Friday, September 3

Post RNC Reflections

Well, the Republicans had their convention, and they must be relieved beyond belief that Bush didn't flub his lines. I have to give it to him that when he was talking about having met with injured soldiers, he convinced me for the first time in the last four years that he was displaying a genuine emotion besides spite, confusion, or glee. I'm glad we've all been privileged to go through this process of helping him develop emotional depth. Was it good for you?

A short way into his speech, Bush said of Kerry, "To pay for that spending, he is running on a platform of increasing taxes-and that's the kind of promise a politician usually keeps." That would be a 180 roll from Bush himself, who prefers to spend limitlessly without paying for it at all. But I digress. It reminds me once again that Bush should know what kinds of promises are usually kept. Indeed, his campaign promises regarding taxes are the only ones he seems to have bothered remembering once he got into office.

First it was because the economy was going great, and would go on being great as far as the eye could see, and the government was getting too much extra money. Then it was because we were in a recession, and the tax cuts would help pull us out. Now it's being argued that making them permanent will help push us over the top, at the same time that they say the economy they inherited was doing badly before they even got there. Oh, the flip-flopping.

It's one thing to get new evidence and change your mind. Not to do so would be considered plain stubborness; of the kind that some people call 'steadiness', and that others call 'boneheadedness.' It's another to radically change your explanation of an action or event based not on new information, but to manipulate the opinions of others. But now that we're all participating in the live action version of short attention span theater, it hardly matters:

..."Let me tell you what I think makes someone unfit for duty," Kerry said, turning his aim to Bush. "Misleading our nation into war in Iraq makes you unfit to lead this nation. Doing nothing while this nation loses millions of jobs makes you unfit to lead this nation. Letting 45 million Americans go without health care makes you unfit to lead this nation.

"Letting the Saudi royal family control our energy costs makes you unfit to lead this nation. Handing out billions of government contracts to Halliburton while you're still on their payroll makes you unfit.

"That, my friends, is the record of George Bush and Dick Cheney -- and that only begins to scratch the surface."

Steve Schmidt, a spokesman for the Bush campaign, called the speech "another example of John Kerry trying to divide America over the past." ...



Ah yes, the past. Which, according to Schmidt, should apparently be reckoned in terms of mere hours. It could once be said by William Faulkner that "The dead past isn't dead -- it isn't even past." If only that were true in this country today beyond the small handful of people who watch politics as though it were a sport, endlessly reliving Nixon-McGovern and Bush-Dukakis.

Of course, the media is the ultimate in aiding the loss of attention span, watching politics as though it were a fashion show. But as Richard at Seeing the Forest reminds us, they're just doing their jobs. So maybe the Bush campaign will get away with trying to suggest that the last four years should be put behind us, spilled milk. Maybe they've taken this as their motto:

"Nobody with a good car needs to be justified. ...Where you come from, is gone. Where you thought you were going to, weren't never there. And where you are, ain't no good unless you can get away from it." - Ministry Jesus Built My Hotrod, extended version



So let's go with something that's in progress, and see if the administration can get away from it. The September edition of the Harper's Index reports that over $85 million set aside for water programs in Iraq will be diverted to the operating costs of the U.S. embassy in that country. That's some brass. Apparently no one has explained to Ambassador Negroponte the nontrivial chance that if the water doesn't get going again, that embassy may end up acting as the last staging area for an ignominious retreat.

Here's what other people had to say about the proceedings:

John McCain suggests that Zell might not play right with swing voters. And if McCain says it, we all have to sit up and take notice. For some reason. But let's hope he's right.

MyDD inspires some discussion about how to talk like a Republican while making use of the gift of the Bush record.

Political Animal: Kevin Drum has his own Zell roundup, and points to a debunking of the claim that Kerry voted against all modern military equipment. Ezra Klein talks about the unexpected play to the base, when everyone expected the convention to be geared to the swing vote.

American Prospect Online: Robert Reich talks about what an ownership society really means. Mark Goldberg on the Kerry haters.

DailyKos is apparently swamped in traffic, so clicking through is dicey, but Kos relates that the letter Bush read that was supposedly from a soldier was indeed too good to be true. Kos pointed to Oliver Willis, who finds that it was written by someone who also happens to be a fellow at a conservative think tank.

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