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If you had to describe Day Three of the RNC Convention in just one word, it would be “Partisan”. A three-hour torrent of attacks upon Democrats. One thing was clear, Republicans don’t want to work with Democrats, they want to dictate to them. So what if the next President will have a Democratically controlled Congress to deal with. After burning every bridge imaginable, they want you to elect a Republican President to undo all the damage of the LAST Republican President.

No photos tonight. Despite bigger name keynote speakers and Palin’s first appearance before a national audience, the crowd in the tiny 19,000 seat Xcel Center Arena didn’t appear to be any more packed than the night before. They’re holding their Convention in a shoebox, and they still can’t fill it. If you want to see what Wednesday nights’ attendance looked like, just go back to Tuesday’s photo.

Just about every speaker to address the skimpy crowd of roughly 20,000 reminded us of just how bad the economy is. Speaker after speaker talked about “current economic insecurity”, each conceding “the economy is struggling”. So naturally, you should want to elect another Republican? Understand? Me neither.

In addition, speaker after speaker promised McCain will “lower taxes”. Translation: Taxes… RIGHT NOW… are “too high” under Bush. Really? Have they told Bush this? Because I seem to remember a Republican President with Republican Congress for the first six years. Democrats haven’t “raised” taxes, so why then are taxes “too high“?

And, like every other Republican convention I’ve seen in the past 28 years, tonight’s convention was no different in one important regard: more minorities on stage than in the audience. But different from 2004 in one highly noticeable regard: THIS year, being a decorated veteran of Vietnam was something honorable, and qualified you to be President of the United States, while having no combat experience means you have no business being Commander-in-Chief. The 2004 Convention must have landed on “Opposite Day”. Someone should introduce the Republican Party of 2008 to the Republican Party of 2004 to see if they’d get along, being so polar opposite, yet both calling themselves Republicans, I’d love to hear the two groups debate each other. On second thought, maybe not. I hear that’s how black holes are formed.

So while Republican after Republican pushed the “bi-partisan, shmi-partisan” meme, PBS guest commentator Dick Armey made the “divided government” argument to encourage listeners to vote for McCain, because he will face a Democratically controlled Congress, “and government works better when the White House and Congress don’t belong to the same Party.” Can’t imagine for the life of me where Armey came up with the crazy notion that having a President and Congress of the same Party results in disaster, because that’s certainly not what they thought eight years ago… Hell, what am I talking about? That’s not what they thought TWO years ago!

One of McCain’s many “Chief Economic Advisers”, Carly “Let’s read employee email” Fiorina, promised McCain would “balance the budget by 2013”. Dream on. The budget WAS balanced before the current Republican President took office, balanced by his Democratic predecessor. Now, as ThinkProgress found, the economy would have to “grow at an unprecedented 8% a year for five straight years” to balance the budget by 2013. But factor in that McCain not only wants to make the Bush tax cuts permanant, but wants to cut taxes by an additional $300 billion, and that leaves you with a $650 billion dollar deficit. Add to that “staying in Iraq for 100 years”, maybe even expanding the war into Iran… I think you can see where this is going. Fiorina is either clueless or lying out her saggy Conservative bum. Wanna guess which?

Probably the creepiest Republican in existence, former Lt. Governor of Maryland and professional partisan hack Michael Steele, introduced the latest Republican catch phrase: “Drill baby! Drill!” to the Convention. “Drill baby drill, and drill now!” he told the now chanting crowd as he talked about “energy independence”. You know that creepy “proud of myself for making a funny” smile of McCain’s? The smile of someone that obviously hates to smile, but does so only because he knows he has to? That’s Michael Steele.

Next up is Mitt Romney, the first runner-up behind McCain for the GOP nomination. Romney was a partisan attack machine on stage. For Mittens, Republicans could do no wrong and Democrats could do no right. Romney thinks what is wrong with the Republican Party is that it’s not partisan enough. Clearly, Democrats have no place on Planet Romney.

