of Foster's...

    :-)

    That's a good slogan: "Enduring the BS so you don't have to!" Heh.

    -CW

  3. [3] 
    Michale wrote:

    By the end of the speech, I was thinking "Mitt picked the wrong running mate."

    What I tell ya!?? :D

    Ryan uttered an absolute lie (while artfully dancing his language around the truth) about a plant closure in his town that happened before Obama even took office which didn't stop Ryan from blaming it on Obama.

    Yea, it's a bitch when candidates LIE during a campaign, ain't it! :D

    As an aside... David, if yer still around can you check yer email?? Danke :D

    Michale.....

  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:

    Best line of the evening by Ryan...

    "I’m the newcomer to the campaign, so let me share a first impression. I have never seen opponents so silent about their record, and so desperate to keep their power.

    They’ve run out of ideas. Their moment came and went. Fear and division are all they’ve got left."

    That is so damn dead on ballz accurate it's scary...

    Obama might as well just pack it in and concede now, because it's all downhill from here.. And I don't mean downhill in a 'smooth sailing context'

    This point will be driven home on 7 Sep when the new jobless/unemployment numbers are released...

    It ain't going to be pretty...

    Michale.....

  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    Seriously,just wanted to get in the first comment before the head fruitfly started his usual routine of repetitive droppings. I can't wait for your reports when you're at a convention for adults :)

    To paraphrase Morpheus....

    "Quit trying to ignore me and ignore me!!"

    Immature name-calling is so beneath the denizens of Wegantia....

    Michale.....

  6. [6] 
    Michale wrote:

    Immature name-calling is so beneath the denizens of Wegantia....

    But, apparently not ALL of them... :^/

    Michale.....

  7. [7] 
    michty6 wrote:

    CW

    Can't believe you didn't even mention the person who I thought was the best speaker by miles: Susana Martinez . If you didn't watch it make sure and do so. Again probably not extreme enough, a lot of talk about bi-partisan workings and far too moderate for the current GOP - but she gave an excellent speech. Solid, Conservative values without having to lie (much) about Obama.

    I like McCain a lot but his speech was too neo-con (as you'd expect, since he has nothing in common with what the party has become). If he was running this year I could see the GOP winning - great leader who could stamp his authority on the party.

    As for Mr Ryan well I was at times shocked by how far he went. I honestly thought this was going to be a huge speech where he laid out 'tough decisions' but he basically just flat out lied - a LOT! The line about Obamacare not having enough money so had to raid Medicare now seems to be their main and only attack line on Obamacare (since, like most Obama policies, they can't legitimately criticise it - so they just lie about it). This is fine when you're giving a solo speech but how are Ryan/Romney going to play this at the debates when the other side will be there to call them out on their lies? And how about the media reaction to their lies, just ignore it? I'm confused as to how they think this is a long-term strategy for the election.

  8. [8] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Fact-check is on it pretty quickly today
    http://factcheck.org/2012/08/ryans-vp-spin/

  9. [9] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Haha if you didn't see the Daily Show yesterday you have to watch this clip it is amazing!
    http://www.salon.com/2012/08/30/must_see_morning_clip_20/singleton/

  10. [10] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris,

    Ryan uttered an absolute lie (while artfully dancing his language around the truth) about a plant closure in his town that happened before Obama even took office which didn't stop Ryan from blaming it on Obama.

    I was wondering when you'd get around to that. Which of course, was not the only example, even if it was the only one pointed out here. And, it's never a good idea to include "dancing around the truth" when pointing out a lie. It's just bad for your credibility.

    This convention, like the Republican campaign (since January 20, 2009), has been little more than endless lies, misleading statements and an overall dissemination of false information. Perhaps you use phrases like 'flinging out the red meat' as a code phrase for all of that?

  11. [11] 
    michty6 wrote:

    CW

    By the end of the speech, I was thinking "Mitt picked the wrong running mate." The biggest applause of the speech, in fact, was when Condi (speaking of her own life story) said she could grow up "to be president of the United States... if she wanted to be." The crowd went berserk. This woman would have made a formidable vice presidential candidate, that is for sure.

