Commentary Magazine


Posts For: September 2, 2008

Rep. Heather Wilson

On MSNBC, Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) has twice said that Joe Lieberman was the Democrats’ VP nominee four years ago. Someone needs to draw her a timeline.

On MSNBC, Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) has twice said that Joe Lieberman was the Democrats’ VP nominee four years ago. Someone needs to draw her a timeline.

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The Beauty Of Watching Live

Covering the Convention live gives you a gift: the gift of your own impressions and the counsel of your own judgment. You don’t hear or even see the MSM commentators. It is a blessing and a reminder that most viewers at home don’t necessiarily stick around for hours of cable news chatter.

All that said, we can only speculate what viewers outside the Convention thought and how they reacted. What I can say is that in this hall the audience was enthralled and delighted. That small bit of political business — pumping your base — is not to be discounted. If you can do that while simultaneously speaking in measured tones to Independents and Democrats that is no small thing.

Covering the Convention live gives you a gift: the gift of your own impressions and the counsel of your own judgment. You don’t hear or even see the MSM commentators. It is a blessing and a reminder that most viewers at home don’t necessiarily stick around for hours of cable news chatter.

All that said, we can only speculate what viewers outside the Convention thought and how they reacted. What I can say is that in this hall the audience was enthralled and delighted. That small bit of political business — pumping your base — is not to be discounted. If you can do that while simultaneously speaking in measured tones to Independents and Democrats that is no small thing.

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The Democrats’ Error

The Democratic Convention tried to ignore the surge. It was the elephant in the room, the issue they dared not address. But perhaps that was a grave error. It left the narrative entirely to the Republicans who rightly painted the surge as a success and John McCain has largely responsible for snatching victory from the jaw of defeat. Perhaps there was nothing the Democrats could say. But isn’t it odd that a candidate would run for President without seriously discussing a current war or defending his opposition to a successful strategy? At some point, someone may ask: are Democrats willing to face reality?

The Democratic Convention tried to ignore the surge. It was the elephant in the room, the issue they dared not address. But perhaps that was a grave error. It left the narrative entirely to the Republicans who rightly painted the surge as a success and John McCain has largely responsible for snatching victory from the jaw of defeat. Perhaps there was nothing the Democrats could say. But isn’t it odd that a candidate would run for President without seriously discussing a current war or defending his opposition to a successful strategy? At some point, someone may ask: are Democrats willing to face reality?

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Party of the Big Tent

On MSNBC, Newt Gingrich is pitching the GOP as a “big tent” party. He’s noting that, for the second straight convention, a Democratic senator is speaking in support of the Republican nominee, while Rudy Giuliani — a moderate, pro-choice Republican — will be speaking tomorrow night.

It’s an important point, but rather overstated. Sure, many Republicans are pro-choice, but none of them have been on a GOP ticket to date.

On MSNBC, Newt Gingrich is pitching the GOP as a “big tent” party. He’s noting that, for the second straight convention, a Democratic senator is speaking in support of the Republican nominee, while Rudy Giuliani — a moderate, pro-choice Republican — will be speaking tomorrow night.

It’s an important point, but rather overstated. Sure, many Republicans are pro-choice, but none of them have been on a GOP ticket to date.

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Quite A Night

Returning from my other duties covering the GOP Convention live on PJTV.com, I have a few observations from the Xcel Center. First, Fred Thompson, evidencing none of the lethargy which characterized his own campaign, utterly electrified the crowd. They had been waiting to hit back at the national media, waiting to reply to Barack Obama’s flimsy slogan of “change” and waiting to hear a contrast on the character issue. He gave it to them — in buckets. Second, Joe Lieberman was scarily effective in the role as debunker of Obama’s bipartisan credentials and, I think, the best spokesman to date for the argument as to why Democrats should put away partisan concerns (and perhaps part of their agenda) to vote for McCain. Third,  some of the largest applause lines were for Sarah Palin. This crowd wants to support her and wants to ride to her rescue. Tomorrow will be an amazing moment of political drama when she enters the hall.

I think both speakers tonight did what Obama did not at his own Convention — make the argument against their opponent without venom or meanness. Dissmissiveness maybe. But not venom.

