There were three major storylines at the RNC today that had nothing to do with Sarah Palin. The first was the ceremonial end of the Bush era. The second was Fred’s red meat speech and his stirring account of McCain’s military service. The third — Joe Lieberman incinerating those bridges between himself and the Democrats once and for all with his direct attacks on Barack Obama.
The Republicans need to do more to emphasize the differences between Bush and McCain, but they need to do this without completely abandoning Dubya. There are those in the party who still love the guy, and we need all the votes we can get to defeat Barack Obama. That’s why the President had to speak at the RNC, no matter how brief the speech would have to be. I’m not sure that the President did much to advance McCain’s candidacy, but it was nice to give him one last hurrah in front of an appreciative crowd. We also saw a video tribute to Bush Sr. It was fitting that they gave all the Bushes their due at the last convention they will have with a Bush in the White House. (Unless Jeb surprises us all someday…)
Fred Thompson’s speeches will never approach the eloquence of Senator Obama’s, but he was on fire tonight.
Here’s some of what he said about McCain:
Now, being a POW certainly doesn’t qualify anyone to be President. But it does reveal character. This is the kind of character that civilizations from the beginning of history have sought in their leaders. Strength. Courage. Humility. Wisdom. Duty. Honor. It’s pretty clear there are two questions we will never have to ask ourselves, ‘Who is this man?’ and ‘Can we trust this man with the Presidency?’ He has been to Iraq eight times since 2003. He went seeking truth, not publicity. When he travels abroad, he prefers quietly speaking to the troops amidst the heat and hardship of their daily lives. And the same character that marked John McCain’s military career has also marked his political career. This man, John McCain is not intimidated by what the polls say or by what is politically safe or popular. At a point when the war in Iraq was going badly and the public lost confidence, John stood up and called for more troops. And now we are winning. Ronald Reagan was John McCain’s hero. And President Reagan admired John tremendously. But when the President proposed putting U.S. troops in Beirut, John McCain, a freshman Congressman, stood up and cast a vote against his hero because he thought the deployment was a mistake. My friends … that is character you can believe in.
Zing. Character matters, at least it does for Republicans. That’s the main question we have been asking about Barack Obama from the beginning — who is this guy and can we trust him with the Presidency? Love or hate John McCain — you know where he stands.
Finally, McCain’s bipartisan pal Joe Lieberman showed up and gave his consolation speech praising McCain and burying Senator Obama. He said about Obama: “Senator Obama is a gifted and eloquent young man who can do great things for our country in the years ahead. But eloquence is no substitute for a record — not in these tough times.” True. Unfortunately, Senator Lieberman is bipartisan in an undesirable way — everybody except a few select Republicans hates him, and even the Republicans who like him because he stood up to his party on the war would have strongly opposed his nomination as VP. In addition to that obstacle, the Democrats might be forced to take some more serious action against him now that he has criticized The One and endorsed John McCain. How much pull does Lieberman have with Democrats and independents? Could his speech bring in those who might be still on the fence about McCain v. Obama? Somehow I doubt it. One thing Lieberman’s speech did accomplish was to continue his alienation from the Democratic party. Interesting how honest you can be when you have nothing left to lose.