Some choice observations by Lord Mittens:

  • “If you really want change, you should look for the Sun to rise in the West… Arizona & Alaska.” (Yes, Mitt, you keep looking for that sun to rise in the West.)
  • “We need to change, from a Liberal Washington to a Conservative Washington!” (George Bush has been just too damn Liberal for Mitt’s tastes. The crowd must agree, based upon how wildly they all cheered.)
  • “Time for the Party of big ideas, not big government.” (Big ideas… like invading Iraq, Mitt? You guys certainly are the Party of BIG ideas!)
  • Mitt stressed the need for a government with “…a Tyrannosaurus appetite for unions”. (Republicans HATE unions! Anything that gives workers equal power to employers: BAD!)
  • “Just like you, there was never a day I wasn’t proud to be an American.” (A thinly veiled referrence to Michelle Obama’s expression of new found pride while on the campaign trail. So the WIVES of candidates are fair game now, Mitt? Just wanna get the ground rules down before I go off on that husband-stealing drug addict Cindy McCain.)

PBS commentator David Brooks noted after Romney’s speech: “He drifted so far Right, my mind is boggling.” “It was obviously a rough-draft of his 2012 speech for after McCain loses.”

Following Mittenstein was Mike Huckabee:

  • “Americans don’t want *more* government, they want *less* government”, a meme echoed by Romney. Again, I ask: “We have too much government in our lives right now? Remind me again… who’s in power?”
  • McCain doesn’t want to control your lives “…or even dictate to you how much to inflate your tires” (crowd laughs & cheers). One has to wonder, do these people take pride in being wasteful and stupid? Some delegates had to put down their “Environmentalists for McCain” posters to applaud the Hucksters attack on fuel economy.

Huckabee then tells the “Desks” story. If you’re like me, you’ve probably gotten this silly Right-wing e-mail in your inbox at least once. It relates the story of a teacher that removed all the desks until the students guessed how to earn them back, only to have them later returned by a parade of veterans, which the teacher said the Vets had already “earned” for them. It’s a true story. Doesn’t make a lick of sense to me, but it’s true, and Huckabee’s retelling left many in the crowd with tears in their eyes. I can understand Vets “earning the students’ freedom” or “securing their way of life”, but how do vets secure the childrens’ right to an education? Soldiers can fight and die all day, but that wouldn’t stop Republicans from privatizing the public school system and denying millions of poor children from being able to afford a decent education, so I’m mystified as to the reasoning behind the story… but there’s no question in my mind why Huckabee pandered with the patriotic flag-waving pro-vet story.

After Hucky, the Governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle, was brought on to tell us ALL ABOUT her good friend and fellow governor Sarah Palin… whom she had met all of ONCE at a governors convention. Lingle repeatedly slammed home the point that, as a governor, Palin has “Executive Experience“. “Their Party’s Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates have NO Executive Experience at all! None! Zero!” (crowd chants “Zero! Zero!”) Uh, Ms. Lingle? By that reasoning, neither does McCain.

Lingle went on to compare Palin’s qualifications to Joe Biden’s. She noted that Alaska and Deleware have “the exact same number of delegates”, “and you can fit 250 Delewares in Alaska.” And much like the “Palin has National Security cred because Alaska is next door to Russia” argument, Lingle made the “Palin is qualified to lead the country because Alaska is physically large” argument, which also seems to make sense to these people. Uh huh. Whatever.

“Washington in broken!” she proclaimed, “and needs a reformer like Palin to fix it!” Again, yet another Republican reminding us of how our current Republican President, who had a Republican Congress for six years, “broke” Washington, and we therefore need to elect ANOTHER Republican to fix it. Riiiight! Ever take the milk out of the fridge, discover it had gone bad, and put it back saying, “Maybe it’ll be better tomorrow”? Same argument.

The big star of the night was next. Mr. 9-eleven himself, Rudy Giuliani, who would later introduce Governor Palin.