Returning from my other duties covering the GOP Convention live on PJTV.com, I have a few observations from the Xcel Center. First, Fred Thompson, evidencing none of the lethargy which characterized his own campaign, utterly electrified the crowd. They had been waiting to hit back at the national media, waiting to reply to Barack Obama’s flimsy slogan of “change” and waiting to hear a contrast on the character issue. He gave it to them — in buckets. Second, Joe Lieberman was scarily effective in the role as debunker of Obama’s bipartisan credentials and, I think, the best spokesman to date for the argument as to why Democrats should put away partisan concerns (and perhaps part of their agenda) to vote for McCain. Third,  some of the largest applause lines were for Sarah Palin. This crowd wants to support her and wants to ride to her rescue. Tomorrow will be an amazing moment of political drama when she enters the hall.

I think both speakers tonight did what Obama did not at his own Convention — make the argument against their opponent without venom or meanness. Dissmissiveness maybe. But not venom.

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The Show Stopper

The last five or ten minutes of Joe Lieberman’s address was the show stopper tonight. His direct appeal to independent and Democratic voters set a new tone in this campaign. In effect he said, amid uncertainty, go with the man you know. He very elegantly made it clear that McCain was unlike the sitting Republican president — which was greeted with applause. How different this was to Zell Miller’s wild and angry (and admittedly funny) tirade at the 2004 convention. Lieberman said what is rarely said at a partisan convention: even if you disagree with what McCain says, you know in your heart you can trust him with the country. I’m not sure that this is enough to tip the balance. But it set the focus for the remainder of the campaign as Republicans go after the gettable undecided voters

The last five or ten minutes of Joe Lieberman’s address was the show stopper tonight. His direct appeal to independent and Democratic voters set a new tone in this campaign. In effect he said, amid uncertainty, go with the man you know. He very elegantly made it clear that McCain was unlike the sitting Republican president — which was greeted with applause. How different this was to Zell Miller’s wild and angry (and admittedly funny) tirade at the 2004 convention. Lieberman said what is rarely said at a partisan convention: even if you disagree with what McCain says, you know in your heart you can trust him with the country. I’m not sure that this is enough to tip the balance. But it set the focus for the remainder of the campaign as Republicans go after the gettable undecided voters

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Post Partisanship

Bill Kristol just made the point on Fox that if you were a visitor tuning into this convention tonight, you wouldn’t necessarily know this was a Republican convention.  He’s right.  Tonight was a highly non-partisan night, and not just because of Joe Lieberman’s speech.  The Republican brand is not in good shape this year–and John McCain has never reflected that brand perfectly anyway.  Obviously the McCain camp has figured out that they will not win in November as Republicans but as reformers. 

Bill Kristol just made the point on Fox that if you were a visitor tuning into this convention tonight, you wouldn’t necessarily know this was a Republican convention.  He’s right.  Tonight was a highly non-partisan night, and not just because of Joe Lieberman’s speech.  The Republican brand is not in good shape this year–and John McCain has never reflected that brand perfectly anyway.  Obviously the McCain camp has figured out that they will not win in November as Republicans but as reformers. 

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Lieberman’s Best Line

“At times like this, we don’t need party unity, we need national unity.” This is really the fall theme.

“At times like this, we don’t need party unity, we need national unity.” This is really the fall theme.

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Joe Lieberman Understands Foreign Policy

“John McCain will be a president our allies will trust and our enemies will fear.”

“John McCain will be a president our allies will trust and our enemies will fear.”

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Party of the Big Tent

On MSNBC, Next Gingrich is pitching the GOP as a “big tent” party. He’s noting that, for the second straight convention, a Democratic senator is speaking in support of the Republican nominee, while Rudy Giuliani — a moderate, pro-choice Republican — will be speaking tomorrow night.

It’s an important point, but rather overstated. Sure, many Republicans are pro-choice, but none of them have been on a GOP ticket to date.

On MSNBC, Next Gingrich is pitching the GOP as a “big tent” party. He’s noting that, for the second straight convention, a Democratic senator is speaking in support of the Republican nominee, while Rudy Giuliani — a moderate, pro-choice Republican — will be speaking tomorrow night.

It’s an important point, but rather overstated. Sure, many Republicans are pro-choice, but none of them have been on a GOP ticket to date.

