Skip to comments.Convention Success: I Was Wrong
Posted on 09/07/2004 11:58:12 AM PDT by FlyLow
It is hard for this old, hard-bitten political commentator to admit he was wrong, but I must do so. I have been highly critical of the Bush campaign for the primetime line up they initiated for the Republican Convention in New York.
The big tent has people of divergent views. It just seemed to me that people whose views were not compatible with the GOP platform were being put out there front and center whereas the stalwart conservatives were relegated to time slots that only C-SPAN junkies would see. I made my views known in a commentary that was picked up by the New York Times and then, in turn, by lots of other media.
As a result, even during the Convention (which I did not attend for the first time since 1964), I had many inquiries about how I felt about the line-up. Of course, because I now have praise for the White House and Bush campaign officials who designed the Convention, I am confident that the New York Times will not mention a word of it.
The truth is their line-up worked. The convention was a success. How much of a bounce President Bush will get remains to be seen, but I would be very surprised if it were not several points.
It is a pity that former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is not pro-life and does not support traditional marriage. If he did take traditional positions on these issues, I surely could support him for the Republican nomination in 2008. His brilliant speech highlighted a toughness that is required in a President these days. And he was not afraid to take the campaign to the opposition.
Even Senator John McCain (R-AZ), for whom I have little respect as a Senator, was an appropriate counterpoint for Giuliani. He is a friend of John Kerry. Indeed Kerry's first choice as his running mate for Vice President was John McCain, not John Edwards. McCain said no. He did not attack his friend, but he praised the President in glowing terms. The two speakers together made two sides of the same coin. Well done.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was mesmerizing. Usually during these political speeches I find my mind wandering. I often have to snap back to the speech at hand lest I miss something important.
During the California Governor's speech, I sat glued to the set waiting for his next words. It is true that his story was more personal, but the way he related it to the president and to the Republicans in general was absolutely first rate.
For the past several weeks, the media has been putting Governor Schwarzenegger on a pedestal because he supposedly was one of the moderates the party was putting forth to mask its right-wing image. The media must have been aghast as the governor identified what Senator Hubert Humphrey was advocating in 1968 as "socialism." Much of it was, of course, but that word is never spoken in polite circles.
And then to mention that it was no less than Richard Nixon who caused the governor to identify with and join the Republican Party! Good Lord. The media hates Nixon almost as much as they hate Bush. Moreover, I haven't heard Nixon's name mentioned at a GOP Convention since 1972, when he was nominated for a second term. He resigned two years later in disgrace.
What the governor gave us was undiluted conservatism. And he strongly endorsed the president and Republicans in general. As the son of an immigrant, in my case from Germany and not Austria, I felt the governor spoke directly to the immigrants who came to this country almost penniless and who used their God-given talents and the freedom we have in this country to make it -- in some cases to make it big.
Right now the governor has a 69% approval rating in California. Bush is at around 39%. No doubt by embracing the president, Gov. Schwarzenegger will have lost a few points.
Most politicians in a similar position would have found themselves too busy to come to New York. I hope he agrees to campaign for the president frequently. He probably can't help Bush carry California, but elsewhere, no doubt, he can be an extraordinary asset.
I heard so much criticism of the Bush daughters. Even some local conservative talk show hosts dumped all over them. Sure, they could have been more serious. True, they could have been less nervous. I didn't think they were all that bad, for what it's worth.
Then there is Laura Bush, who is such a nice lady. When I contrast her with Mrs. Heinz Kerry, Laura Bush is the class act. Teresa Heinz Kerry's speech to the Democratic Convention was all about Teresa. Laura Bush's speech was all about the president.
Senator Zell Miller (D-GA) must be having quite an impact. I say that because on Thursday morning, Democratic talking points suggested that Miller had only made this speech to sell his book. Inasmuch as none of them has any real convictions, they can't be expected to understand someone, like Miller, who has them.
Today, prominent Democrats in Georgia are suggesting that Zell Miller is mentally ill. I kid you not. Former Iowa Rep. Fred Grandy pointed out that accusing people of mental instability is what the Communists did when someone defected from the party. "Obviously he had to be mentally ill or he wouldn't have done that," is what they said. Indeed, that is what they said about Boris Yeltsin when he dissolved the Soviet Union.
The Democrats (and Sen. John McCain) claim that Miller's anger was so excessive that he will lose votes for the Republicans. Not from what I've been hearing. I think Zell Miller cost the other side big time. Democrats charge that the GOP is always guilty of slander and now they come up with this about Miller. I wish most of the Senate was as sane as he is.
Having Vice President Dick Cheney follow Senator Miller allowed Cheney to be almost dispassionate. Had there been no Miller, the Veep would have had to be an attack dog. This way Cheney's dignity remained intact.
The film, which former Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN) narrated to introduce the president, was okay. Frankly, I thought it could have been better. The president knows many interesting, ordinary citizens who could have had a role in this film.
As to the president's speech, it was good but not great. His plans for a second term are attractive. His gesture toward social conservatives was most welcome, especially what he said about the unborn.
The speech had only a few memorable lines. Most folks probably won't recall much of it, except for this: He looked presidential. He looked as if he had confidence in himself. He looked like the sort of person you would hire to keep you safe. In that sense, the speech was a rousing success.
Just one more point: In addition to being critical of the line-up of speakers, I was also critical of the selection of New York as the site of the Convention. I was wrong there, too. It did turn out to be the right place.
It did remind us what a presidential run is all about. So to the organizers of this Convention, including Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie, Ken Mehlman and many others too numerous to name: Good work, guys. You were right and I was wrong.
Now go prove me wrong about the election.
(Paul M. Weyrich is chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.)
Yet another "misunderestimation" of President Bush.
It is a pity that former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is not pro-life and does not support traditional marriage. If he did take traditional positions on these issues, I surely could support him for the Republican nomination in 2008.
Hes also a BIG believer in the only the cops need guns school of thought.
You know what cracks me up? Democrats saying that Miller turned off Republicans! Yea, there's nothing Republicans hate more than a fiery speech at a convention!!!
I agree with Weyrich.
Is that the guy from "The Love Boat"?
LANDSLIDE VICTORY FOR BUSH!!!
Yep, that's Gopher his own self.
Yes. "Gopher," as memory serves.
Wow, for once I completely agree with Paul Weyrich. Every word.
"You know what cracks me up? Democrats saying that Miller turned off Republicans!"
Zell Miller only confirmed what millions of Reagan Democrats across the country already knew. I'm one - I watched Zell and nodded along, saying "its about time this was said in public".
Yup, that would be Gopher....
Okay, sorry. Always remind myself to refresh before posting to make sure that a question hasn't already been answered 27 times before I answer...
So it was Gopher then? Anyway thanks to all for responding. From this I am guessing he is a Republican. Cool.
Thanks for posting this. Weyrich is a big man indeed to admit he was wrong.
You chose to criticize the president during this time of grave peril to the United States and yes, to the world.
Back in 1999, just before Bush started running for office, Weyrich put out a screed recommending that Christians retreat from politics and political discussion.
I don't doubt that some of the low turnout among evangelicals in 2000 was due to Weyrich's goofy advice.
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