Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Arnold Reads His Lines

The Governor of California, featured along with First Lady Laura Bush on "Compassion Night" of the Republican National Convention, did a workmanlike job in lending his glamor and moderate reputation to George W. Bush. As he said at the beginning of the speech, it was sorta like an Oscar Ceremony, and on this stage as in the Academy Awards, he didn't win any big prizes.

The most interesting part of Arnold's pitch was something that's emerging as the major theme of this convention: the conflation of America with its president, and the identification of patriotism with Republicanism. America's a great place, so it must have a great chief executive. Americans have been reminded of their pride in their country since 9/11, so America must re-elect the guy who was given the opportunity to emblemize that pride immediately after 9/11. Republicans are more jingoistic than Democrats, so voters feeling a bit more jingoistic than in the past should vote Republican. It's simple, and simple-minded stuff, but it's clearly what Karl Rove thinks will win.

Arnold didn't pay much attention to John Kerry, though both his references to the opposition were guaranteed media play because they included allusions to his movie career: the "True Lies" shot at the Democratic Convention, and the inevitable "girly man" line about Democratic critiques of Bush's economic record. It's interesting, if you think about it. In 2000 Republicans whined about the few dark corners they could find in the dazzling economic record of Bill Clinton, but nobody accused them of a lack of patriotism. This whole GOP Convention is about making George W. Bush so intimately connected with post-9/11 national pride that voters are literally unwilling to use their minds in assessing the incumbent's record.
-- Posted at 10:49 PM | Link to this post | Email this post

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