Thursday, July 29, 2004
Listening to today's Democratic convention:
  • Wesley Clark - missed most of the speech, but the end certainly seemed effective. That was quite some applause.
  • Nancy Pelosi - standard Democratic boilerplate. The reference to electing a Democratic House and having "the first woman Speaker" seemed awfully self-serving. The wooden delivery of "the Democrats have it right" seemed overwrought, but I get the idea. The "we can do it" part actually sounded desperate. "No, really guys, we can do it! Honest!"
  • Madeleine Albright - a very good speech, full of messages that the Democrats need to stress. What struck me, though, was the barely-audible applause to her assertions that Kerry would not seek approval from the world, or how America is a shining light to the world. You could practically hear some of the delegates whispering, "Jingoistic wench! Go read Chomsky!"
  • Kerry sisters - OK, what is this, a funeral? Maybe it's just me, but these "just-us-folks" and "my-daddy-is-nice" stories from millionaire career politicians grate. And uhh, the hamster story? What in the. . .?
Time for Kerry.

Update: Oops, I guess it was time for the Kerry family movie. Well-done parts: personal interviews, which made him seem much more human and less imposing and aloof than he's generally appeared. Talking about the births of his daughters and his relationship with his wife certainly was well-done. Vietnam service references were well-done. Post-Vietnam activism was also well-done, which is to say, very well whitewashed. No mention of accusing his fellow soldiers of war crimes; just carefully selected sound clips of Kerry ruefully asking, "Where are our leaders?" The ending fell apart, I thought, as it began to sound like a pre-packaged political ad: the farmer with a tractor, the diverse children, the waving flag, etc. A mistake, in my view: it instantly undid the rest of the film by reminding me that I was watching a political ad.

Update II: Wow, they are really driving home the war-hero point, aren't they? The Green Beret whose life Kerry saved certainly will carry well, and it is hard to disregard Max Cleland, upbeat and enthusiastic, despite having to power a wheelchair with his only limb. Well, these men deserve that respect; regardless of their political views, they served well and suffered much, and the Bush campaign will have to dance around this very gingerly. Background thought: the Democrats sure managed to keep the hard-core anti-Vietnam "baby-killer" rhetoric silenced, no?

Update III: Uh-oh, Cleland went into shaky-voice-rant mode... Bad. Change of image from inspiring war hero to grump-on-a-soapbox was instantaneous. Also, one reference to a band of brothers is powerful. Two is overdoing it. Three is annoying. And this story about a Bible and those "kinda long, sad, eyes" sounds artificial and sappy. . . .Whoa, "a man called by destiny"?? He's a war hero and a politician, not a comic book superhero. What next, a halo?


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