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September 01, 2004

Get Ready For Tonight's Spin

Rudy Guiliani was outstanding, but few people saw his speech, as the networks did not cover it. (Remind me if I'm wrong-- aren't these usually the same goo-goo bunch who are forever claiming they hate political ads and favor some sort of government-funded advertising regime? If they're against paid ads and in favor of candidates and parties giving free-media speeches on television, why the hell are they not, you know, covering candidates and parties giving speeches on television?)

Hopefully the Bush campaign will run a lot of ads using his speech. But his speech had too many good points to cover in even a series of ads.

I didn't think anyone could top Guiliani, but of course Schwarzenegger did just that. I think Guiliani's speech was more helpful to Bush, but Schwarzenegger's speech had more appeal to moderates and could end up being helpful to the Republican Party generally.

Even Chris Matthews seemed thunderstruck at the strength and star-power of the Repubican speakers. He asked a panel if anyone at the Dem convention had come close to equaling any of the Republican speakers, and a Newsweek editor could only offer, "I thought John Edwards was good," which didn't really answer the question directly.

So far, this has been one of the best political conventions in the modern era. The first two nights of conventions usually may not move votes, but the Guiliani-Schwarzenegger one-two was pretty much the closest we'll ever to achieving that. If those two guys didn't move any undecided voters, then we'll just have to conclude that no speech by a non-candidate can move an undecided voter.

Which sets up the spin for tonight.

Having acknowleged the obvious about the first two nights of the convention -- i.e., powerful speeches -- the liberal media can now use that as the new bar for success in the last two nights, the nights that really matter.

Can Cheney and Bush match Guiliani and Schwarzenegger? Not even on their best days. The President and Vice President may deliver the speeches of their lives, but the liberal media will only say "After the first two nights, this is a major letdown."

And to some extent that may be true. I don't expect that either man can actually top what has come before, but I think that's the wrong metric for evaluation. You can note that their speeches didn't top Guiliani's or Schwarzegger's while also noting that they gave strong speeches, but I don't expect Chris Matthews to emphasize the latter point. (Assuming they give good speeches at all-- which they may not.)

The other spin -- especially tonight -- will be that only now do we see the "true face of the Republican Party," all anger and bitterness and nasty partisan attacks, as if this is the first time a vice president ever gave a tough speech against the opposing presidential candidate. The "reasonable, cheerful moderation" of Guiliani and Schwarzenegger will be contrasted with the "venom and rancor" of the Cheney/Miller pairing.

Sure, Zell Miller is actually a Democrat, but nevermind that. The storyline is too compelling to let a few niggling details get in the way.

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posted by Ace at 02:32 PM

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