I’m planning on starting on the liveblogging around 8:30, when General Franks takes the podium.
After my stellar record of predictions last night (I went 1 for 4, and nearly backed out of my one successful one), I’m gonna invite everyone else to make predictions. I’m opening up betting pools, and everyone is invited to wager in the comments. And I’m actually offering prizes — I have GMail invitations up for grabs. Betting closes at 9:55 Eastern Standard Time, and the decision of this judge is final.
1) How many times will President Bush use the word “evil” in his speech?
2) How far into his speech will Bush first use the word “evil?”
3) How long will it take for Bush to refer to either “Kerry” or “My opponent?”
The pool is now open…
8:30: Geez, that’s enough brass to equip a marching band. More evidence that the military is generally a fundamentally conservative organization, and the feeling’s mutual. This is intended to gut Kerry’s military record as a weapon against National Guardsman Bush… I dunno if it’ll work, but it’ll help. It’ll help a LOT.
8:34: “I’m Tommy Kelly, and I approved of this message.” For an instant, I thought it was gonna be “…and I’m reporting for duty.” Damn… that woulda been SO DAMN BRUTAL.
8:38: “I choose to fight them… over there.” “Over there, over there, send the word, send the word over there. That the Yanks are coming…”
General Franks has obviously been reading my pieces about why we shouldn’t treat the War On Terror as a law-enforcement issue.
“Hope is not a strategy.” It’s also not a birth control method. But it is a place in Arkansas that has much to answer for…
8:43: Is the waving flag behind General Franks giving anyone else “Patton” flashbacks? If I hear him say “We’re going to hold onto him by the nose and we’re going to kick him in the ass” or mentions “a bunch of goo that a moment before was your best friend’s face,” I’m calling foul.
And there’s a kick to the “unilateral” line of attack against Bush… although I wish he’d given real numbers.
8:50: Overall, Franks didn’t say that much exciting or surprising — or even that significant. The real message here is the messenger. Franks is a highly-decorated, highly honored, very successful and popular soldier. His book’s at the top of the best seller lists. And that was a HUGE number of fellow flag-rank officers behind him. That’s taking Lieutenant Kerry’s military credibility and knocking it down to size.
8:55: “Dancing In The Streets.” Please, last night was bad enough! Don’t encourage them! Dear God, not more dancing Republicans!
The horror… the horror…
8:58: Clarification on the betting: Bets need to be stated in minutes from Bush’s first word into the microphone, and no, losers need not pay for losing. But bribes are always welcome…
9:00: Another mention of Bush’s Oldsmobile. I wonder if I’m the only one who instantly associates politicians and Oldsmobiles with Chappaquiddick and Ted Kennedy causing the death of Mary Jo Kopechne.
“…did everything he could to avoid the dance floor at my wedding.” Hell, even he agrees Republicans shouldn’t dance! Forget the No Gay Marriage or No Flag Burning amendments. We need a Constitutional Amendment to keep Republicans from dancing.
9:05: Oh, this is too rich. Just a little while ago Bush got into a pissing match with the NAACP for skipping their annual meeting. Now their 2004 Image Award winner is singing at the Republican National Convention. Stick THAT in your pipe and smoke it, Julian Bond.
9:20: Another “immigrant makes good” story, with anti-Communist personal testimony. I wonder if I’m the first person to compare Mel Martinez with Arnold Schwarzenegger?
And I wonder if I keep mentioning Schwarzenegger just to prove I can spell his name without having to look it up or cut and paste?
9:42: Pataki’s up now. And it’s more 9/11. He’s reminding us just how we all pulled together at that time, in so many ways large and small. I remember doing my small part at the time, as did my co-workers. It’s a cliche’, but it’s true: sometimes it takes the worst to bring out our best.
9:44: And you’re welcome, New York. We all know you took the hit, but it could have been any of us. And it could be next time.
OK, now Pataki’s going after Kerry. More red meat… I don’t think he’ll match Miller, but it could be nasty.
Only if we’re lucky.
Nope, he’s praising Bush. That’s fine — there’s a record there to be pushed forward.
“He said he’d do it, and he’d did.” That could come back and bite Bush on the ass. Just attach that to his inevitable gaffes and misstatements.
I’m having Dr. Seuss moments. “I mean what I said and said what I meant.”
OK, NOW we’re going after Kerry…
9:48: “Hype is on the way.” A for effort, but no winner. “Win one for the Gipper, lose one with the Flipper.” Better, but it doesn’t quite do it, either. Pataki’s trying like hell, but just can’t quite get a rallying cry out.
Oh, good, he’s kicking Clinton. Not even mentioning them by name, but it’s abundantly clear he’s kicking the husband of his state’s junior senator. But last night they had Kerry’s governor and lieutenant governor go after him…
9:53: “A box cutter is a weapon of mass destruction.” No, a WMD is a nuclear, biological, or chemical weapon. And we’ve found a couple dozen chemical weapons in Iraq — why the hell hasn’t that gotten bigger play?
“Respectfully, Senator, that’s not good enough.” Damn straight.
10:01: Man, I hope this is the last time I have to see dancing Republicans for another four years. Forget WMDs — if we could have linked THAT to Saddam, the invasion would’ve had at least 98% support.
