Fraysters size up 43's acceptance speech.

Fraysters size up 43's acceptance speech.

Fraysters size up 43's acceptance speech.

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Sept. 3 2004 11:28 AM

When a Walk is a Swagger

Fraysters size up 43's acceptance speech.

The Acceptance Speech: Nestor sums Bush's appeal up this way:

After a lot of thought, I've come to the conclusion that Bush's campaign is successful because he appeals to us at our core ... not on an intellectual level, but in simpler, more direct ways.

John Kerry's campaign is lagging because he tries to get us to see reason, when many of the issues are more easily answered emotionally.

The awful truth is, people like Bush for reasons that have nothing to do with his record, or his promise as President. They have to do with his perceived closeness to the electorate, IE, 'he's one of us.'

He's not, but those who are voting for him don't care. He says things they've been saying for years, things they've been thinking and not able to say for one reason or another.

If Kerry could ever connect with voters the way Bush has, this race wouldn't even be close. As it is, he has to outsmart Bush before he outsmarts himself.

J_Mann responds to William Saletan's scrutiny of Bush's acceptance speech:

I don't mind the anti-Bush bias, but I wish Saletan would at least try to address the other side of his arguments. ...

Promises Kept: As far as I can tell, Bush has delivered on most of the stuff he actually talked about in the last campaign. He's delivered tax cuts to everyone who pays income tax, instituted sweeping education reform, strengthened the military, strengthened missile defense, and instituted a prescription drug benefit. You can argue that some of those things are bad ideas, or argue that Bush has gone about them badly, or you could complain about some of the things Bush hasn't done (e.g., privatizing social security, enacting a "humble foreign policy"), but it seems to me that for better or worse, Bush has made substantial progress on the stuff he promised last time around.

Responses to Unexpected Crises: Saletan also complains that Bush supposedly hasn't done enough to address "recession," "unemployment," "corporate fraud," etc. Again, I don't think Saletan's right, but it's more disturbing that he doesn't even try to address the counter argument. First, each of these problems was brewing before Bush took office, so it's a little unfair to blame Bush for discovery of the decade of corporate fraud preceeding his administration, or for a predictable downturn in the business cycle, at least without discussing specifically what Bush should have done to address the problems more effectively. Second, it seems to me that Bush has done a pretty good job addressing those problems. ...

The_Bell wasn't particularly impressed with 43's performance:

The official theme this evening is "A Safer World, A More Hopeful America." George W. Bush accepted his Party's nomination and attempted to outline his vision for the country's future. After hearing him out, I suspect the rest of world feels safe in assuming that, whatever their hopes, they can expect only more of the same from America over the next four years should he prevail. ... It was not a bad speech. Bush can be quite a good speaker when he has a prepared text and plenty of chance to practice—and Karen Hughes suggested that he and his advisors had been crafting this oration over the past six weeks or more. It felt at times like a State of the Union address. Bush contrasted himself with John Kerry but without attacking him stridently and he talked about his accomplishments and decisions without sounding especially defensive.

A prognosis?

I think Democrats would be equally remiss to believe this is all just temporary and that victory over an unpopular and failed Chief Executive is virtually assured for them in November. Bush is capable of self-effacing charm and the values he represents that are so anathema to many Democrats are not his alone but rather are shared and embraced by more or less half of this country. Bush himself may have explained his—to them—unexplainable popularity tonight better than I ever could, when he humorously observed, "Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called 'walking'."

George W. Bush is not President of the United States because he has fooled his supporters about who he is or what he stands for, at least not entirely. Some people argue the war in Iraq is the overriding issue in this election and others say it is the economy. But there are quite literally millions of people who will vote for Bush simply because they believe he shares their values on certain social values and because they feel they can trust him not to waver on those issues.

This is one of those Truths about him that the GOP would love to tell anybody who will listen but which his critics will never accept or understand. In the end, I think the election is still the President's to lose and not Kerry's to win. And I think his success will come down to whether moderate swing voters listened to him tonight and understood ... and if "I am what I am" was good enough for them. I retain my doubts.

Demosthenes2's treatise o' the day is here. Betty_the_Crow has fun with Zell here. And doodahman officially proclaims ...

Fred Kaplan is no longer a lap monkey. He was lost, but now, he is found. Once blind, he now sees. As have Weisberg, Noah, and Lithwick.

Perhaps they saw all along, and were limited by considerations of career advancement, or some distorted notions about "responsible journalism," to fully vent their thoughts. Perhaps they believe the taint of partisanship will tarnish their credentials.

