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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

"The difference is pretty stark."

Jonathan Last in today's Daily Standard
New York - THE DIFFERENCE is pretty stark. The first night of the Democratic convention in Boston was a carnival of losers. It was dominated by Al Gore and Jimmy Carter, who both gave prominent speeches. The mood was one of studied, celebrated victimhood.

. . . the Republicans are concentrating on their winners, and the two big stars on display are Rudy Giuliani and John McCain, who are the future of the party.

. . . . Republicans are running an atypical campaign for an incumbent party. Instead of sitting back and playing defense, running on the president's record, they're drawing deep contrasts with Kerry, behaving more the way a challenger would. The distinction they are intent on making tonight is that Democrats are the September 10 party, and Republicans are the September 12 party.

Rudy Giuliani's speech etches that contrast into granite.

Giuliani is relaxed and presidential. He bobs between making light-hearted jokes about himself and forceful arguments about the war. In one passage he details the history of the appeasement of terrorists and does not flinch from laying blame on Germany (for their coddling of the '72 Munich terrorists), Italy (for its lapse in the '85 murder of Leon Klinghoffer), and the entire world of European sophisticates (for their awarding of the Noble Peace Prize to Yasser Arafat). "Before September 11, we were living with an unrealistic view of the world," he says. It is a frank, unvarnished, and powerful passage. Americans have not heard anything like it in many years.
See also Lileks on the speech:
. . . what Giuliani did was completely typical: aggressive graciousness. It’s why people who disagree with many of his positions admire him greatly, and why he spoke Monday night. And dang: he was good. He was hard: first time I’ve heard someone get up and slam Arafat by name in such a context. A sharp elbow at Germany. A Kerry section played mostly for laughs. An amazing last 10 minutes - dodged nothing. It was like watching a blacksmith at work while he whistled opera.

I liked the Sept. 14 anecdote, where a construction worker at Ground Zero gives Bush a big hug. He had told the President what he thought should be done to the terrorists, and had used construction worker language. “I can’t tell you what he said – this is the Republican convention,” Giuliani said. Big laugh. A wink and a nod: we cuss, we just don’t do it in front of the children and horses. The president responded to the suggestions by saying “you’re right!” and the construction worker, overwhelmed by the moment, embraced Bush in a spine-cracking hug. A Secret Service agent, already annoyed that the President was staying too long in this unsafe place, said “if this guy hurts the president, Giuliani, you’re finished.”

For some reason, I think that tale has more relevance to modern times than the resuscitation of a hamster.

And even Andrew Sullivan has some nice things to say:
You just cannot imagine a story in which a huge, ham-handed construction worker would ever give John Kerry a big, warm bear-hug. Or that John Kerry would answer a long disquisition from a man in a hard-hat and feel satisfied to respond with two simple words: "I agree." Again, Giuliani reminded us of why we tend to like George W. Bush. (Personally, I'd rather have pins stuck in my eyes than endure a conversation with John Kerry, but I'd love to hang with Bush.) All of this matters. A president in wartime needs to be able to connect with people. Bush can. Kerry can't.

If all this reliving of Giuliani's speech is getting monotonous for you, you can switch over to Michael Moore in USA Today: The GOP doesn't reflect America.