Elephants in NYC III: Fire, Meet BrimstoneSeptember 1, 2004
The third night of the Republican Convention featured Democratic Senator Zell Miller and Vice President Dick Cheney. If you're following along with my day one and day two reports, here's where we stand:
Day One: Bush deserves a chance
Day Two: He's not crazy, really!
Day Three: Kerry is
Of course, I'm simplifying a bit. The Republicans decided to go with the traditional convention approach by having the third night be the most aggressive attack on the opponent. I've read that Republicans are comfortable with attacking Kerry rather heavily because the president is fully defined in most American's minds, whereas Kerry is still in the middle of that process. If it's up to Zell Miller, I'm fairly certain most voters wouldn't allow Kerry to coach a little league team by the time the campaign is over.
I'm very curious to see how this evening played out with the undecided voter, particularly the recycling suburbanites. Miller's speech was certainly passionate, but it was also undeniably angry and fairly personal in its attacks. I can't help but compare it to Pat Buchanan's speech in 1992, in tone if not content. I completely understand his frustration with his party, but don't how that anger comes across on television. Obviously, the converted were thrilled, and thrilling the converted is certainly an essential part of a convention, but if someone tuned in on Monday and was persuaded to give Bush and the Republicans a chance over the next two days, he or she may be a bit more uncomfortable tonight.
Cheney's speech was very much what I would expect. Each one is of the same style and delivery as the last; only the content changes. I believe he increased the number of people who would consider voting for Bush in 2000, simply by his stature, experience, and forceful personality. In this election, he doesn't broaden the party, but he does hold together the base. This evening, he did a fine job of coming across as clear and confident, particularly while delivery the best line of the night:
Senator Kerry says he sees two Americas. It makes the whole thing mutual - America sees two John Kerrys.