I remember when the O.J. trial was going on. I was about 13 or 14 years old during the process. I was hooked on the stuff. This was the gift that kept on giving, in my mind. I watched this stuff, and read about it. When it was all said and done, I read all the books on it. I totally bought in.
The prosecution gave it's case first. It took, I wanna say, about 3 months for them to call all their witnesses and to introduce all their evidence. When it was all said and done, and Marcia Clark said that the prosecution rested, I was absolutely convinced that O.J. Simpson was the guiltiest son of a bitch who ever walked the face of the earth.
The defense had their turn, and they took at least as long as prosecution did. They through out possibility after possibility. They jumped around, made faces, and distracted everyone. When they were done I was convinced that O.J. had been framed by a racist LAPD who saw a black man who'd prospered and set out to get him.
For months on both sides, I was inundated with one perspective, and they convinced me that they were right simply because they were the only ones talking.
Maybe because the news is all Republican all the time this week is why I'm feeling this way, but I don't like the way the wind is blowing. The Republicans today put up largely a puff piece. There was very little said by any prime time speaker today that couldn't have been said by a Democrat with equal results. Well, except for one Arnold line, but that is all. Already, however, they seem to be more on point, more on message, and more effective at what they are saying. The Democratic convention had a tough time riding the Vietnam service and then making it appear that Kerry is an effective leader today. They had a hard time reconciling the fact that we are a United America, as in barrack Obama's speech, and Two Americas, as in the John Edwards speech.
The Republicans have no such trouble as of yet. They've been cheerleaders and preachers for their message, but they've been on point too. They've had some red meat in their speeches and they've attacked John Kerry quite a bit, but not so much as to appear that is all they had. Whereas the Democrats made a point of not Bush-bashing, the Republicans are staying on the message that they've had the whole campaign, and that message includes bashing Kerry.
They are amazingly effective.
I don't know if I'll feel differently in two weeks, when the news is about both candidates again, and not just one, but for now I sense things are tipping in Bush's favor.
Here's hoping the Democrats have a bloody glove or a racist policeman up their sleeve.
The Bush twins were just awful. The person that wrote their material, heard them deliver it, and then said "yeah, they are good to go for a national audience" has to be out of a job right now. Advantage Kerry sisters.
I said it during the DNC, and I'll say it now: Both Larry King and Bob Dole have stayed the spotlight way past their prime. Bob Dole is the crotchety-est of all crotchety old men, and Larry King, I swear the next time he asks an actual, substantive question will be the first time in a long time.
I think this is an insight into the mindset of the conservative right. Elizabeth Dole, in her speech, said this:
The presidency tests all who have been there. It has tested you, sir. Your road has not been easy, your burden has not been light. Yet you have displayed the peace that surpasses all understanding. We salute you.
Now, in ancient Hebrew, "Peace that Surpasses all Understanding" was the translation for one of the names of Yahweh. George Bush is to be thought of as some sort of divinely appointed supreme.
I saw the movie 'Hero' last night. It is a stunning film, as beautiful as any you will see. There is a highly controlled visual style to the movie, and it makes the movie watchable. If I had one complaint about the cinematographic aspect of this movie, it is that sometimes it seems a bit too controlled. Like someone is saying "Look what I can do, ma!"
The story seemed a bit wooden to me, although that may be because I'm not as fluent in some Chinese archetypes, and therefore the story was a bit too stoic for me: As if Spock was telling the story of the founding of his civilization. It tells the story of Nameless, played by Jet Li, who is brought before the emperor, heralded for his exploits in dispatching of the three most dangerous assassins who daily threaten the emperor's life. The King is eager to hear how this unknown warrior could possibly have done what all his palace guards have never been able to do.
This is where the story begins, as Nameless recounts for the King his exploits. As the conversation goes on, different points of view of the same story are told, with ever altering details. It becomes apparent that, in the telling, this is how legends are born. The stories change slightly, and the characters take on inhuman proportions. This story becomes the tale of the beginning of the China, but it is a mythological, legendary version of the story.
I loved the use of color in the different stories, each color themed to give the viewer subtle insight into the veracity of each particular story. When the enemy is dressed in red, for instance, it is easy to view them as bloodthirsty and brutal, but when they are in blue, their demeanor changes.
These stunning visuals make for a work of art that drifts in front of your eyes. It doesn't have the effortlessness of 'Crouching Tiger,' or the well-drawn characters of 'Rashomon,' but it is a good companion to the two.
Here in 2004, George W. Bush is running for reelection on a platform of tragedythe single greatest failure of national defense in our history, the attacks of 9/11 in which 19 men with box cutters put this nation into a tailspin, a failure the details of which the White House fought to keep secret even as it ran the country into hock up to the hubcaps, thanks to generous tax cuts for the well-fixed, hoping to lead us into a box canyon of debt that will render government impotent, even as we engage in a war against a small country that was undertaken for the presidents personal satisfaction but sold to the American public on the basis of brazen misinformation, a war whose purpose is to distract us from an enormous transfer of wealth taking place in this country, flowing upward, and the deception is working beautifully.
The first day of the convention is kicking off, and watching it today, something seemed to be clarified for me a bit. This campaign over the past few months has been largely about Vietnam: Where you were during it, What you did in it, and what you were afterwards. As John McCain gave a solid, quiet speech about the War on Terror, it became a bit clearer for me why Republicans have been so much better at appearing strong on terror, rightly or wrongly.