Well, it does. They are now partisans to the truth, and thus, their credentials as lap monkeys have been revoked. ... That's a risk they are taking. I appreciate it, since I've been taking absolutely no risks attacking BushCo from street level. ...

That brings the Official Slate Lap Monkey Crossover Index to 4 … KA8:20 a.m.

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Thursday, September 2, 2004

Day 3 Analysis and Altercations: Evidently, fraysters have a place in Eric Alterman's parlor. In Altercation, the columnist runs TheAList's "Zell Miller, Liar" post:

John Kerry voted FOR 16 of the 19 Pentagon spending bills while he was in office. Since 1997, Kerry voted FOR every single regular DOD appropriation bill and FOR every authorization bill. John Kerry did NOT specifically vote against the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, did NOT specifically vote against the M1-A ABRAMS tank or the Patriot Missile (he has opposed extension of our nuclear capability, including Star Wars).

Who DID oppose major conventional defense programs? DICK CHENEY.

As Secretary of Defense,
CHENEY called for the elimination of the Apache helicopter,
CHENEY called for the elimination of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle,
CHENEY called for the elimination of the M-1s
CHENEY called for the elimination of the F-14 and the F-16
CHENEY called for the elimination of the B-2 bomber (which Kerry also opposed for its nuclear capabilities).
CHENEY called for the elimination of the MX missile.
CHENEY helped cut the defense budget by $300 BILLION.

Where was Miller's rage at Cheney?

Publius finds a double standard in Democrats' criticism of Miller and other attack dogs at the RNC:

Kerry is allowed to say, as he does all the time, that Bush's policies are actually making the nation less safe and more vulnerable. But if the Bushies say that Kerry's policies would make the nation less safe and more vulnerable, Saletan and others jump right up and reply: "Don't you dare question my patriotism."

Well, I'm sorry. No one is questioning anyone's patriotism—but the Bushies (including soon-to-be-ex-Democrat Zell Miller) are very roughly questioning whether Kerry's history and record in public life, combined with the murkiness and transparent opportunism of his current and recent views about the war on terror and the war in Iraq, can add up to confidence in his leadership at a time of war. This is a genuine, substantive question for a Presidential race. ...

Make no mistake that Zell Miller struck a very exposed nerve in America when he said that he put his family above his party. Those of you who feel comfortable that your families will be safe under President Kerry should not airily dismiss those who do not as a bunch of yahoos or fascists.

For some fraysters, William Saletan's takedown of Zell Miller and "propagandists" is a too little too late. Betty_the_Crow jumps on Saletan here. And here, ElephantGun pshaws at Saletan's indignation:

now that Saletan's getting a taste of just how ugly and vicious the Republicans are, he's "shocked, shocked, and shocked again." Too bad he doesn't reflect on the extent to which his immature and distortive journalism has helped the Republicans get in the position where they can treat the rest of us as traitors. ...

Though he "admire[s] [Saletan's] writing," modicum takes issue with Saletan's logic:

Your logic comes down to this: If you believe that Bush did a bad job, or if you don't like Republican campaign rhetoric, vote for his opponent to "hold him accountable." Regardless of whether the opponent is John Kerry or Alfred E. Newman. Regardless of whether the opponent carries as much or more baggage. Regardless of whether there's any reason to believe the opponent would do better. ... You've articulated the negative case against Bush (about half of which I agree with). Now, where is the positive case for Kerry as Commander In Chief and steward of the economy?

ZamboniGuy is ready for rapid response. Here's his prepared statement for the Kerry campaign, gratis. And dependable night three analysis from The_Bell can be found here.

Did Kerry Wrong a Right?Fritz_Gerlich offers a compelling take on the Bush-can't-win-a-war-on-terrorism flap here, propelled by a NYT editorial hereKA 11:45 a.m.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2004

RNC Analysis: Let's start with The_Bell here:

Arnold Schwarzenegger then takes center stage and proves that he, in fact, is the GOP's version of Obama ...

He manages to say three things in a single speech that are absolutely unprecedented for me in a thirty-year-plus love of closely watching American politics. First, he compares current terrorist threat to his fears as a little boy growing up under communism, making him the first Republican to have invoked the Cold War in a major public speech since at least the first convention for our current President's father.

Second, he discloses that he was inspired to become a Republican not by Abraham Lincoln or Ronald Reagan but by ... Richard Nixon? ... yes, Nixon. He goes one step further, calling the first Nixon speech he ever heard "like a breath of fresh air." I don't think even Mrs. Nixon was ever quite that kind about one of her husband's speeches.