After a few smug jokes, Rudy starts with a metaphor: “Imagine you have two job applications” he began. Already, I’m thinking he’s making a huge gaffe, comparing the Harvard Educated, and President of the Harvard Law Review Obama to #895 of 899 military brat graduate McCain. But in Right-wing world where attacking an unarmed country has the moral equivalence of “making the world safe for Democracy”, just because you went to Havard, doesn’t make you more qualified than a “bottom of his class military brat”. Rudy continues: “You have the resume’s of two guys, with all the personal info blacked out. One guy has been tested and is a true American hero.” (…speaks at length of McCain’s distinguished service and… of course… was a POW). “The other guy… a gifted man with an Ivy League education. Worked as a community organizer (crowd ROARS with laughter, forcing Rudy to pause in surprise and laugh himself), became a state senator… and nearly 130 times he couldn’t make a decision. Yes or No? It was too tough. (So instead) He voted “present” (in the Illinois state legislature).” This is actually a common practice at the state level, allowing bills to pass that you may question, but believe is still deserving of passage. But Rudy has never served higher than Mayor and would not know of such things… nor would the Luddite GOP crowd.

Rudy, defending Palin, repeated the same ridiculous talking point made by at least a half dozen other speakers before him that night: Obama has “never run a city, state, military unit, or a city in crisis.” (gotta squeeze that 9/11 reference in, eh Rudy?) He obviously had to toss those last two qualifiers in there because neither he nor McCain meet that same threshold of “Executive Experience” that they set for Palin and were holding Obama to now. (And I’m not certain, but I believe McCain never actually LED a military unit either. So once again, a Republican Talking Point actually describes Republicans as much as the person they’re attacking).

When Rudy starts talking about “Energy Independence”, the crowd renews its “Drill baby, drill!” chant, started by Michael Steele earlier in the evening.

Other Rudy talking points:

  • “John McCain will keep us on offense at home and abroad.” (translation: more preemptive wars.)
  • “Who are they [worried about] insulting [when] they [won’t] say “Islamic terrorism”? Terrorists!” (ThinkProgress remarked on this comment right away. According to Rudy, anyone that practices in Islam is a “terrorist”. Why else would you not need to worry about using such a sweeping generalization such as “Islamic terrorists”? Who do you offend, Rudy? “Muslims“, and there are millions of good decent Muslims in the U.S. that don’t deserve to be lumped in with “terrorists” by virtue of their religion.

Rudy then goes on to conflates “the war in Iraq” with 9/11. “Harry Reid said “the war [in Iraq] was lost”. Then who won? Osama bin Laden & al Qaeda?”

Rudy prattled off a weak list of Obama’s “flip flops”. “[Obama] Was for a united Israel before he was against it. Was for FISA before he was against it”, etc. I REALLY don’t think Rudy wants to go down the “flip-flop” road.

Like a half dozen speakers before him, Rudy praises Palin’s “executive experience”: “On day one as mayor of that small town in Alaska, Palin already had more Executive Experience than Barack Obama & Joe Biden”… and John McCain. After hearing this for the sixth time, I began to think that maybe it was time they thought about flipping their ticket? Palin for Prez and Grampy for VP?

Finally, Palin herself comes on, greeted by a hugely enthusiastic crowd, by which point it was already clear from the way they built her up all night long, she wasn’t bowing out tonight.

Palin’s speech was clearly written for her with plenty of snappy digs at Obama peppered throughout. A canned speech. Extremely condescending for someone with a BS in journalism taking on two Harvard educated lawyers. Never-the-less…

First, Palin delivered a short bio on McCain and what made him “a great leader”. Nothing we hadn’t already heard all night long (POW references and all). Then she talked for a few minutes about “being a mother.” Definitely targeted to appeal to women voters, but (IMHO), a poor way to qualify yourself as being prepared to serve as President of the United States at a moments notice, or supply wise council to the man in the Oval Office. Discussing her family, she tells the crowd her husband Todd is “a fisherman” (the more astute among you probably realized this is a subtle Biblical reference that I’m certain was not lost on any Evangelicals in the crowd) and “a World Champion “snow machine” racer.” (Just how “famous“, I couldn’t tell you. All online mention of Todd seem to have appeared after Sarah was named John’s veep.)

