8:25 p.m. PT
"The determination of a peak date in March is thus a determination that the expansion that began in March 1991 ended in March 2001 and a recession began in March."—National Bureau of Economic Research, Nov. 26, 2001
"Under President Bush, and Vice President Cheney, America's economy is moving ahead in spite of the recession they inherited and in spite of the attack on our homeland."—Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-California, Aug. 31, 2004
"President Bush pulled our nation's economy out of the recession he inherited and put us on the right track."—Gov. Linda Lingle, R-Hawaii, Sept. 1, 2004
"When George Bush entered the White House, he inherited an economy that was sliding toward recession. The stock market was declining. The dot.com bubble had burst."—Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, Sept. 1, 2004
"This President inherited an economy that was spiraling into recession and already losing jobs in states like Ohio."—Rep. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Sept. 1, 2004
"Four years ago America was about to tumble into recession. Today our economy is recovering."—Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-North Carolina, Aug. 31, 2004
"As President Bush and I were sworn into office, our nation was sliding into recession, and American workers were overburdened with federal taxes. Then came the events of Sept. 11th, which hit our economy very hard."—Vice President Dick Cheney, Sept. 1, 2004
"Led by President Bush and Vice President Cheney, Americans have moved our economy from recession to expansion."—Marc Racicot, Bush-Cheney '04 campaign chairman, Aug. 30, 2004
7:10 pm. PT—We have a new contender for Most Revolting Politician in America. Kerry Healey, the lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, arrives onstage shortly after 9:30 p.m ET. Her official assignment is to introduce her boss, Gov. Mitt Romney. Her unofficial assignment is to bash John Kerry, which she proceeds to do with gusto in the syrupy voice of an advertising actress.
"John Kerry doesn't like to talk about serving as Michael Dukakis' lieutenant," she says. "Why would he want to remind voters of Dukakis' legacy of skyrocketing taxes, high unemployment, and a plummeting economy?"
I don't know. Why would he? Especially since those were Dukakis' policies, not Kerry's. Is Healey purporting to call the shots in Romney's administration?
"You all know what John Kerry says about higher taxes: Bring it on!" says Healey. I'd take this more seriously if it weren't coming from the same woman who said of homeless people, "They're rats. Get them off the streets."
Actually, Healey never said that. But she doesn't seem to mind fabricating quotes.
Kerry "is simply out of the mainstream, and he shifts with the tides," says Healey. Love the metaphor. I guess that means the next tide will carry him back into the mainstream.
6:40 p.m. PT—At 9:15 p.m. ET, Michael Reagan rebukes Ron Reagan for speaking in favor of embryonic stem cell research from the podium of the Democratic National Convention.
"I've come here tonight to honor my father, not to politicize his name," Michael Reagan declares. He delivers these words from the podium of the Republican National Convention.
5:44 p.m. PT—Rick Santorum comes to the podium around 7:30 ET. Santorum, a Pennsylvania senator who exudes piety from every pore, has become the GOP's point man on social issues. Usually he's the guy talking for hours on the Senate floor about abortion or gay marriage. But tonight he's playing the same role his Kansas colleague, Sam Brownback, played last night: He's been shifted to a softer issue that can underscore the same conservative values without looking mean. Instead of attacking gay marriage, he's here to promote straight marriage.
Santorum returns to the word "love" repeatedly in his five-minute address. Rather than speak of a culture war, he pleads that "too many of our children are surrounded by an impoverished culture, causing an emptiness not only of the stomach, but of the heart." How will we feed them? Through welfare reform, says the senator. "I helped author the landmark welfare reform bill," he says. "I hired eight welfare recipients to work in my office." Then he gets to the word he really wants to hammer: marriage. "The key to a richer culture is a strong family, and the key to a strong family are strong marriages. That means mothers and fathers doing what they have been doing so well for over the centuries—giving love and hope to their children."
The reference to mothers and fathers—in his prepared text, the "and" is boldfaced—makes it sound like he's going to launch into a diatribe against homosexuality. But he doesn't. "In many poor communities, the torch of marriage is dying out," he says. "While eight out of ten mothers applying for welfare are in a relationship with the father of their children, and both want to marry, often, no one helps them, and within a year, almost all have parted ways."
Fair enough. What can the government do about it? Santorum says Bush has a plan: "We now ask, 'Would you like some help in building that relationship?' And if they say yes, we pay for marriage counseling with a family therapist or a pastor, rabbi, imam, or priest." The prepared text didn't include the word "priest." For the sake of political correctness, Santorum ad-libs at the podium to rectify this oversight.
Fine, we're all for marriage, right? Noooooo, says Santorum. "John Kerry's response? He joined Senate Democrats in blocking the president's welfare reform bill and faith-based initiatives. He says he is concerned about the separation of church and state. Senator Kerry should worry more about the separation of children from their fathers." The delegates applaud, but they're still waiting for their red meat. So at last Santorum gives it to them: "George Bush has shown his compassion by advancing his faith-based initiatives, strengthening marriage, and fighting to let the American people define marriage, not left-wing judges." Ah. Everyone knows what that means: queers at the altar. The loudest ovation of the speech ensues.
Nice job coming at the gay thing from a kinder angle, Senator. And I'm touched that your wife told you, as you reported in the speech, "Rick, the best gift we can give our kids is a great marriage." But if my wife ever spoke those exact words to me, I'd think I was living in a Christian self-improvement infomercial. Or I'd be looking for a pod under the bed.