Jonathan and ET, Pb.D return this evening as your humble (and opinionated!) correspondents for the 2008 RNC Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. The theme is "Reform" and the marketing line, "Washington Is Broken And The Original Maverick Will Fix It." Riiiiiight.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman and Carly Fiorina are all relegated to the not-ready-for-Prime-Time part of the schedule. Prime Time kicks off with Romney and Huckabee, then Giuliani, then Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle (oooh, that's subtle!) before Caribou Barbie steps into the spotlight. Then the tremendously suspenseful roll call.
I may miss some of the fun because of ET Daughter's school schedule, but hope to be back for the high...er, lowlights.
Jonathan 3:38 p.m. PT - Found this in the NYT's op-ed today: Friedman - McCain is now 'just another representative of big oil.'
Jonathan 3:45 p.m. PT - The McCain campaign launches a new ad defending Palin's executive experience and slamming Obama's. Too bad that most of it was factually untrue, as MSNBC reported:
It's important to note that there are a few misleading assertions in the ad. For one, the "Journal" that's cited is the conservative and partisan Wall Street Journal editorial page. Two, to call Obama the Senate's most liberal senator is dubious. (The charge comes from the National Journal ranking Obama as having the most liberal Senate voting record of 2007, but he was nowhere near the top in 2005 and 2006; it's also worth noting that Obama missed many Senate votes in 2007, so that ranking is a bit skewed.) And three, the charge that Obama "gave big oil billions in subsidies and giveaways" is misleading. (According to nonpartisan fact-checkers, the 2005 energy bill the McCain camp is referring to actual resulted in a net tax INCREASE on oil companies.)
Jonathan 4:24 p.m. PT - Jesus.....look, if you're going to protest that MSNBC is a tool for the far left in America, it would help if you spelled the damn channel's name right!
ET 5:45 PT - Carly Fiorina's up and selling the chorus of ma-ve-rick we can expect for the rest of the evening. ET Daughter just asked me "Mom, how come so many Republican women are so ugly?"
ET 6:02 PT - Chuck Todd reporting that Gov. Lingle's speech has been moved and that there won't be any daylight at all between Giuliani, the Palin video, and Palin herself. Suggesting that this is to minimize commentary by that scawwwwwy media.
ET 6:12 PT - Romney's up and it's GOP Greatest Hits time. Eastern elites! Washington is too liberal! Time for the "party of ideas" instead of the "party of Big Brother"! I guess he's forgotten who brought up warrantless wiretapping and purged the DoJ. And now it's on to Radical Violent Islam and the claim that only the GOP understands "good" and "evil." Ha - he even invokes Dubya! That's a first tonight. The crowd is bellowing USA! USA! again.
ET 6:32 PT - And here's Huckabee for the folksy Andy Griffith approach. Self-deprecating and thoroughly scripted introduction. Acknowledges Obama's achievement - another first, actually somewhat gracious. Makes the claim the McCain has actual detailed plans for what he'll accomplish...and then proceeds not to reference a single one. Next, your moment of jingoism: what about all those scary European ideas Obama brought back from his "excellent adventure" overseas?
ET 6:42 PT - OK, Huck just closed with an anecdote about an Arkansas social studies teacher who took all the desks out of her classroom on the first day and told her students they could get a desk when they told her how you earn one. What did the answer turn out to be? A bunch of veterans who brought the desks in at the end of the day, Teacher proclaiming that "these are the people who earned you your desks, and don't you ever forget that." I guess this is how they justify a noun, a verb and POW being the answer for everything. Keith O. pointed out two factual errors - one a suggestion by Huck that Biden had received fewer votes in the Presidential race than Palin had for mayor, when in fact it was more than double - and then rolled his eyes and said "Yes, we're talking about the vote count in Wasilla, Alaska" in has-it-really-come-to-this tones. //// I do note so far that both Romney and Huck have minimized actual, direct mentions of Palin. I'm sure their pockets are still pretty full of sour grapes on that score.
Jonathan 6:54 PT - Here are some excerpts of Palin's speech that she'll be speaking to the delegates tonight:
"I had the privilege of living most of my life in a small town. I was just your average hockey mom, and signed up for the PTA because I wanted to make my kids' public education better. When I ran for city council, I didn't need focus groups and voter profiles because I knew those voters, and knew their families, too. Before I became governor of the great state of Alaska, I was mayor of my hometown. And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves. I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a 'community organizer,' except that you have actual responsibilities."
"Here's how I look at the choice Americans face in this election. In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers. And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change."
ET 7:06 PT - Rudy's on, not yet mentioning 9/11 but assailing "elite media" and "Hollywood celebrities." Perhaps he hasn't yet seen the cover of Us Weekly... //// They're going to have to be careful balancing this "years of experience/service" theme with the attempts to claim the "agent of change" label. It's a very thin line.
Count 9:12 CT. Hollywood celebrities? Didn't "Phone It In" give a speech at the convention last night?
ET 7:12 PT - Not to mention their hero Ronnie, Count. //// Now we've just heard from Rudy that "Barack Obama has never led anything! Nothing! Nada!" and using Hillary's 3 A.M. phone call readiness line as well. He's got all the gravitas of a stand-up comic.
ET 7:18 PT - Now it's "For a whole 4 days in Denver, the Democrats didn't mention September 11th!!" to thunderous boos. Well, duh, Rudy - you mention it so much they probably figured you owned the copyright. //// Oh, you talk about over the top. "I'm sorry that he thinks her [Palin's] town isn't cosmopolitan enough. I'm sorry, Barack, that it's not flashier. Maybe they cling to religion there." He is really pushing this crowd's buttons. But what does it say about the GOP's position if they feel they have to shore up that God/Guns/Gays base so much? I thought this was supposed to be about reaching out to independents and PUMAs. Apparently they realize they're in a much worse position than they thought.
ET 7:40 PT - And now that the swimsuit and talent competitions are behind us, let's hear from Caribou Barbie! Innocuous enough content in the speech so far, but my opinion of her speaking style is that she can't seem to make a hard point without sneering or all but spitting. This woman has a lot of anger simmering under that up-do.
ET 7:50 PT - OK, I'm not at all sure now that she hasn't crossed the line from Tough to Bitch. This style of delivery may be OK for this friendly crowd that wants all the red meat she can toss to them, but it will play as yelling to undecideds and smaller audiences in the field. And, completely off topic, the images of her youngest daughter licking the palm of her hand and swiping it repeatedly into the baby's hair are very unpleasant.
ET 8:06 PT - The atmosphere on the floor is less celebratory than it is a mob mentality. I think Caribou Barbie was ill served by whoever coached her to deliver this speech as though she's channeling Triumph the Comic Insult Dog.
ET 8:18 PT - And as the pundit class begins its analysis, KO pretty much said it for me: "If you like this sort of thing, this speech will have been the sort of thing you like." It sure energized the base in that room. If you're on the fence, I don't think this was the speech to have persuaded you that this woman will help balance out McCain's tendency to be hotheaded.
And I need me some Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to re-ground my mind in the reality-based world. Good night and be sure to tip your server!