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First night

In all honesty, I have to say I’m impressed. 

Ed Koch’s endorsement of Bush was amazingly powerful.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Ed, he’s the guy who ran for Mayor of New York in 1977 on the slogan, “Westway Must Never Be Built,” and then, within minutes of taking his hand off the Bible, realized that Westway kicked ass and should definitely be built-- while the city went about the important business of closing a couple of municipal hospitals in Harlem.  Not every politician would have had the courage of his convictions on this-- most ordinary New York Democrat machine pols would’ve stuck with the platform that got them in.  But not Koch-- he bucked the system in ‘77, man, and he’s still buckin’ today.  For a quarter century, the name “Ed Koch” has been synonymous with integrity and rectitude.  He’s a beacon of sanity and light in dark times.  If he says George Bush is our man, I think Democrats should sit up straight and listen.

And then McCain.  What is there to say about McCain?  McCain is McCain.  The quintessential maverick, quintessentially mavericking all those other sucker-quintessential pseudo-mavericks who try to bring that weak shit to the hole.  When he called Michael Moore a “disingenuous filmmaker,” I realized that my own piddling critiques of Moore were so much dust in the wind.  As McCain explained in his post-game interview with CNBC, Michael Moore’s film suggested that Iraq under Saddam was some kind of Biblical paradise, and that’s so wrong it’s just . . . just . . . disingenuous, is what it is.  Isn’t it weird that Democrats won’t say anything bad about Saddam?  Rock on, John.  The disingenuous must die!!  Die, disingenuous Democrats, die!!

And then, listening to the testimonies and watching the montages after McCain’s speech, I began to think about my own prejudices as a liberal-left blogger.  Seriously, the last time I had a substantial debate with one of my liberal-leftist colleagues about the Bush presidency, it was at an American Studies panel at Tiny Elite Liberal University titled, “Republicans-- Do They Merely Give Voice to the Vilest Elements of American Society, or Are They Themselves the Vilest Elements of American Society?” At the time, I argued strenuously in favor of either the former or latter position, but now that I’ve finally seen some actual Republicans up close on TV, I’ve had to reconsider.  These people really seem very nice, once you get to meet them.  They’re not wild-eyed ideologues-- they’re just ordinary folks, sitting there in Madison Square Garden, trying to have a good time.  They’re as sensible as you or your grandmother, and all they want is for people to love one another, inclusively, in a big tent that is inclusive.  They love their country, and you should too.

And then . . . Rudy G.

Now, I’ve spent most of my life hanging around with effete English department liberal faculty, and as a result, I’ve always imagined Republicans as evil trolls who file their teeth at night and spend their spare time trying to figure out how to pass tax cuts for their ultrawealthy friends while passing the costs along to widows, orphans, and gay men with disabilities.  Tonight, I came face to face with those caricatures, and the caricatures won.  I’m not ashamed to admit it.  Rudy was great, and great Americans loved Rudy.

Rudy G. channeled Fafblog, declaring that George Bush can “see beyond today and tomorrow-- he can see into the future.” Then Rudy G. channeled Peggy N., declaring that Bush “has already earned a place in history as a great American president,” based on his resolve and his firm hardness in those first few goat-petting hours.  And then Rudy G. did this great segue to how the Germans set those 1972 Olympics terrorists free.  Also that evil Abu Nidal guy on the Achille Lauro:  he showed that terrorists would be met with appeasement, accommodation, and compromise.  Not by Reagan, who was president at the time and who was amazingly hard and firm when it came to terrorists-- no, no, Abu Nidal was set free by Europeans.  The very same Europeans who continue to live in Europe today! And you know what else Rudy said?  We’re gonna play offense, not just defense.  We’re gonna lead and not just follow.  Hell, yes!  As a hockey player, and as a blogger, I have to say this makes sense to me.

And John Kerry?  Kerry would try to appease those “foreign leaders” who opposed the removal of Saddam.  Boo!  Boo Kerry!  Boo bad foreign leaders!  But right here at home, it turns out, a construction worker hugged Bush really hard, and a Secret Service agent said to Guiliani, “if this guy hurts the President, you’re finished.” It’s hard to argue with that.

