Saturday, July 31, 2004

Convention conflation

I have to admit that, like the rest of America, I largely tuned out of the Democratic National Convention. I only really watched Thursday night's events--from the introduction of Kerry's daughters onwards.

I'll admit to laughing at, and being quite disturbed by, Alexandra's anecdote about the hamster ("the hamster was never quite right after that. . . ."), but not so much as the cornball "John Kerry, reporting for duty," with salute. Even if it is a dig at the current squatter of the White House, it was still rather lame.

The first few minutes of the speech were also rather stiff: it's kind of clear that Kerry isn't going to be the first guy you invite to a party. But, at this point in time, I don't think America needs, or for that matter wants, such a person in charge of the country. I agreed with most of his major points, and felt he did a brilliant job in connecting his own plans, beliefs, and values to those of his great predecessors--Lincoln, FDR, and JFK. I also believe he did a good job in turning a lot of his supposed "negatives" into assets: "Saying `mission accomplished' certainly does not make it so" was brilliant.

Obviously, I think the line that sent most of the crowd into overdrive--and will be a difficult matter for BushCo. to deal with was the line about the Saudi royal family. Media focus groups reacting to that speech apparently reacted with utter joy and glee, on both sides of the ideological divide. [Allegedly, 98% of Democrats, and 88% of Republicans agreed with that sentiment.] But the reason I think that this line is so well-received is that it expresses a fundamental truth about our society today: we need better solutions to our long-term energy strategy than just cheap sources of oil. We fundamentally need to reform the way we use and conserve energy, and it's not a solution that's going to be solved with secret meetings with energy suppliers. [That riff was also one of the glories of the speech.]

But on the whole, a lot of people apparently like that speech. Newsweek claims that Kerry/Edwards now holds an eight-point lead in a two-way race, while a recent MSNBC poll claims an eleven-point bounce between polls taken on Thursday and Friday. If these results are anywhere near true, we're almost guaranteed to see BushCo. really get desperate on their tour this month.

Bush's main problem I see right now is that he's been painted into a corner in the last few months. He can't even really claim to be cutting taxes for the middle class, thanks to his shenanigans earlier this week, scuttling a tax cut because too many Democrats wanted to support it. All in all, after nearly four years, Bush has a one-line resume to run on, and, thanks to his speech, Kerry can claim that Bush is being hateful if he tries to go negative.


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