Random Thoughts About the RNC

Ken AshfordElection 2004Leave a Comment

Let’s get a few preliminary obvious things out of the way first. The Republican National Convention wasn’t geared to people like me, and not being a Republican or a conservative, I’m not supposed to "get it". That said, here are some random chicken-scratchings, for what it is worth:

(1) I find it very telling that McCain and Giuliani were placed in the shitty slots (the first night, with the lowest viewership). If the Rove strategy was to speak to on-the-fence moderates and swing voters, both those men — the most "accessible" in the Republican Party — would have been in more prominent positions. Instead, the Republicans opted to give those prime slots to the flame-throwers. It seems clear that the Rove strategy is to energize the conservative base (hoping that more conservatives will be motivated to vote), rather than go for the swing/undecided vote. And who knows? It may work!

(2) Was it just me or did the "cutaways" seem less friendly to the RNC than they were with the DNC? I was surprised how often the Republicans delegates really looked bored or comatose.

(3) I understand that the Repubs want to project a positive image, but is "hopeful" the best word they could think of (as in, "a stronger, more hopeful, America")? "Hope" is an optimistic desire for something. "I hope to get a BMW." "I’m hoping to save enough money to pay off my student loans." And so on.

Now, although "hope" suggests a positive and upbeat feeling, it also implies a paucity. I mean . . . we don’t hope for things we already have, right? So what is the subtext behind a "hopeful America"? Doesn’t it imply that America is somehow lacking? That we must hope for (prosperity, peace, security, whatever) because we don’t have it? And isn’t that an odd slogan for an incumbant to be running on?

I just think they should have picked a better word. "Positive" or "optimistic" come to mind.

(4) Gotta talk about Jenna and NotJenna. Their speech, aside from being embarrassingly unfunny, made my head explode. At first I thought, well, they’re young, so what can you expect? But then I thought about the men — and women — in Iraq, and how some of them are as young or even younger than the Bush twins. And some of them are not coming home. And then I thought about John Kerry, also around that age, risking his life in the war of his generation. And then I thought about the Bushes — W and his daughters, specifically — all of them products of privilege — partying while others their age were facing death. Such serious times we live in and, like Vietnam 35 years ago, it is our youngest generation that makes the greatest sacrifice for our country. Then, as I reflected on the burdens of the generation before me and the generation after me, I heard one of the Buish twins say that their parents’ favorite term of endearment is "Bushie." [awkward laughs from the delegates]. And that’s when my head exploded.

(5) You know what? Having heard it over and over again a decade ago, and having heard it again only a month ago, the "girly men" reference STILL isn’t funny. By the way, I’m not one of them, but I think there are literally millions of people who ARE concerned about the economy. And legitimately so. Calling them "girly men" for the sake of an in-crowd punchline is not only unhelpful and nonresponsive, but it also isn’t, uh, compassionate.

(6) For an interesting exercise, I suggest you read the keynote speech of the DNC (Barack Obama) and the keynote speech of the RNC (Zell Miller). Or even better, watch the videos.

(7) Oh, yeah. About the distortions and deceptions . . . sweet wounded Jesus, so MANY of them! WAY too many to possibly reference them ALL. (But that was the idea, wasn’t it, Karl?). My favorite (so far) was the moving soldier’s letter referenced by Bush. You probably thought it was just an average soldier from middle America. Actually, no. It was from a guy named Joe Roche who, although being a soldier with the 16th Combat Engineer Battalion in Iraq, is ALSO an adjunct fellow with the conservative think-tank known as The National Center For Public Policy Research.

(8) Did I mention how mean-spirited the RNC was, in my view? It really was.

I have a few more thoughts, but that’s good for now.