Folks, I’ll level with you on the level-- I did not know any of this.  I did not know that Kerry said he would have voted before against the $87 billion after he did not vote for it.  I did not know that President Bush stayed with those 9/11 construction workers “much longer than was planned.” Thanks to the liberal media and the hyper-liberal campus by which I am surrounded, I have been contributing to the left-wing blogosphere echo-chamber without once questioning my assumptions about the Republican party.  But today’s GOP really is a remarkable bunch.  “The best speech I’ve seen at a convention,” said William Kristol of Rudy Guiliani’s performance.  “He knew what he wanted to say.  The Wednesday and the Thursday and the Friday, and the construction worker hugging Bush, and all the other things he said,” said Fred Barnes.  How can you argue against someone who knew what he wanted to say?  You can’t, is the answer, and that is why, after only one evening of this convention, I’m willing to bet that this land is Bush land, where people know that they say what they say in the way that they just said it.

More tomorrow!  (Tomorrow) We’re Gonna Rock You Tomorrow!!! 

UPDATE:  Readers ask, “did Fred Barnes really say that?” Yes, readers, he really said that.  I watched the Fox wrapup, typing away on my spiffy new laptop, and Fred Barnes really said that.  We don’t make stuff up on this blog-- we’re not that imaginative.

Posted by on 08/30 at 06:04 PM
  1. ”...bring that weak shit to the hole”?  Isn’t that basketball trash talk, rather than hockey trash talk?

    So who are you, and what have you done with Michael?

    Posted by Sean  on  08/31  at  04:24 AM
  2. Michael, If you need a break from the GOoP lovefest this week, THERE’S HOCKEY TONIGHT ON ESPN !!!! 

    Posted by  on  08/31  at  05:02 AM
  3. oh, the coercive malignancies of the republican party (of which this line-up is less-than representative).  this convention is bursting-full of moderate thinkers like Giuliani and McCain.  If there were any candor on that stage, Falwell and Santorum would be running the show.  I agree, this schmaltz will probably re-elect Bush.  Sigh.
    Hello, liberal diaspora!

    Posted by Emigre  on  08/31  at  05:34 AM
  4. Good start, Doc.  Thanks for the reminder about our old friend Koch.

    Now, I invite for your consideration, as you prepare for the second night of GOP festivities, the juxtaposition of the night’s stated theme “the compassion of the American people” --(http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/special/president/convention/rnc/viewer.guide/

    with the delegates’ high opinion of overseas, actual military service and sacrifice as noted here --
    http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/08/30/gop.purple.hearts/index.html

    Posted by  on  08/31  at  05:51 AM
  5. Surely by now there are sufficient grounds for a warrant to dig up Ed Koch’s basement?

    Posted by  on  08/31  at  05:53 AM
  6. God bless you Michael.  You saved me from an aneuryism, I’m sure.  The Bushmill is in the mail.

    Posted by  on  08/31  at  06:08 AM
  7. While watching John McCain and Rudy Guiliani last night, listening to Ed Koch and anticipating speeches from Zell Miller and George Pataki, I couldn’t help being reminded of a line from H.L. Mencken’s essay “On Being An American”:
    “Here is a country in which all political thought and activity are concentrated upon the scramble for jobs- in which the normal politician, whether he be a President or a village road supervisor, is willing to renounce any principle, however precious to him, and to adopt any lunacy, however offensive to him, in order to keep his place at the trough.”

    Posted by Charlie Wagner  on  08/31  at  06:27 AM
  8. Wait, did you really ALSO watch the Fox coverage? You are an endurance hero, going way beyond the extra mile!

    At my house, the weak-willed gathered to watch preseason NFL Monday Night Football. The highlight (beyond the surging hope for never-too-old athleticism every time Testaverde jogged onto the field) had to be the clever lead-in to the program. They got a McCain lookalike to mimic a rousing convention speech, telling the audience that “tonight, Americans have a choice. They can choose politics as usual, or they can choose to WATCH FOOTBALL!” A two-point conversion for exceedingly high levels of ambiguity suitable for the entire viewing audience!

