Just As I Thought


Man, there are so many good commentaries about the Republican convention in today’s Washington Post, so many that I’ve spent all morning just reproducing them here. It’s another one of those “let’s read the paper with Gene” days.
So, why stop now? From a column by E.J. Dionne:

As one Democrat put it, the “Republicans have dealt in cynicism and skepticism” and “mastered the art of division and diversion.”

The Democrat who spoke those words happens to be Zell Miller. That would be the old Zell Miller, from his keynote speech to the 1992 Democratic National Convention — a speech, by the way, that was infinitely less harsh than Miller’s performance on Wednesday. It’s impressive that Miller has proved to be such a fast learner in the folkways of the crowd he’s now running with. Miller will proudly stand as the man who gave one of the most vicious and demagogic convention speeches in the television age. From Miller’s speech, you could assume that the Democrats had nominated Saddam Hussein from his jail cell.

… “Senator Kerry,” Miller added at one point, “has made it clear that he would use military force only if approved by the United Nations.” Has made it clear? Here’s what Kerry said in his acceptance speech last month: “I will never give any nation or international institution a veto over our national security.” Now that’s pretty clear.

… But these Bush guys are smart. Note that they made sure the most incendiary words spoken at this convention came from the mouth of a nominal Democrat. If the backlash McCain predicts develops, they can lay the blame on old Zell, the disgruntled member of Kerry’s party. And Miller was so rabid that when Dick Cheney started piling his own mud on Kerry a few minutes later, the vice president looked like a mild-mannered college professor.

But Cheney was no less adept than Miller at distorting Kerry’s record. Consider this Cheney characterization of what Kerry said in his acceptance speech. “He declared at the Democratic convention that he will forcefully defend America — after we have been attacked. My fellow Americans, we have already been attacked. We are faced with an enemy who seeks the deadliest of weapons to use against us, and we cannot wait for the next attack.”

What Kerry actually said — in a speech that repeatedly referred to the ongoing war on terrorism — was this: “Let there be no mistake: I will never hesitate to use force when it is required. Any attack will be met with a swift and a certain response.” The old Zell was right: Cheney’s sleight of hand here is a perfect example of the “art of division and diversion” — and distortion.

Then there’s this editorial:

FOR ANYONE WHO hadn’t been paying attention the past 3 1/2 years, President Bush’s speech last night presented a robust defense of his first term and a forceful case for giving him a second. The president trumpeted some of his achievements at home and abroad and began to fill in the blanks that have been missing so far from his convention and his campaign: what another four years of a Bush administration would bring. Unlike many of the speakers who preceded him, Mr. Bush dealt rather gently with his opponent, Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry. He offered a stirring vision of spreading democracy in the Middle East and laid out an ambitious, if gauzy, set of goals like reforming the tax code and building an “ownership society.” The chief difficulty with Mr. Bush’s speech wasn’t so much what he put in, but what he left out: the missteps and difficulties that have marred his first term and will make many of the goals he cited difficult to obtain.

… Mr. Bush proposed — or re-proposed — allowing Americans to shift a portion of their Social Security taxes into private accounts, a notion that was at the center of his campaign four years ago. He vowed to push for reform in a second term, but he didn’t tell the audience that establishing such a system would cost $1 trillion or more over the next decade — a cost that is even more daunting now that Mr. Bush’s tax cuts have piled up record deficits. Indeed, while he did not mention the deficits, Mr. Bush promised to make his reckless tax cuts permanent. He railed against federal spending, but proposed a raft of new spending programs and tax credits, from increased funding for community colleges to community health centers.

… as in his portrayal of domestic goals, Mr. Bush left many blank spaces. The war in Iraq has proven far more difficult and costly than he predicted; there was no acknowledgment of surprises encountered in the past three years. Surely the mission also faces agonizingly difficult moments ahead; Mr. Bush gave no indication of how he would navigate them. He proclaimed a profound commitment to confront and preempt the world’s dangers, based on a worldview seared into him on Sept. 11. But he did not even mention two of the gravest dangers, the potential nuclear arsenals of Iran and North Korea, which have sharpened under Mr. Bush’s watch.

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