The Vietnam connection is the largest part of it. Because I personally look back at Vietnam as a failed war, and an example of the worst kind of American military might being used to promote our own self-interest, it has been hard for me to understand why people don't view it the same way. But many, many do, I suppose, and for them, the people that came back and protested were the worst sort of people for forsaking their brothers in arms still dying in the war.
John Kerry was one of these people. Let us leave aside the issues of what happened in the war and what George W. Bush was doing at the same time. The part of this that keeps Vietnam in the forefront of this election is that John Kerry came back an Antiwar protester and George W. never did.
What the Republicans have been so skillfully accomplishing is equating John Kerry's antiwar rhetoric in the 60's and 70's and turning it into the issue of "John Kerry wants to stand idly by and let terrorists run rampant."
And the Democrats have been unable to combat it. They've been unable to really get the message out that they want to go after terrorists as much as the Republicans, we just wanted it done a different way than the route this president has taken.
This is the central issue in the minds of the American voters. Not supposed flip-flopping, not failed and misleading intelligence. It isn't war medals and it isn't 7 minutes in a Florida classroom. It is about who the people perceiving that one candidate is strong on terror, and one is not.
I thought it was an interesting argument that Rudy Giuliani made that there are times when it is more important to stress Republican ideals than Democratic ideals. It is a simple statement, but with interesting implications. It is almost as if he is saying that if you want to be cared for, trust a Democrat, but if you want someone to kick ass, that is a Republican, and now is a time for kicking ass. I have huge problems with that, but it is an interesting argument.
Giuliani's speech was rousing, and he is a good model to stand up in front of a national audience, because we all saw him act with such great calmness and decisive action. That is something that can never be taken away with him, and he was able to feed off of that and channel it into his speech. This was as inspiring a speech to his audience as Barack Obama's was to mine.
And I will say this, there was some red meat in Giuliani's speech, and that can't really be said for the Democratic convention.
It is clear that the war drum will be the central message of this convention, if Day 1 is any indication. John McCain is the perfect person to be leading this effort off, and he was effective to that end, and Dems are going to have to find a way to show, in the remaining 60 days, that they are just as fevered in their desire to stop terror as Republicans.
And they need to do it quickly.
A few side notes. I'm not sure that giving Michael Moore any inch of the spotlight in your own convention is sound political strategy. The movie is starting to fade away a bit, and all McCain did is to give him another day of his name in the news and his face on talk shows. That one line (or the same line twice, as McCain joked that it got such a good response from the Conservative crowd that he wanted to use it again) shows me just how worried the Republicans really are about Fahrenheit 9/11.
It is strange to me the method that the convention is taking of bringing in popular Republicans (i.e. George H.W., Dick Cheney), announcing them to the audience, and then just having them sit in their box seats. I suppose it is an attempt to show the pedigree of the President. I actually read today that a British historian has been able to trace the amount of royalty in the lineage of each candidate, and that John Kerry has more. This is uninteresting except that every single one of the previous presidents this country has had, have more royalty in their bloodline than the person they were running against. I'm don't think that is the reason they seem to have H.W. sitting by watching the proceedings like an elder statesman, but it is interesting.
Next time you want to have someone sing Amazing Grace on a national stage, you might wanna have the guy be able to hold his key during the song. That third stanza was a freak show. The former music major in me cringed while simultaneously imagining I was in recital lab and I could feel vastly superior to the person on stage.
Hey, listen. I was wondering... do you think that you could mention just once about the time when George Bush stood up at Ground Zero and said "I can hear you, and soon the people who did this will hear us"? Because I really like that story, and I just wish that someone would mention it once. Seriously. Think that is the image that they want voters to have when standing at the polls at all and not 7 minutes in Florida?
I do not for ONE SECOND believe that in the middle of the 9/11 attacks, as Rudy Giuliani is trying to find safety, he turned to his police commissioner and said "Thank God, George Bush is our President," and if you do, then I absolutely want you to vote for Bush, if only so I can make sure that I am distanced that much further from you.
Ok, I'd have said this during the DNC also, but what the HELL was that overly-synthesized version of Van Halan's "Jump" that George Bush Sr. entered on? For a second I zoned out and was transported to the 80's, in which a convention must have included an image exactly like that. Scary.
Bill Maher, on his HBO show this weekend had an interesting exchange with Chris Matthews. They talked about how both of their shows have been blackballed in some ways, because they will always ask a follow up question when they don't get an answer to their original question. They said that often, many politicians won't go on these shows because they know that they can't just stay on the talking points and get through the interview unscathed. With that being said, I give you this quote, from this morning. A statement which just begged for a follow up question:
As he prepared to accept his party's nomination for a second term in office this week, President Bush said the war against terrorism must be fought but that it's not likely to ever end.
"I don't think you can win it," the president said, when asked if the war on terrorism can be won. "But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world."
Your President just said publicly that the war on terror is not able to be won. Debate the merits or intent of the quote all you want, but for Matt Lauer to stand by and just let that pass without so much as a mild follow up question is an affront to proper journalism. It is this sort of journalism that has made our political system what it is today: A scripted, polished, dishonest system which fosters one sentence, simplistic answers and stifles real conversation and actual debate.
After he left a comment on my post, I ran across Everything is Wrong with me, and it's author, Jason Mulgrew, self-proclaimed "quasi-internet celebrity." Having recently discovered the wonders of wireless connectivity, and struggling to find adequate words to describe how it has changed my life so, I found his thoughts on the subject perfect:
Wireless internet is changing my life. Good lord - you're telling me I can actively download pornography while pooping, and not make a huge mess at my desk while in the process? Oh boy!