    Posted by sian  on  08/31  at  09:13 AM
  9. Mike,

    You must have better things to do, like get your class notes in order. Who needs to read 10 paragraphs. You are too fond of your own inner voice. I know, I know, it’s your blog, but you shouldn’t yammer on so. Get to a point, more quickly.

    The most remarkable thing I heard about the first night so far was the apperance of Ron Silver. Now, he is not an A list celebrity, maybe not even B, but he is widely enough known to have people talking. And what are they talking about? That this very Liberal, New York born and bred, Hollywood Jew has endoresed Bush and the military actions he has commanded in the middle east. This is not nothing. It is, in fact, a leading indicator. If the war could be priority for Ron Silver, enought so for him to disregard other policies and positions that he holds dear, one wonders how many others that share his demographic profile are leaning the same way?  Hmm, what does this mean for Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Florida, Pennsylvania; maybe even California is in play. I don’t know, but strange alliances are forming.

    Posted by  on  08/31  at  10:16 AM
  10. I refuse to watch any of the broadcasts from the convention—it’s bad enough to hear the Rethuglicans, but to hear them bracketed by the braying media...I just couldn’t bear it.

    I read the transcripts of some of the speeches though, and could scarcely believe it. These are the moderates? Rudy was freaking deranged. Wild-eyed, even. His shrillness was piercing even through newsprint.

    Posted by PZ Myers  on  08/31  at  11:32 AM
  11. Hey, Daniel, if only you knew how many inner voices I’ve got running around in here!  For instance, one of ‘em is the voice of famed actor/vaudevillian Ed Wynn, and that’s a handful right there, never mind the voices of Moloch and Ba’al!  So I hardly have any room for the voice of Ron Silver.  Thanks for tossing him in the mix, though.

    Posted by  on  08/31  at  12:26 PM
  12. Ed Koch?!!?!!

    Why should anyone give a shit about what this Fucking Closet Queen has to say?

    Posted by David Ehrenstein  on  08/31  at  03:21 PM
  13. If you can’t say anything mean, don’t blog the R convention.  Oh, and quit taking e before blogging, it’ll sharpen the critique.

    Posted by D  on  08/31  at  03:31 PM
  14. Thank you for the hearty laugh.

    You are joking, right?  RIGHT?!

    Posted by NTodd  on  08/31  at  03:34 PM
  15. So you love Ed Koch because he shammed the NYC public that voted for him on that campaign issue? It’s dissappointing that you were impressed by a group of individuals that manufactured new reasons to go to war, and even newer reasons to reelect the man who they rode to Baghdad in the first place.

    Posted by Neil Shah  on  08/31  at  03:34 PM
  16. Yes, as has always been the case, producer/performer Ron Silver is a steady bellwether in these uncertain times. 

    Even in the post 9-11 world, where nothing is black and white— or where things aren’t so innocent—where things are black and white, it is great comfort to Republicans and a firm message to undecideds everywhere, that the guy who played Alan Dershowitz in that movie about that rich guy who murdered his wife, thinks the war in Iraq is the right thing to do.

    Hollywood liberals, prepare to be mowed, with conscience wide as hell, by this new breed that is sweeping the nation.  Cry havoc!

    And Michael, this whole “beat around the bush with stinging political satire” thing is so trite.  Why not just get to the point and make subtly homophobic and racist remarks instead?

    Posted by Joe  on  08/31  at  03:41 PM
  17. My impression of the first two nights of the RNC convention is “WHERE’S THE BEEF?” I hear over and over how scared I should be and there’s no mention of the economy not creating a single net job (nor outsourcing), and not a conservative in sight. Would you be impressed if Tom Delay, Dennie Hastert, Billy Frist, and John Ashcroft were speaking? I hope not. God, I hope not.

    Posted by Zaine Ridling  on  08/31  at  03:47 PM
  18. If they’re going to put Ed Koch on stage, the least they could do is ask him to sing.