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Coming Home With Honor

“When colleagues like Barack Obama were voting to cut off funds for American troops on the battlefield,” Lieberman says, McCain fought for the surge — and now thousands of American troops are “coming home, and coming home with honor.” — Joe Lieberman

“When colleagues like Barack Obama were voting to cut off funds for American troops on the battlefield,” Lieberman says, McCain fought for the surge — and now thousands of American troops are “coming home, and coming home with honor.” — Joe Lieberman

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Lieberman’s Unique Attack

Lieberman is surprisingly effective when he drops the diplomacy and turns to criticism.  He really needs to be pushed out there to talk more about what Obama has failed to get done in Congress. Comparing Obama unfavorably to Clinton was a clever tack, which only he could pursue.

Lieberman is surprisingly effective when he drops the diplomacy and turns to criticism.  He really needs to be pushed out there to talk more about what Obama has failed to get done in Congress. Comparing Obama unfavorably to Clinton was a clever tack, which only he could pursue.

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“Eloquence Is No Substitute for a Record”

Joe Lieberman goes on the warpath against Barack Obama. He never reached across the aisle — unlike Bill Clinton! Lieberman gets Republicans to applaud Bill Clinton!

Joe Lieberman goes on the warpath against Barack Obama. He never reached across the aisle — unlike Bill Clinton! Lieberman gets Republicans to applaud Bill Clinton!

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“If John McCain Is Just Another Partisan Republican…

…then I’m Michael Moore’s favorite Democrat.” — Joe Lieberman

…then I’m Michael Moore’s favorite Democrat.” — Joe Lieberman

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The One They Stupidly Call a ‘Hack’

“I’m here to support John McCain because country matters more than party.” — Joe Lieberman, burning his bridges with the party in which he was a leading light for decades

“I’m here to support John McCain because country matters more than party.” — Joe Lieberman, burning his bridges with the party in which he was a leading light for decades

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It Must Be Hay Fever Season in the Twin Cities

Just like Fred Thompson, Joe Lieberman keeps clearing his throat.

Just like Fred Thompson, Joe Lieberman keeps clearing his throat.

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Hard Not To Feel Tears Sting Your Eyes

“John McCain can’t raise his arms above his shoulders. He cannot salute the flag for which he sacrificed so much…So tonight we salute him and his vision.”

“John McCain can’t raise his arms above his shoulders. He cannot salute the flag for which he sacrificed so much…So tonight we salute him and his vision.”

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Thompson Is On Fire

“Now our opponents tell you not to worry about their tax increases. They tell you they are not going to tax your family. No, they’re just going to tax ‘businesses!’ So unless you buy something from a ‘business,’ like groceries or clothes or gasoline … or unless you get a paycheck from a big or a small ‘business,’ don’t worry … it’s not going to affect you.”

Great stuff. Where was this guy eight months ago?

“Now our opponents tell you not to worry about their tax increases. They tell you they are not going to tax your family. No, they’re just going to tax ‘businesses!’ So unless you buy something from a ‘business,’ like groceries or clothes or gasoline … or unless you get a paycheck from a big or a small ‘business,’ don’t worry … it’s not going to affect you.”

Great stuff. Where was this guy eight months ago?

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Now We Know Why Fred Thompson’s Heart Wasn’t In The Race

He would actually prefer it if John McCain were president.

He would actually prefer it if John McCain were president.

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A Powerful Argument

Fred Thompson’s speech has quickly rebounded, and the connection he is drawing between McCain’s distinguished military service and leadership is extremely compelling. After telling McCain’s wartime story, Thompson said, “It’s pretty clear there are two questions we will never have to ask ourselves, ‘Who is this man?’ and ‘Can we trust this man with the Presidency?'”

This adds depth to the experience argument. It’s not just that McCain has served longer in the Senate than Barack Obama — it’s that he’s a known and proven quantity, whereas Americans still feel that they hardly know Obama.

Fred Thompson’s speech has quickly rebounded, and the connection he is drawing between McCain’s distinguished military service and leadership is extremely compelling. After telling McCain’s wartime story, Thompson said, “It’s pretty clear there are two questions we will never have to ask ourselves, ‘Who is this man?’ and ‘Can we trust this man with the Presidency?'”

This adds depth to the experience argument. It’s not just that McCain has served longer in the Senate than Barack Obama — it’s that he’s a known and proven quantity, whereas Americans still feel that they hardly know Obama.

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