After a shaky start, the Republican National Convention picked up tempo by midweek. The party reached its high point on Wednesday, the 3rd of September, when John McCain's running mate, Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska brought the house down with her acceptance speech. McCain wrapped up the convention the next day with a patriotic story and a promise to "change" Washington during his own address. Those of us who watched the convention coverage on TV, saw the razzle dazzle and choreography of the orchestrated events. Now it is being reported that the GOP stagecraft wasn't exactly flawless. For example:
- Like any political gala designed to tug at the heartstrings of voters, the Republican convention was awash in symbolism and iconography, most of them easily understood. But for reasons that remained unclear for half a day, McCain delivered his acceptance speech before a giant image of Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood. Neither the audience in the hall nor TV viewers recognized the building or its particular significance in relation to the speech. The McCain campaign cannot explain why this particular school was used as the back drop on McCain's big night. Although the campaign won't admit it, it is now widely believed that the image that was intended to be there for patriotic symbolism was that of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. and not the school. The inept stage crew got the props mixed up and the principal of Walter Reed School is now unhappy that her school's photo was appropriated by the RNC without permission.
- When anti-war protesters interrupted McCain who peppered his speech with references to patriotism, honor and national security, he placated the audience thus:
"My friends, my dear friends ... please, please don't be diverted by the ground noise and the static," McCain said. "I'm going to talk about it some more, but Americans want us to stop yelling at each other."What McCain must have known but didn't say, is that the protesters, who were "escorted" out by security guards were not mere "ground noise and static". They were Iraq War veterans who have hounded McCain at other public events because of his support of the war but not of those who are fighting it.
- Sarah Palin delighted the audience at the convention with many homilies about her down-home, common sense, non-elitist approach to governing. One punch line that got thunderous applause was when Palin decried the unnecessary perks of the governor's office. "That luxury jet was over the top ..... I put it on eBay," she declared. But being the consummate stand-up comic that she has proved to be, Palin knew exactly where to end her narrative to elicit the loudest cheer. It turns out that she did "put" the plane on eBay but she did not "sell" it. The plane was later sold to a private buyer for $300,000 less than the asking price. Yet Sen McCain later told audiences during campaign stops that his running mate had sold the plane on the Internet for a profit.
- McCain spoke at length about fighting corruption, reducing the size of the government, defeating terrorists, cutting taxes and of honor and pride. He spoke more briefly about the economy, energy independence and education. On health care, he had only this to say:
My health care plan will make it easier for more Americans to find and keep good health care insurance. His [Obama] plan will force small businesses to cut jobs, reduce wages, and force families into a government run health care system where a bureaucrat stands between you and your doctor.
Perhaps McCain had so little to say on this issue because he doesn't really believe that health care is a problem for most Americans. John Goodman, a health care adviser to the McCain campaign has claimed that there are no "uninsured Americans" because everyone has access to the hospital emergency room. (McCain's campaign has now disassociated itself from Goodman)
Senator McCain has admitted that he doesn't understand economic issues very well. It is therefore not a surprise that he did not address the challenges facing the US economy in his speech. The day after the GOP convention ended, the US Department of Labor released a report showing that the US unemployment rate rose in the month of August to 6.1%, the highest in five years. Perhaps it is time for the McCain campaign to hire an economic adviser like Goodman who can redefine joblessness and declare, "There are no unemployed Americans; there are only persons of leisure with access to eBay where they can sell at a profit all the accumulated junk in their basement and make a living."
Post Convention Updates:
The Invisible Sarah: The upcoming Sunday talk shows will be bristling with the presidential candidates answering questions of reporters and making their case to the public. One candidate who will not speak to the media is Sarah Palin. The McCain campaign says that she will speak "directly to the American people."
Pray Away The Gay: The church attended by Sarah Palin has planned a conference to promote the conversion of homosexuals to heterosexuals through the power of prayer. The "Love Won Out" conference is scheduled for the 13th of September in Anchorage, Alaska.