    And here’s the song for him

    Gay Messiah
    by the lovely and supremely talented

    Rufus Wainwright


    “He will then be reborn
    From 1970’s porn
    Wearing tubesocks with style
    And such an innocent smile

    Better pray for your sins
    Better pray for your sins
    ‘Cause the gay messiah’s coming

    He will fall from the star
    Studio 54
    And appear on the sand
    Of Fire Island’s shore

    Better pray for your sins
    Better pray for your sins
    ‘Cause the gay messiah’s coming

    No it will not be me
    Rufus the Baptist I be
    No I won’t be the one
    Baptized in cum

    What will happen instead
    Someone will demand my head
    And then I will kneel down
    And give it to them looking down

    Better pray for your sins
    Better pray for your sins
    ‘Cause the gay messiah’s coming”

    Posted by David Ehrenstein  on  08/31  at  03:51 PM
  19. (They got a McCain lookalike to mimic a rousing convention speech, telling the audience that “tonight, Americans have a choice. They can choose politics as usual, or they can choose to WATCH FOOTBALL!")

    Er, on the off chance you really didn’t notice, that was Howard Dean.

    Posted by Linkmeister  on  08/31  at  03:59 PM
  20. So I’m NOT alone!  I’ve been sobbing the whole time!  Great oceans, wave after wave - a billion trillion tears.  My wandering is over!  I’m going ‘home’.  The ‘Garden is a sweet bower this week!

    gotta go!  That nice Mr Frist is on..

    Posted by jonnybutter  on  08/31  at  04:01 PM
  21. Wow. Judging by the complete lack of irony comprehension evinced by a few of the comments here and most of the comments on Atrios’s site, I’m not very heartened by “our” side’s perceptiveness.

    I mean, did you need to put a </satire> tag at the end or something?

    Posted by  on  08/31  at  04:04 PM
  22. Yessirree, Bush fucking rocks! Pass the Kool-Aid, bro!

    Posted by Frederick  on  08/31  at  04:12 PM
  23. uh, I think he’s joking neil. 

    Posted by  on  08/31  at  04:15 PM
  24. Thank you for helping me get a chuckle out of this week’s
    TELEVISED IPECAC FESTIVAL.

    (A “gag” a minute!)

    Posted by nikto  on  08/31  at  04:15 PM
  25. Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant.  I was waiting for somebody to point out what a gigantic fraud Giuliani was. 

    Posted by  on  08/31  at  04:31 PM
  26. Oh, Michael, thank you!  I thought I was the only one who was so moved by what can only be called one of the most rousing, creative performances to grace Madison Square Garden.  Such passion, such depth of thought.  It brings shivers even now.  Why did I ever worry about such inconsequential things as education and civil liberties!  I’m so ashamed.  At least I’ve seen the error of my ways before it was too late.  I know now that I should join my bretheren in singing the praises of the GOP.  To think, I was going to vote for Democrats because they seemed to have a plan and the ability to analyze and respond to changing situations.  What a mistake that would have been.  It is much better to vote for someone who is steady and strong, who will not be disuaded from his chosen path regardless of the consequences.  Again, thank you, Michael, for truly understanding.

    Now if only we could do away with those dreaded liberals and their committee meetings....

    Posted by  on  08/31  at  04:40 PM
  27. Michael, you need serious help. Seek out therapy now before it’s too late.

    Posted by  on  08/31  at  04:44 PM
  28. Yeah...my first time here? And um..Bush is a proven liar, and it’s really sad that, if you are serious, Mr. Michael, sir, that somehow you seem oblivious to the whole lie Bush’s administration has based this war on, and the true realities of it’s ineffectiveness. And then everything else they have not talked about..economy, education, environment..all those other realities are just..glossed over. oh and OSAMA BIN LADEN. hm...Haven’t heard much about him either.
    Well..my two cents. God bless.

    Posted by dazy  on  08/31  at  05:18 PM
  29. Alas, Ed Koch’s beloved could not join him on the platform tonight. Mistah Nathan, he dead

    Posted by David Ehrenstein  on  08/31  at  05:19 PM
  30. BWA HA HA HA HA!

    Great satire, Michael! you almost had me going there!

    Posted by  on  08/31  at  05:40 PM
  31. Michael,

    Satire is a bitch goddess, especially when it’s good.  You managed to lose/piss off about half of the commentors on Atrios’ blog, who linked to you (and I’m not so sure that you didn’t punk Atrios as well—again, the problem with satire is you sometimes just can’t tell).

