This day began as a tribute to Ronald Reagan. Even I can’t help but tear up watching Nancy drape herself across her husband’s coffin in the clips montage that showed him smiling, blustering against the Berlin Wall, and walking hand in hand with little children. I hope historians aren’t so hagiographic. Though the film’s several out-of-focus moments likely indicated the man’s aura of transubstantiation, like he was always just moments from shattering into a thousand points of light, for me, they only suggested a fuzzy relationship to the truth.
Mitt Romney, rising star of the Republican Party, came on strong, sniping at John Kerry’s “four months in Vietnam” (still respectable, compared to George Bush’s zero). It was riddled with hush-hush gay bashing in code, as when he reminded us, “Every child deserves a mother and a father” and “Marriage is between a man and a woman.” And of course, the flip-flopping charge against Kerry had by then become a mantra more than an idea. And really, if Romney wants to keep that star on the rise, he might see if you can snag a few of the President’s old coke dealer digits: look alive, man.
Next up: Zell Miller, the future of the Democratic Party… 20 years ago. When he isn’t trying to steal Carol Anne’s soul in upcoming Poltergeist sequels, Miller likes to wallow in bitter apostasy. Delivered by a man who, only a year ago praised, nay, lapped like a lonely puppy over John Kerry’s stellar character, the excess of the assault was only underlined by his cornpone, George-Wallace-like barbs. This most inflammatory of the convention speeches equated Kerry’s votes against defense budget items with abandoning the U.S. entirely to life under Islamic fascism. Charging that Kerry would fight the bad guys with “spitballs,” Miller traversed into rhetorical nether-reaches, where opinions are best conveyed on sandwich boards.
Miller delivered this blustery bullshit with maximum venom, his mouth drawn tighter than a Crown Royal whiskey sack. It’s a lie that Democrats do not care about national security or care less about terrorism than knocking out the President. “It’s the solider, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech,” Miller insisted. Flag burners “abuse” their freedom. America is God’s favorite country. And, the capper: “I have knocked on the door of this man’s soul,” he said of Bush, “and found someone home.”
The speech reached new lows in insult-to-injury politics. I don’t mind that Miller decided to throw his lot in with the other side, but it pains me to hear his regurgitation of a Fox News script about what it means to be a “real” American. You know what I hate most? That liberals resist responding in kind when they are so slanderously attacked by folks who question the quality of their souls for disagreeing with their politics and policy. If I were John Kerry, I would just kick this fool’s ass. Fuck you, Zell, take your cud-chewing cracker politics and don’t let the doorknob split ya on your way to the right wing.
After Miller’s apocalyptic demonstration of stupidity, Dick Cheney seemed like a Tucks pad applied to a throbbing hemorrhoid. The Vice President has zero stage presence. As his wife tells us, when the twist swept through Wyoming, Cheney had other priorities. Still, I have no visceral hatred for the man. He seems like the kind of person with whom you could engage in a rational debate, even if, behind the scenes, he was wheeling and dealing with shadowy corporate donors to ensure his worldview’s ascendance. I thought he might do some of the heavy lifting for Bush about weapons of mass destruction or Iraq but the Convention’s stance remains locked in, pretending as if everything in Iraq is as it was intended. Such Orwellian logic (night is day) is working here in New York, but ignoring the problem won’t make it go away.
At one point, Cheney claimed that Bush shut down the black market for nuclear weapons. How did I miss that news item? I wonder if anybody’s bothered telling the Iranians, Pakistanis, and North Koreans. Cheney repeated some themes familiar by now, that Kerry’s history as a Senator indicates he wants our soldiers to wear dresses, while Bush stands ready to bomb whoever the fuck he feels like bombing. Cheney framed Kerry as an effete, someone who’d ask France for advice. The campaign is now about who has the bigger cock.