All hat

all hat

No cattle

This is the week that George W goes to New York City, the first capital of the United States, to be annointed Republican candidate for president.

The Republican convention is a costume ball, and not just in the sense that there are a lot of people wearing cowboy hats who have probably come no closer to a horse than an occasional horse's ass. As has become their quadrennial habit, the party puts on its sheep's clothes and masquerades behind moderate frontmen like Arnold — "don't be economic girlie men" — Schwarzenegger, Rudy — let me remind you about 9/11 — Giulianni, and First Lady Laura — so much sweetness it makes your teeth ache — Bush.

Arnold Schwarzenegger addresses the Republican convention

Arnold gave a rousing performance and explained that he became a Republican because of Richard Nixon. (Well, at last! Somebody finally mentioned the name of the 37th president.) He extolled the virtues of the Republican party and how welcoming it was to immigrants without so much as an allusion to the fact that the party platform writers had nearly succeeded in putting a strong anti-immigrant plank in the Republican party platform, and not to mention that once in office Arnold immediately rescinded the issuing of driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants in California. Compared to most of his movies, it was a marvelous performance.

Barbara and Jenna Bush

And let's not forget the Bush twins, Barbara and Jenna, who introduced their father who, by television feed from Pennsylvania where he's campaigning again for the gazillionth time this season, introduced Laura. One couldn't help but make a comparison with the Kerry offspring, biological and by marriage, whose charm, poise, and sharp intellect were obvious while performing similar introductive roles at the Democratic convention a few weeks ago. Suffice it to say that the comparison was not kind to the Bushettes.

This White House is known for its theatrical staging of presidential events. W's introduction by video was no exception. His presence glowed from the proscenium, bathing the audience in the light of his being. It must have been a near spiritual experience.

W introduces Laura

purple-heart bandaids

And a word must be said about the conventioneers who have adorned themselves with the purple-heart bandaids, meant to suggest that John Kerry's itty-bitty wounds weren't worthy of his commendations, and that his Vietnam credentials are a fraud. This is pretty thin ice for a party whose candidate spent the Vietnam war safely flying fighter jets in the National Guard — when he bothered — thanks to a little help from Daddy's friends who moved him to the head of the line so he could avoid going to Vietnam, not to mention that the current Vice had "other priorities" then. I guess the Republicans have learned one thing while in New York — the word chutzpah.

All leadership

It is clear that the Republican convention is going to be all about "leadership," with nary a mention of where that leadership has taken us. How ironic that those who loudly criticized the Democratic convention for being all about Vietnam and ignoring Kerry's senate record, are now putting on a convention that ignores the "results" of the Bush administration.

Toles cartoon
Tom Toles, 1-Sep-04 (Click picture to enlarge.)

As Harold Meyerson put it in the Washington Post, "There is apparently not much to George W. Bush's presidency except his resolve. Judging by the speeches of Sen. John McCain and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani on the Republican convention's opening night, the president has no record whatever on matters economic, nor -- remarkably for a wartime president -- much of one when it comes to conducting the war in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein." (Washington Post, 31-Aug-04)