    Posted by ScottA  on  08/31  at  06:22 PM
  32. You folks know he is joking right? Right?

    Posted by El guapo  on  08/31  at  06:46 PM
  33. Thanks, Michael. You’ve lived up to the prophesy. I’m looking forward to Night 2.

    Have you seen the cover of Newsweek? Bush looks constipated ("resolved").

    Posted by  on  08/31  at  06:57 PM
  34. Oh dear. Guys, if atrios links to something like this, it’s *obviously* satire. Sigh…
    Nice work anyway, Michael.

    Posted by  on  08/31  at  07:18 PM
  35. In case anyone cares—and you really shouldn’t— Neil Shah claims his 12:34 am comment consisted of kind of sarcasm that “smacks you in the mouth.”

    Mmm-kay.

    Anyone else buying it?  Anyone else’s mouth smacked?

    Posted by Jim E.  on  08/31  at  07:19 PM
  36. Atrios must have stopped reading half way through, which is a common reaction to Berube’s writing.

    Posted by Sean  on  08/31  at  07:50 PM
  37. Anyone remember “The Peter Principle?”

    Fred Barnsmell is the “negative bellwether.” Find out what Freddie thinks or does and move 180 degrees, and you will never ever go wrong on anything.

    (hey, Atrios can stick his tongue into his cheek as easily as anyone . . . don’t sell him short . . .)

    Posted by Sam  on  09/01  at  12:46 AM
  38. Fours of lies. Four years of secret decisions. Four years of gifts to the rich. Four years of major deficits. And all it took was one night of watching canned speeches backed by bright lights and covered with rousing on-call applause.
    Wow, I’m impressed! I wish my decisions were so easy!

    Posted by  on  09/01  at  01:28 AM
  39. Ed Koch - a beacon of integrity.  Now I know we have passed into another dimension.  This Ed Koch who praised the Grand Jurt that refused to indict Bernie Goetz.  The Ed Koch who yes, lied to get into office (and by the way, how IS Westway doing, Mike??) The ‘I’m a heterosexual’ Ed Koch.

    John McCain - who sucks up to the guy who slandered him and his family just so he can run for President in 2008 (note to John: if Bush wins, no way in hell a Repub will win in 2008).

    And let’s not even get started on Rudy ‘he wasn’t a choirboy’ (if you don’t know that reference Mike, look it up - you’re an academic).

    The spinelessness and cravenness of the speakers is only matched by that of our esteemed press corps, who happily swallows all this crap.

    Posted by  on  09/01  at  04:01 AM
  40. That was obvious (but very funny) satire, and as someone said above, it doesn’t bode well if people can’t figure this out.  I assume people who read this stuff are more politically aware than the average voter.  Though I should talk--I was momentarily taken in when Jim Henley did his April Fool’s joke and came out for the Iraq War.  A second reading set me straight.

    Posted by  on  09/01  at  06:42 AM
  41. Michael,

    You are the least shrewd, most willing-to-be hornswoggled academic I’ve ever run into. It doesn’t take a PhD to understand that not every Republican delegate consorts with satan, nor is a PhD required to to know that you have been manipulated in just the way the Goebbels wing wanted you to be.

    For god’s sake man: Keep your eye on the ball and get a grip.

    Posted by Johnson's Dog  on  09/01  at  06:57 AM
  42. I must join those who bemoan your lack of perception about the Republican deception. Can’t you tell from their inflection upon further inspection there’s no resurrection for their misconceptions?
    And the twins don’t give me an erection.

    Posted by  on  09/01  at  07:22 AM
  43. Love the way Johnson’s Dog criticizes Michael’s academic credentials - not realizing that his own comments duly reveal who’s really been hornswoggled.

    Did ya’ll who think Michael was serious even read his whole entry - and carefully?! (Mooser - that’s you, too.)

    Note that none of them have posted additional comments. Guess some who did realize they’d been had were too embarrassed to confess and left quickly with their cheeks ablush. Will any of ‘em have the intestinal fortitude to remain beneath the spotlight and apologize, I wonder?

    <applause>Well done, Mr Berube! </applause>

    Posted by Robert S.  on  09/01  at  09:12 AM

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