    All the good GOP candidates don't want any part of this ticket. I think they underestimated how beatable Obama would be, but they don't want a part of what the party has become.

    2016 could see the likes of J.Bush, Daniels, Condi, Christie, Rubio and a bunch of better candidates come out the woodwork and go for the Presidency.

  12. [12] 
    TheStig wrote:

    The striking thing I noticed was that, like day 1, Mitt Romney was the man who wasn't there until the fleeting moments of each speech. He was as vague as that fog effect added to the blue screen behind each speaker. Does that swirling fog give anybody else a mild case of sea sickness?

    John McCain was John McCain: part goofball, part statesman, part demagog.

    Portman spoke? How could I have possibly missed/forgotten it????!!!!

    Huckabee reminds me of the preachers who used to be on early in the morning (between the farm report and the cartoons) in the Mid West. Which sounded a lot like Pat (loose) Buchanan, so I'll give you extra points for that.

    I wasn't that impressed by Condi - it was another "all about me" speech oddly disconnected from her past roles in some well known quagmires and the general trajectory of the GOP these days. I believe it was she that used the term "National Yearning", which reminded me that my bladder was full, so I missed some of the speech. Or the speech of whoever said National Yearning.

    As for Ryan, I have rarely seen such breathtaking lying delivered with such affected innocence. Couldn't see his feet, but I'll bet he twisted 'em back and forth, like little kids do when they lye. Cute as a button he was, reminded me of Eddie Munster.

    Ryan was one of the few speakers to actually mention, even root for, Romney every few paragraphs, but my guess is that his speech will greatly outshine that of his boss. That could be a problem for Meh Romney. The lies won't matter much to the Republican core, but they may not go down well with the few genuinely undecided voters left who value character.

  13. [13] 
    Michale wrote:

    Liz,

    This convention, like the Republican campaign (since January 20, 2009), has been little more than endless lies, misleading statements and an overall dissemination of false information.

    I am constrained to point out that Team Obama does not have much of a relationship with fact-telling either..

    A point that will be made clear once the Dems have their little shindig...

    Michale....

  14. [14] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    TheStig,

    The lies won't matter much to the Republican core, but they may not go down well with the few genuinely undecided voters left who value character.

    I'm counting on that!

  15. [15] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    One of the biggest lies Obama has told was when he said that the US left Iraq a stable democracy. I'm paraphrasing, but you don't get to the truth of what's happening in Iraq any which way you spin what Obama has said about that country.

    Let's see how may lies are uttered at the Dem convention. I'll bet it won't compare to what we're seeing this week in Tampa, not by a long shot!

  16. [16] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Stig

    The lies won't matter much to the Republican core, but they may not go down well with the few genuinely undecided voters left who value character.

    I think in this sense he completely blew it. Their candidacy already has integrity and character problems because of Romney flip flops. Now, when people find out their whole campaign is built on a lie, these problems are going to escalate further.

    This is why I genuinely thought Ryan was going to take it to the next level and, for example, try to make an argument that Medicare is not viable in terms of it's long-term liability potential and needed urgent reform. There is a legitimate argument to be had there.

    Instead it was the usual GOP lies about Obama's record, make up a bunch more lies about how Obama is so evil and absolutely no plan or policies to offer as an alternative. 35 minutes and he named one 'policy' - limiting spending to 20% of GDP - but since he didn't outline any plans as to how they will do this, it is barely even a 'policy'. I shouldn't have been so naive...

  17. [17] 
    Michale wrote:

    Liz,

    I'm paraphrasing, but you don't get to the truth of what's happening in Iraq any which way you spin what Obama has said about that country.

    It was Bush's surge that made Obama's "victory" in Iraq possible...

    Let's see how may lies are uttered at the Dem convention. I'll bet it won't compare to what we're seeing this week in Tampa, not by a long shot!

    "I'll take that action!"
    -Dr Rodney McKay, STARGATE:ATLANTIS, McKay And Mrs Miller

    :D

    Michale.....

  18. [18] 
    michty6 wrote:

    http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/30/beyond-factual-dishonesty/

    Sums up my views perfectly, by analysing Why was it necessary to lie in the first place?

