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Editors Note: You may have noticed me referring to the “DNC *Convention*” and now the “RNC *Convention*”. The “C” in both terms stands for “Committee”, not “Convention”, so it is not redundant. – Mugsy
Who Is John McCain? That was the theme of Day Two of the RNC Convention. Good question. Judging by the number of times his Prisoner of War status was mentioned, I think it is safe to say he was a “P.O.W.”. If you decided to turn the Convention into a drinking game and took a drink with every mention of “POW”, you would of been hammered just halfway in. Before the event, PBS’s David Brooks said he hoped they would talk more about McCain’s experience as a P.O.W.: “It’s a powerful story that most people haven’t heard since 2000“, he told viewers.

The first thing I couldn’t help but notice was just how EMPTY the 19,000 seat “Xcel Center” in St. Paul was:

The Empty Convention. A birds-eye view
RNC Convention crowd
(Click to enlarge)

Oversized press seats and Vacant benches
Oversized press seats and Vacant benches
(Click to enlarge)

Upper deck nearly deserted
Upper deck nearly deserted
(Click to enlarge)

The arena couldn’t of been much bigger than a basketball arena, and still they couldn’t fill the stands. I almost felt sorry for them… ALMOST.

I couldn’t help but wonder how many of those Conventioneers thought about the Minneapolis bridge that collapsed last year due to years of under-funding, as they crossed the same place in the river to get to the convention site… or how many of them used the same Minneapolis airport men’s room that Senator Larry “Widestance” Craig was arrested in for soliciting gay sex from an undercover police officer.

The Convention opened on a high note as GOP Chairwoman Ann Davidson opened the convention by announcing, “We are holding a convention to nominate a Republican woman, Governor Sarah Pawlenty, our next vice president.” That’s pretty bad when your own party chair-person can’t remember your VP nominee’s name (though she did correct herself in her next mention a few minutes later).

Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman was next, revealing that the city of St. Paul was originally named “Pigs Eye”. “Welcome to Pigs Eye!” was his opening line. (Would YOU vote for McCain? Not in a pigs eye.)

Next was a video collage featuring a 15 year old students’ reading of her 500 word essay on “What the American Flag Means to Me”. When she (inevitably) mentioned “9/11”, the producers of the video inserted footage of the second World Trade Center building collapsing, not just smoldering or in rubble after the fact, but actually in the process of killing thousands. Anyone else find that EXTREMELY offensive to use such footage for something so trivial as a young girls’ essay about the flag? The magnitude of the “bad taste” to use THAT particular footage would of shocked me if I hadn’t remembered just who was putting on this show.

All throughout the convention, they repeatedly honored “Service” and praised the military, but in ’04, these same “proud patriots” derided John Kerry’s service with Purple Heart band-aides. Delegates held up signs that read “Service” on one side and “Country First” on the other. “Country First”??? Well, in all fairness, no one said WHICH country. America? Iraq? Afghanistan? Whichever it is, we know which “Country Next”… that would be Iran. McCain and (especially) Rove the past few weeks claimed Obama was someone “who’d do anything to get elected, putting his own self interests ahead of the country”. First McCain picks Sarah Palin for VP… which panders heavily to Hillery-ites and the Religious Right, and then Wednesday, we learn the McCain campaign hired Tucker Eskew, the man that cost McCain the 2000 nomination with a racist push-poll in South Carolina about his adoptive black daughter. Does THIS sound like someone that’s putting “Country First” or his own self interest in “winning at all costs”? Just who’s putting “Country First”?

Former Presidential candidate turned political joke, Fred Thompson actually told us:

Now being a POW doesn’t qualify anyone to be President…

Yes, you heard right. When General Wesley Clark said almost EXACTLY THE SAME THING about McCain two months ago, Republicans went into hysterics, claiming Clark was “swiftboating” John McCain. But when Hollywood Fred says it, it leads to an applause line. You’d think SOMEONE would have told him not to use the line because it might make them sound like total hypocrites. Guess not.

Thompson praised the work of Republicans, giving them credit for the success of the Clinton Administration:

“In 1993, we went about rebuilding our military and balancing the budget.”

Only one problem: Clinton had only just entered office in 1993, so just who left them with a military that needed rebuilding? And is he saying the military was rebuilt by the time Clinton left office???, because that’s not what George Bush and the GOP have been claiming all these years. And Clinton’s budget cuts balanced the budget in 1999 thanks to a raging economy that left Washington swimming in tax revenue. So if “Republicans” deserve the credit for the balanced budget in ’99 and Clinton had nothing to do with it, what happened? Same Congress then gave us record deficits and doubled the national debt in under seven years. Again, what happened?

Next up was “Trader” Joe Lieberman, who called himself a “Democrat” no fewer than three times. He stressed the importance of “experience” “in these tough times” as why McCain is more prepared to be President than Obama. But when he got to Sarah Palin, it was all about her “judgment” in light of her lack of experience, which made her best suited “to fill McCain’s shoes” should anything happen to the Septuagenarian cancer survivor. Naturally, both Thompson and Lieberman perpetuated the “Palin is a maverick too” myth, repeating long debunked falsehoods of her opposition to the “bridge to nowhere” and “standing up to her own party”.

Probably the most astonishing achievement of Lieberman’s speech: getting the crowd to cheer the name “Bill Clinton” for… just as Thompson did… crediting Clinton’s success on “adopting Republican policies and balancing the budget”. The crowd cheered both “Bill Clinton” and “the 1990’s”. I kept looking for Rod Serling to appear in the corner of my screen.

One commentator posed the fascinating possibility that “as much as 75%” of Lieberman’s speech “may have come from his edited/unused VP acceptance speech.” In retrospect, I think he’s right.

They tried hard to slip Bush in before the telecast went national, putting Laura Bush on just 16 minutes before the hour, and giving her husband the remaining few minutes to recite his own comments. But, thwarted by applause, Bush was still on when the major networks joined in, who then helpfully backed up to the beginning of Bush’s comments and replayed them in full on national network TV. Drat! So close! You KNOW the GOP is in trouble when Laura Bush is given twice as long (10 minutes) to introduce her husband, who addressed the convention via remote from the White House, for a mere five minutes (you’ve got to give him credit though, he managed to slip in both a 9/11 AND POW reference in that short time. Masterful).

One thing was clear from this convention: Republicans are paranoid. The terrorists are “out to get them”, the media… by attacking Palin… is “out to get them”. Democrats “want their money”, and Obama will have your children pledging allegiance to Allah.

The RNC is telling everyone that the two Republicans… McCain & Palin… are “the REAL agents of change”, running against their own disastrous Republican President and a lapdog Republican Congress that destroyed the economy and broke the military. According to a McCain ad, “We’re worse off today than we were four years ago” (and the four before that too). But forget about those guys from the Party that did all those things you just cheered for. McCain/Palin are the REAL “Agents of Change”.