I’ve been catching up on the Republican National Convention this morning, reading transcripts and watching unadulterated, pundit-free videos on C-SPAN. I simply can’t believe the nonsense that these folks have been spouting. Let’s take the keynote speakers one at a time, shall we?
Rudy made several ridiculous statements. First, he painted himself as an objective thinker, free of partisanship, when he said “I don’t believe we’re right about everything and Democrats are wrong about everything . . . But I do believe that there are times in our history when our ideas are more necessary and important for what we are facing.” I’d be interested in hearing exactly when Rudy thinks the Democrats’ ideas are more necessary.
In one of the several instances when he invoked religion, Rudy related an anecdote where he claims to have turned to Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik amidst the turmoil of 9/11 and said “Thank God George Bush is our President.” I have trouble believing this actually happened, but whatever. Rudy used references to 9/11, over and over, in an effort to scare the shit out of everyone and make them believe that we’re not safe without Dubya in the White House. Giuliani mentioned “terror” or “terrorism” 40 times in his speech.
Rudy also cautioned us not to “wait for history to present the correct view of our President. Let us write our own history.” I thought that was particularly amusing, given this administration’s propensity to write and re-write history even as it happens. Why reflect when we can demagogue?
Lastly, Rudy towed the party line painting Kerry as a “flip-flopper.” He made so many ludicrous accusations, I can’t cover them all here. I’d recommend you check out this article from the Washington Post that explains how Giuliani’s charges rely largely on Kerry quotes that were taken out of context.
Arnold’s speech was as simple as it was silly. I can’t believe this guy is an elected official. What’s really sad about this guy is that I think he believes in traditional Republican values like fiscal responsibility and smaller government. It’s too bad that today’s GOP doesn’t actually give those ideas primacy.
Arnold also claimed that Dubya “didn’t go into Iraq because the polls told him it was popular. As a matter of fact, the polls said just the opposite.” That’s actually not true. Back in March 2003, when the “imminent threat” was being sold to the American people, a USA Today / CNN / Gallup poll showed that, by a 2-to-1 ratio, Americans favored invading Iraq with U.S. ground troops to remove Saddam Hussein from power, with nearly 60% saying they were ready for such an invasion “in the next week or two.” In May 2003, when Bush declared “Mission Accomplished,” 68% of Americans said the U.S. had made the right decision in invading Iraq. Of course, once the WMD rationale was exposed as so many half-truths, prevarications, and outright lies, the popular opinion shifted noticeably.
According to an article I just saw on CNN.com, it looks as if Arnold doesn’t know much about the history of Austria, his native country. He made the impossible claim that he saw Soviet “tanks in the streets” as a boy growing up in Styria. Historians say that the Soviets left Styria in 1945, two years before Arnold was born. Furthermore, he claims to have seen, first-hand, the “Socialist country that Austria became after the Soviets left.” This, too, is inconsistent with actual events. For the entire time Arnold lived in Austria, the government was made up largely of conservatives, including anti-Socialist and anti-Communist elements. It seems clear that Arnold’s anachronistic and inaccurate statements were meant to tell a story. He’d like us to believe his political philosophy is the result of thoughtful comparative analysis of differing approaches to government, grounded in first-hand observations. It’s not as if he’s just some actor who . . . oh, wait; yes, he is.
Arnold’s speech was littered with his signature phrases and tough guy movie references, like when he said we need to “terminate” terrorism and using his trademark “I’ll be back.” Why is it that Arnold’s Hollywood career doesn’t seem to be an issue for the Republicans, who are always saying actors and entertainers ought to stay out of politics?
What. An. Asshole. Where to start with Zell? First, there’s the fact that Zell’s denunciation of Kerry doesn’t ring true. You might want to consider his 2001 remarks about his fellow Senator, when he said:
My job tonight is an easy one: to present to you one of this nation’s authentic heroes, one of this party’s best-known and greatest leaders – and a good friend.
That seems like a different story than the one you told this week, Zell.
Want more contrast? How about this:
Zell, in his keynote address this week (emphasis added):
As a Senator, [Kerry] voted to weaken our military.
Zell, in the same 2001 remarks cited above (emphasis added):
John has worked to strengthen our military, reform public education, boost the economy and protect the environment.
That’s odd, isn’t it? Flip-flop, anyone?
Zell used the now notorious GOP smear to try to paint Kerry as someone who has voted against important military spending for years. He ticked off various weapon systems that he says Kerry voted against. This litany of lies is succinctly dismissed in several articles I’ve read, including this one. That article also points out how former President George H.W. Bush, Dick Cheney (as Secretary of Defense), and Gen. Colin Powell all were formerly in favor of weapons reduction, contrary to the wishes of the then-Democratically controlled Congress. (Flip-flop?)
Zell shouldn’t call himself a Democrat these days. He’s followed the sad path of many Southern Democrats, struggling to stay in office when their constituents lean so far to the right. Salon.com has a great article about Zell’s sad trajectory from “populist to Philip Morris lobbyist to shrill convention punch line.”
In closing, it’s worth noting the placement of these keynote speakers along the political spectrum: two moderate Republicans, and one pseudo-Democrat. This is the RNC trying to put a more mainstream face on their hard-right leadership. Frankly, I’m not buying it.