Third, he brings the conservative hall to its feet by scoffing at the deficit worries and other domestic policy concerns of Democrats – characterizing them as a bunch of "economic girlie-men."

He ticks off a list of characteristics that supposedly enable you "how to tell if you are a Republican." Eliminating the many bromide, I extracted this list. Per Arnold, Republicans are anti-big government, pro-individual choice, anti-special interests, pro-school achievement testing, anti-UN, pro-war on terror, and optimistic. I do not know if that qualifies him as a moderate but he sounds suspiciously like the updated heir to Reagan. It was unquestionably the best speech of the night.

According to sergeantmajor here:

This is a war convention highlighted by likes of Rudy who screwed his secretary, Arnold who groped his secretary, and Miller who wished he was secretary (of something). And a convention at which the most beloved secretary went missing. If we need a war convention, then this is it. ...

Operatives will tell you that, in a political race, the first campaign to boil its message down to eight coherent words wins. Is it safe to say that the RNC has conveyed its message crisply and forcefully as "You're safer with us"?  Though their message is considerably more muddled, Democrats seem to be going with "America can do better." Which better connects to the visceral American instinct? 

Open Letter to William Saletan: Scribe57 is a fan of Slate's chief political correspondent, but makes this appeal in Ballot Box Fray:

You do an adequate job of pointing out the lies that Republicans consistently tell. My question to you is: what are you doing about it?

I mean, you are a journalist. Does it not bother you at all that your compatriots are making a mockery of our national discourse? You know, like letting the "voted for it before he voted against it" line pass without pointing out that Bush threatened to veto the version of the bill that Kerry voted for? Why aren't we hearing this? ...

Is there some sort of secret code among practitioners of the fourth estate that says "thou shalt not criticize thy fellow journalist, even when they get it spectacularly wrong"? It is indeed a sad commentary on your profession that the most incisive media criticism today is coming from "The Daily Show", a program which advertises itself as a "fake news show", but is often the only place where actual truth is happening. ...

Why can't we call a lie a lie anymore?

ShriekingViolet lobs a reply here.

The WABAC-PAC: Got a kick out of this, courtesy of Demosthenes2.

And Since I Assigned Homework ... : It's only fair I highlight responses to David Brooks' piece in the Sunday NYT on re-imaging the GOP The_Bell composes a lengthy treatise called "Reinventing Pragmatic Progressivism." JimmytheCelt slices and dices Brooks here

Membership Has Its Privileges: Check it out—Betty_the_Crow's Fraywatch-featured top post makes Eric Alterman's MSNBC column!

I Shall Not Seek and I Will Not Accept: Fraywatch, for one, is disappointed to hear that after serious consideration, historyguy will not make a foray into electoral politicsKA9:40 a.m.

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Monday, August 30, 2004

The Maroon Lady? Betty_the_Crow has been charting the course of Slate writers' forays into the Times. BTC writes, "We're doomed":

Jacob Weisberg got a test run in today's New York Times Sunday Book Review. That makes two now, Dahlia Lithwick and Weisberg.

I swear on the enticing prospect of George W. Bush's political grave that I will quit reading both Slate and the Times if the latter give Mickey Kaus a tryout.

Well, how did Weisberg do in BTC's estimation?

Weisberg's reviews aren't bad, exactly, but he commits two unpardonable sins: dredging up what can only be an implanted memory that something akin to a real debate about invading Iraq occurred prior to the invasion rather than six months after it, and describing Andy Sullivan, Mickey Kaus and Tom Friedman — who is now recuperating in a rest home for shell-shocked pundits, thus providing Lithwick with her temporary Times op-ed page spot — as "shrewder commentators" than, among others, Eric Alterman.

BTC contends, "There is actually a third sin committed by Weisberg in his piece." To see the error of Weisberg's ways, click here for BTC's top post.

Tex in the City: For dispatches from the RNC protests, check out Isonomist-'s most recent installment in her series here (and past entries here, here, and here). TheAList offers his account here.

Moral Conundrum o' the Day: Old BOTF philosophers will appreciate the thread TheQuietMan launched on Friday (presumably in response to Demosthenes2's earlier post here). TQM's lede:

Being human isn't a team game, so to speak.

Among the top responses? Fritz_Gerlich here and D2 here.

Reinventing the GOP: Anyone read David Brooks' piece in the Sunday NYT Magazine? Fraywatch found interesting Brooks's premise that:

[A]lmost every leading politician accepts that government should not interfere with the basic mechanisms of the market system. On the other hand, almost every leading official acknowledges that we should have as much of a welfare state as we can afford. ...