  19. [19] 
    TheStig wrote:

    The astonishing number of evasions, omissions, and outright lies by rider Paul Ryan (Team GOP/Koch) in the latest stage of the 2012 Tour de Prez has raised allegations of political performance enhancing drug use by Ryan. Doping is nothing new to The Tour, alcohol, cocaine, bee venom and even strychnine, were openly used by competitors to “bend the truth” well into the 1920s.

    Modern competitors have come to rely on more effective, and harder to detect truth bending substances. The 1990s saw a spike in “factoid packing” by means of Whatsthepointenin (WPO). The short half life of WPO in the human body made it hard to distinguish artificially enhanced factoid titers from elevated levels brought about by years of training in the rarefied political atmosphere of Washington D.C.

    Use of WPOs can so clog the nervous system with factoids that brain freezes result – such as the inability to remember which three programs you would cut during a TV debate. Today, Truthtosterone, and similar “Designer Steeroids” have come to dominate political Grand Prix circuits in North America and Europe. While coaches and political athletes perceive them to be safer than WPO, long term effects, including uncontrollable flip flops and cancers on the presidency, have not been adequately studied.

    Use of political performance enhancement has been regulated Since the Nixon Administration to ensure both the purity and safety of the political process. Use of political enhancing substances without prescription by a qualified spin doctor can result in sanctions ranging from a one year suspension to banishment as a lobbyist for life.

  20. [20] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale [3] -

    Yeah, I have to admit, you were right. Had you heard Condi speak recently when you pushed for her for veep? She's really gotten a lot better at it.

    michty6 [7] -

    I was flipping channels while Martinez was talking, and took a break. My notes weren't that extensive, and I thought the article was running long. Her 357 comment went over big with the crowd, and I did like her "Damn, we're Republicans!" line, which was very nicely delivered. But I didn't see her whole speech, I must admit.

    LizM [10] -

    As I said, my brain was a little numb from GOP spin by the time Ryan got to the stage, so that's my explanation. I was outraged at his putting Bowles/Simpson on a pedistal, when HE VOTED AGAINST IT, personally, but I think I was screaming at the TV and forgot to put it in my notes or something.

    Anyway, yes, "flinging red meat" (I especially liked my Atkins Diet joke) is indeed code for "using the normal dishonest Republican talking points."

    michty6 [11] -

    Good point about 2016. Condi's got the chance, if she talks herself into running.

    TheStig [12] -

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who gets nauseated by their cloud backdrop. I thought it was just me.

    Condi, I think (see michty6 [11]) is positioning herself for 2016. By that measure, it was an excellent speech, I thought.

    As for Ryan outshining Romney, pay attention to the relative crowd size both men draw in the upcoming weeks. If Ryan (like Palin) begins drawing huge crowds to small crowds for Romney, expect them to begin campaigning together a lot.

    TheStig [19] -

    OK, now THAT was funny!

    :-)

    -CW

  21. [21] 
    Michale wrote:

    CW,

    Yeah, I have to admit, you were right.

    "I'm sorry, could you speak into my GOOD ear. I coulda swore you just called me 'Ace'.."
    -Ace Ventura, PET DETECTIVE

    :D

    Had you heard Condi speak recently when you pushed for her for veep? She's really gotten a lot better at it.

    On and off. I have some back channel knowledge that indicated to me she was a lot more than ANYONE (Left OR Right) gave her credit for...

    Michale.....

  22. [22] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Condi v Hilary 2016 it is then ;)

  23. [23] 
    Michale wrote:

    Condi v Hilary 2016 it is then ;)

    That WOULD be a kewl contest, wouldn't it!! :D

    Michale.....

  24. [24] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/30/beyond-factual-dishonesty/

    Sums up my views perfectly, by analysing Why was it necessary to lie in the first place?

    You should try to pay a little more attention to words, michty. From the same article: "Take the GM plant in his hometown of Janesville, which he suggested closed because of President Obama..." "Suggesting" something and "lying" about something are not the same thing, despite the Left's apparent inability to discern between the two. This op-ed writers SUMMARY about Ryan is nothing more than opinion.

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