Did I just see Rudy Guiliani kissing Ron Silver? I thought the GOP was the party AGAINST gay rights, gay marriage, etc. etc. etc.
10:07: NICE reveal. Stage magician worthy — the crossing flags, then Bush appears and steps out from between them. Someone’s being very, VERY clever…
10:12: Say what you want about Bush’s speaking ability, you must acknowledge this: unlike Kerry, he doesn’t step on his own applause lines. He lets the crowd give their response. That’s where Kerry shows he’s a lousy speaker. As was said about Chris Matthews, part of being a great speaker is being a great listener, and that’s one place Kerry and Matthews fall down. Bush LISTENS.
10:14: Does that pride extend to Neil Bush? He seems more like a Kennedy than a Bush…
10:18: “Nothing will hold us back.” Bill Clinton had “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow,” Dubya’s got Starship’s “Nothing’s gonna stop us now.” At least it’s better than when Reagan tried to co-opt “Born in the USA” without actually LISTENING to the lyrics, and getting smacked (rightfully) by Bruce Springsteen. I think that’s what turned Springsteen from bard for the common man to liberal activist; it was a backlash to Reagan’s trying to hijack his song. Can’t really say I blame the Boss… it was one of Reagan’s biggest gaffes.
10:23: So far, I haven’t really seen the advantage of the “Theatre in the Round” format. Maybe it’s because I’m watching on TV, maybe because C-SPAN is using a very tight closeup that just shows Bush and the flags on the screens in the backdrop. Maybe Kevin can tell us if it’s different there in person.
10:25: “In a new term, I will lead a bipartisan effort to reform and simplify the federal tax code.” It’s not a pledge to abolish the IRS and the income tax, as was rumored few months ago, but it’s something.
10:30: “As I have traveled our country, I have met too many good doctors, especially OB-GYNS, who are being forced out of practice because of the high cost of lawsuits. To make health care more affordable and accessible, we must pass medical liability reform now. “ Take THAT, John Edwards.
And is it obvious that Kevin came through with the text of the President’s speech? Much obliged, Fearless Leader!
10:31: “Another priority for a new term is to build an ownership society, because ownership brings security, and dignity, and independence.” This oughta give the “all property is theft” loonies screaming nightmares.
10:33: “This principal is challenging the soft bigotry of low expectations.” Now the President is stealing from me!
OK, OK, I stole it from someone else. But it’s refreshing to hear my thoughts shared by the President — who once again is refusing to step on the audience’s reactions.
10:37: “The web address is not very imaginative, but it’s easy to remember: GeorgeWBush.com.” He shoulda said it was “dubya-dubya-dubya-dot-georgewbush.com.” Woulda been a nice touch.
Yes, he smacks Kerry a bit, but nowhere near as brutally as others (especially Zell Miller). But in an appropriate way. Straight, but not rough. Needling, not stabbing. Almost…. dare I say it? Presidential.
10:45: Another protestor hauled off. She apparently went off just as Bush talked about “nuculer weapons.” I suspect an English teacher finally snapped. I don’t blame her — it drives me nuts, too.
10:48: Another protestor, I presume — C-SPAN didn’t show this one. I’m wondering if it was another English teacher, or if Kevin found his way back into the Cablevision Suite? I sincerely hope Mrs. WizBang can wire him the bail money… IF she wishes to wire it to him…
10:52: “…breed violence for export.” Paging Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, please pick up the white courtesy phone.”
10:55: “I actually did vote for the 87 billion dollars before I voted against it.” That single line is going to be used over and over and over, driven like a stake through John Kerry’s heart. And rightfully so. It’s gonna be the “brainwashed,” the “Poland is a free nation, ” the “malaise,” the killer rabbit, the driving the tank photo op, of 2004.
11:00: “Our good friend Israel.” ‘Nuff said.
11:02: “In 1946, 18 months after the fall of Berlin to allied forces, a journalist wrote in the New York Times, ‘Germany is a land in an acute stage of economic, political and moral crisis. [European] capitals are frightened. In every [military] headquarters, one meets alarmed officials doing their utmost to deal with the consequences of the occupation policy that they admit has failed.’ End quote. Maybe that same person’s still around, writing editorials.” Nothing like a Presidential bitch-slapping of the New York Times. And when it’s so richly deserved.
11:05: “People sometimes have to correct my English. I knew I had a problem when Arnold Schwarzenegger started doing it.” Now I regret Kevin gave me the text in advance. I wish I could’ve heard that line cold.
11:12: Wow. He’s not the greatest off the cuff speaker, and he’s not the greatest at a prepared speech, but George W. Bush had my eyes welling up when he was talking about the families of those who’s lost loved ones in the war on terror. Maybe it’s just the fatigue (I’m normally asleep before 10, and this is the fourth straight night Kevin’s had me up to midnight, then working a full day), maybe it’s just my screwed-up emotional issues, but he got to me tonight. I look at him and I think, “he gets it.”
Bush was on track to be an entirely unremarkable president before September 11. Congress was blocking his appointments, the economy was floundering, and nobody really was too bent out of shape about anything. 9/11 changed all that. The man who became president for no real visible reason suddenly found himself facing challenges no president had faced in almost 60 years. And he found a purpose for his presidency.
Update: I’m going to bed. Winners will be announced tomorrow, and invitations issued as promised.