If Brooks is correct and the elasticity in the size of government is pretty much a dead issue, then what will coalesce the Republicans in coming years? Fraywatch welcomes a discussion hereKA10:20 a.m.

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Friday, August 27, 2004

Zig-Zag Zell? Assessment Fray is busy in response to Michael Crowley's feature on Zell Miller ("Zell Miller: Why the Democratic senator loathes Democrats"). Brian-1 here and fozzy conjure up Arizona Republicans Barry Goldwater and John McCain respectively as analogous figures. Fozzy on AuH2O here:

This description of Zell reminds me of Barry Goldwater. I lived in Arizona during the twilight of Goldwater's tenure on earth, and had a hard time imagining him as the Republican/Right Wing scourge of his day. ...

I would imagine that Zell, like Barry, looks on in amazement and dismay at how quickly the winds of politics change their tack. They remained steadfast while party evolutions (and even revolutions) swept around them. But that's what makes them interesting, they refuse to conform to the parties ever evolving sets of talking points and triangulations. Liberated by age from silly delusions like becoming president, they are free to spend their last years telling their own parties exactly what they think.

On the matter of Miller's roots—as a native of tiny upstate Towns County—IWonder feels that "Zell has a point":

I personally am very sick of hearing stereotypes of the South from people who have never lived in the South and even more sick of hearing stereotypes of the South from people who have never lived anywhere else and who therefore simply accept that they are somehow more flawed than the rest of the racists, bigots, and hypocrites who live elsewhere.

Shammer adds:

[W]e're not moonlight-and-magnolias (in most areas) with hints of the KKK lurking around every darkened oak tree. Actually, the South has exploded in urban/suburban population since the mid 1970s, and perhaps most of this growth can be attributed to a large, multieconomic, multicultural migration that shows no signs of slowing. Leaving religion aside for a bit, a lot of dominant stereotypes regarding the South—rednecks, racism, clans, the Klan, plantations and so on—are dead or recessing, in favor of a more Americanized sense of hopelessness: multiple vinyl-siding houses with 14-square foot sodded lots, gated, wrapping around a Wal-Mart, or a Country Towne/Maine Street upscale shopping area. We're beginning to look a lot like the midwest now, only with Kudzu.

Both Thrasymachus and echoguy jump on a different theory—that it's a your-problem-not-my-problem for Zell. T here:

I think Zeller's appeal to the GOP is due less to his argument that the Democratic Party has changed than to the fact that he has.

As a Democrat reformed, he's a prodigal son. He has walked the paths of tax-and-spend, yea, into the very shadow of the valley of gay rights, but he has been redeemed from his path of wickedness, for he has seen the light, and he has seen the truth, and the truth shall set you free!

And hereechoguy reminds fraysters that Miller cut his political teeth under Georgia governor Lester Maddox:

What Crowley doesn't mention is that Miller served as LG under—and was mentored by—Governor Lester Maddox, one of the most notoriously racist governors ever to hold office in this nation. That's not hyperbole. Maddox would embrace that characterization were he alive today.

The aberrational period in Miller's political contour is not now as a contrarian novelty, but rather that brief period that crested in 1988 when Miller saw a window of opportunity through which to climb his way to national prominence, particularly at Atlanta's 1988 Democratic National Convention. Are we to believe that the Democratic Party of Michael Dukakis is somehow more palatable to Miller than today's Democratic party of welfare reform and soft regulation?

Miller hasn't abandoned the Democratic Party. Rather, he's returning to his roots as a Maddoxian Democrat.

Finally, gthomson recognizes the parallel between the DNC in Boston and Miller's upcoming address in New York:

One of the interesting aspects of the convention cycle in 2004 is that both sides are so eager to display 'surprise guests,' people with political or family connections to the other party. The Democrats started it off with Ron Reagan, who, admittedly always politically liberal, ratcheted up the shock value, especially considering his father, a conservative idol, had recently passed away. ... The Republicans responded in kind, tapping Zell Miller…

Again, the message is pretty clear for both parties: the Democrats are so far left and the Republicans are so far right, they're losing touch with mainstream values, which is why there is this wave of seeming apostasy. Conversion or heresy is playing a big role in this campaign, perhaps because, in no other campaign in recent memory have the two teams, I mean political parties, been so clearly entrenched. And perhaps because, rather than discussing issues, this campaign is shaped by the politics of faith, fear and superstition.

Sort of reminds Fraywatch of the joke/adage about the lone shipwrecked man who builds two churches on his deserted island—one he worships at, and one he won't step foot into if his life depended on it.

Miller worships in the other one ... KA1:50 p.m.