Yesterday’s rejiggered line-up at the Republican National Convention delivered a meek improvement over the energy level of Monday's kickoff. The attack level, on the other hand, was amped up.
In keeping with the finely honed messaging tack of saying one thing, repeatedly, and doing another, the Republican speakers worked in their patriotic jabs at Barack Obama, despite earlier talking points about ditching partisan attacks at the convention to put on their “American hats” and support those weathering Gustav in the Gulf Coast.
Michele Bachmann—the Minnesota U.S. representative best known for ogling George W. Bush at his 2007 State of the Union and, more recently, explaining that we don’t need to save the environment from global warming because Jesus already saved the world—grinned big as she told the delegates:
Service isn’t a political trait—although some Presidential nominees certainly know more about service than others.
Joe Lieberman woke up from his keynote to call Obama a scaredy cat:
When others wanted to retreat in defeat from the field of battle, which would have been a disaster for the U.S.A. When colleagues like Barack Obama were voting to cut off funding for our American troops on the battlefield, John McCain had the courage to stand against the tide of public opinion, advocate the surge, support the surge, and because of that, today, America’s troops are coming home, thousands of them, and they’re coming home in honor.
And, perhaps most indicative of the Republican line of attack to come, former Senator Fred Thompson noted:
It’s pretty clear there are two questions we'll never have to ask ourselves [about John McCain], “Who is this man?” and “Can we trust this man with the presidency?”
Translation: Do we really know who this Barack Hussein Obama character is?
Tonight promises a higher energy level. The Republicans will get their own version of the “What will she do?” moment that buzzed the Democratic convention with dramatic anticipation before Hillary Clinton took the stage. In the Republicans’ rendition, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will step up to the podium amidst a swirl of recently unearthed backstories. How will she address her daughter’s pregnancy? Any word about sitting through a sermon about how Israeli Jews bring terrorist attacks on themselves for not accepting the Christian path? Or her own take that the United State’s escapade in Iraq was “God’s plan”? Or her affiliation with the Alaska Independence Party, whose founder hates America? And then there’s that Bridge to Nowhere she supported before she rejected it... and her status as a crusader against earmarks who brought in $27 million in earmarks for the town of 6,700 she governed?
In his convention speech, Obama plucked off each of the Republican talking points against him in rapid fire succession. But he had the time to craft that strategy. Given Palin’s hasty vetting process, it’s unlikely the Republicans will be able to put together such a comprehensive counter-offense. We’ll see tonight.
For more of Utne.com’s ongoing coverage of the Republican National Convention, click here.