Monday, August 30, 2004

Day 1 of the Republican National Convention from New York, New York

Eager to stamp out memories the 500,000-strong anti-Bush protest march yesterday in New York City, Republican today wrapped themselves thoroughly in the flag and hailed the Strong Leadership of Great Leader Bush. The great Leader ("Il Duce" in Italian or "Der Fuehrer" in German) himself was not there; he will tout his Strong Leadership (TM) on Thursday.

Instead, we were presented with RNC videos and a number of speakers attempting to justify the unjustifiable.

One RNC video turned out to be a recruiting video for the U.S. military. Given the military's own advisors believe that Iraq is at about 1/4 of their recommended troop strength for reconstruction in a country of Iraq's size, based on recent history in other countries, I guess the U.S. military is now so vital to the RNC's efforts, the RNC had no choice but to give up the valuable convention airtime.

Senator McCain nearly ended the convention by mentioning Michael Moore's film in his speech. Delegates at the convention hissed and booed loudly; some appeared to be on verge of foaming at the mouth or hyperventilating, so great was their irrational hatred of Michael Moore. McCain appealed for calm, but the uproar in the convention prevented him from continuing for several minutes despite his repeated (and inaudible) calls for calm.

PBS coverage showed Michael Moore, who was up in a press booth covering the convention for USA Today, flashing a victory sign (or perhaps it was a culturally ambiguous sign) at McCain in response to the demonstration of extreme hatred by the delegates.

[Update: In his Sept 1 column in USA Today, Michael Moore explained that he believed the uproar was caused by the fact that McCain's erroneous comments regarding the film indicated he had not seen it, a fact McCain later admitted on MSNBC according to Moore. The fact that the Republican powers-that-be did not correct the text of McCain's speech prior to his presentation, perhaps deliberately, was a further embarrassment for the Republicans and for McCain, as was the fact that the Republicans had not told him that Moore was in the audience, covering the convention. Moore says he flashed a "two" to the delegates rather than a victory sign for "Two more months" (and then, subsequently, an "L" for "Loser") in response to mad chanting of "four more years" by embarrassed Republicans. It is worth noting that Republicans did not react to references to Saddam or Osama, but disrupted the convention at McCain's veiled reference to Michael Moore.]

"That line was so good I think I'll use it again." McCain said after the floor finally calmed down. [Update: Moore wrote in his column that he believes McCain misunderstood the delegates reaction. Likely the delegates also misunderstood McCain's need to repeat the line, for by this point the T.V. audience at home would have forgotten the beginning of the sentence given the extreme length and violence of the floor disruption.] McCain then repeated the line, which again produced a spontaneous demonstration of extreme hatred.

McCain largely gave the delegates what they wanted to hear, but speaking to Jim Lehrer after his speech he explained that he had attempted to tone down the speech. At the end, he explained to the delegates that the real enemy were the terrorists, while the Republican's political foes were also Americans and were merely engaged in a legitimate process of debate as to the correct strategy forward. Jim Lehrer asked him afterwards whether this was a call for domestic calm, and McCain said that it indeed was.

Some victims of September 11th spoke, who apparently did not realize that the weak leadership of Great Leader Bush, most notably his tendency to play too much golf and go on vacation right after receiving intelligence that a member of the family of his close business partners, the bin Ladens, and a former employee of his father, had gone off the reservation and was planning to hijack planes in the U.S. soon, and that former Bush help Osama had already enrolled a number of terrorists in U.S. flight schools. But who can blame Bush for underestimating disgruntled former family help. Of course there was Bush's desire for a "humble foreign policy", such as bringing home the troops after the attack on the U.S.S. Cole --- against the advice of European friends --- which many foreign policy experts believe encouraged the terrorists, but at least Bush waffled afterwards and decided an ultra-nationalist foreign policy --- again against the advice of European friends --- would be best for his re-election chances if not for the nation as a whole.

After the families came Rudi Giuliani, who blasted Kerry for waffling while ignoring Bush's own frequent waffling on everything from steel tariffs to U.S. foreign policy ("humble" versus "ultra-nationalist"), whether or not to allow the U a major role in Iraq, whether or not to even bother seeking a U resolution before invading, whether or not to be nice to our allies, and --- well --- I've left out a few big ones, I'm sure. Of course, there is radios own waffling on whether or not to run for the Senate --- first he was in, and then he had to withdraw, because of the cancer. And because his immoral extramarital affair was about to hit the front pages and he belongs to the party of the religious right, a double whammy. Abler.

Giuliani blasted various European governments (including some friendly to Bush's Iraq crusade) for apparent injustices they may have committed two decades ago, but failed to mention any of the many failures of the Bush Administration in the past few months, like Abu Sharpe.


Republican columnist David Brooks of the New York Times called Giuliani's speech "Giuliani's announcement of his future candidacy for President," perhaps after his extra-marital affair is forgotten by the party of the moral crusaders. Giuliani's Euro-bashing was no doubt an attempt to showcase his diplomatic skills as would-be future president.

Giuliani then repeated Nietzsche's famous Biblical misquote, "either you are with us or you are [against us]." Nietzsche's philosophy of the privileged, elite "superman", of course, set the stage for modern 20th century fascism, and the quote Giuliani used is the one of his most famous --- it was later used frequently by Hitler (no joke). Or perhaps he was quoting Bush, who may have used this quote as the basis of his Bush Doctrine, which Giuliani defended.

While it's not clear whether Giuliani was quoting Bush, Hitler, or Nietzsche, it is certain he was neither quoting Jesus nor his Republican forbearer, Lincoln. ("Those who are not against us are for us" (Luke 9:50). Unlike Bush, Abraham Lincoln also used this Biblical quote during the Civil War as his diplomatic doctrine towards neutral nations.)

While Giuliani selected famous quotes from Hitler to desperately defend the undiplomatic Bush Doctrine and the Iraq war, attempting once again to tie the war seamlessly (as one of the Newshour reporters pointed out) to 911 when many Americans weren't sure the two were related, other Republicans tried to defend other indefensible aspects of Bush policy.

An earlier Republican speaker, for example, attempted to defend the provisions of the PATRIOT act that allow FBI agents to collect patron's library and bookstore records secretly without a search warrant, saying the FBI needed to know who might be reading dangerous bomb-making books. The last time I checked out Barnes & Nobel or my local public library, I couldn't find any of those dangerous bomb-making books, but I did find a lot of books critical of George W. Bush. It's good thing they aren't interested in groups that might read those, like the people the organized the recent anti-Bush protests in NYC. Well, except for a few isolated incidents when they were, according to 60 Minutes. Which is why the PATRIOT act is so controversial.

The convention ended with an RNC video of the late Democrat Frank Sinatra, singing "New York, New York." Frankie wrote the campaign song for JFK, and no doubt would turn over in his grave before he'd "be a part of it" at the Republican National Convention.

That's it from us on Monday. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for more of our outstanding convention coverage, when the Republicans are planning even more flag waving, more foaming at the mouth at any mention of Moore's film, more ultra-nationalistic Euro-bashing, more famous quotes from Hitler's speeches (and scenes from Leni Riefenstahl's films, courtesy, no doubt, of Bush political adviser Karl Rove), and more desperate Iraq war justifications.

And be sure to tune in Thursday when El Presidente Bush will showcase his Strong Leadership (TM) skills in a speech on Thursday.