“I was just your average hockey mom and signed up for the PTA.” I’m amazed no one in the McCain camp hasn’t yet told her to stop remarking on her “PTA” membership as a qualification for Vice President of the United States of America.

She informs us, “I’m going to Washington to serve this great country (instead of Washington’s interests)”. I guess someone finally filled her in on the job requirements of VP, since she now seems to know exactly what she’ll be doing when she arrives in Washington.

Palin made one comment I found VERY curious: “I championed that state fuel tax…” Absolutely NO response from the crowd whatsoever. “Championed” a fuel tax. Fought it? No, she’s talking about that “Windfall profits tax” McCain opposes that she placed on oil companies operating in Alaska. The crowd obviously wasn’t sure what to make of the idea their candidate seemed to be saying she fought FOR a fuel tax… which is exactly what she did,

Palin repeated the false claim that she “opposed the bridge-to-nowhere”. PBS Commentator Mark Shields noted this afterward, and wondered how it was going to play out, now that we know this claim is false.

“Our opponents say drilling won’t solve all our problems. Like we didn’t know that already (laughter from crowd). But it’s better than doing nothing at all.” The delegates applauded wildly, but I imagine that only the people in that room are so dumb and completely out of touch that they think the party of Gore has “no plan” to deal with the energy crisis. But according to Mitt, Rudy, and now Palin, if you’re not building nuclear reactors, supporting “clean coal” and drilling holes across the U.S. till the continent looks like Swiss Cheese, you have “no plan”.

Palin tells us, “Lobbyists don’t want McCain to win.” Really? Judging by the number of lobbyists working on the McCain’s campaign, one would think that they are very interested in seeing him win.

She called Senate Majority leader Harry Reid “the leader of the do-nothing Congress”. Actually, that’s a title well earned by the previous, 109th Republican controlled Congress. From CNN.com:

Of the 383 pieces of legislation that were signed into law during the two-year 109th Congress, more than one-quarter dealt with naming or renaming federal buildings and structures — primarily post offices — after various Americans.

She tells everyone, “There’s only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you.” Who? John Kerry??? Oops, wrong election. That was 2004, when being a veteran and a war hero was worthy of ridicule.

One thing was dead clear from Palin’s speech: Like Romney’s before her, not one single word about “bi-partisanship” or “working together with Democrats” was ever mentioned. To the contrary. Her speech was dripping with attacks and ridicule for Democrats. Because, Republicans don’t want to work WITH Democrats, they want to DICTATE to them just how things are going to be done.

All night, the Republican defense of Palin was that “She’s as experienced as Barack Obama.” Okay, but you’re claiming Barack Obama isn’t experienced enough to be president, so by your own definition, neither is Palin, and I’m not hearing anyone make THAT argument. If, heaven forbid, McCain were to suffer a catastrophic stroke after entering office, Palin would become president. Does that notion bother anyone else besides me? Palin, the former beauty queen, turned sportscaster, turned podunk mayor, turned governor of an isolated state with a population of 650,000, running the most powerful nation on Earth? The question shouldn’t be “is she qualified to be Vice President, the question should be “is she qualified to be President?” Because if she’s not qualified to be President on day one, then she has no business running for VP. I’ve heard several McCain spokespeople claim Palin is “the MOST qualified candidate for Vice President” there is. All I can think of when I hear that is, “Just who are you trying to convince? Me or yourself?” What if Palin had bowed out last night and had to be replaced? How would they then make the case that we should still vote for McCain and Palin’s “less qualified” replacement? I’m not hearing these arguments by my compatriots on the Left, and it’s ticking me off.

Tomorrow is John McCain’s big acceptance speech. Will we finally hear someone talk about working WITH Democrats, or will it be more partisan red meat for the Party faithful?

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