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Sep 1, 2004 3:13 pm


A Tale of Two Conventions



There is a fundamental difference between the Democratic and Republican conventions. The Democrats were united around a candidate; the Republicans are united around a candidate and a theme. During the convention’s first two days, GOP speakers pounded home the message and Bush and only Bush and the resolution and vision to protect the nation from terrorism and promote freedom and opportunity in the United States and worldwide. And the Republicans had effective messengers: John “tell it like it is” McCain, Rudy “I lived through 9-11” Giuliani, Arnold “macho man” Schwarzenegger, and Laura “bring it down home” Bush. To paraphrase H. G. Wells, they also learned that if you repeat something often enough people might even come to think it is true.

In effect, the Republicans have been able to do anything they want at their convention because Kerry –contrary to the strong advice offered here – did nothing at his convention to put policy pressure on the Bush administration. There is nothing now on the table that the GOP has to answer for, so they have a free hand in New York.

Finally, there is talk among Democrats that the Kerry campaign needs to be retooled. But the answer, as always, is to bring on more hucksters and more consultants. Instead, Kerry should be firing the hucksters, tearing up the scripts, and boldly presenting his ideas for the country. Kerry is perfectly capable of doing all this if he can just escape the grip of the conventional wisdom. However, unless Kerry shakes up the race and soon he may be doomed to becoming another Michael Dukakis, not just a loser, but an irrelevant loser.


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Mark Daniels - 9/3/2004

The Democrats in convention paid heed to what voters (including me) have been saying: They're sick of the negative politics, the attack rhetoric.

The Republicans seemed to discount that and instead, unleashed Zell Miller, Dick Cheney, and others. (By contrast, President Bush's convention criticisms of John Kerry, nestled in his acceptance speech like green peppers in a garden salad, seemed tame and gentlemanly.)

The upshot? A double-digit lead for the President on the day after the Republican convention. Registered voters, at least, may give lip service to kinder and gentler politics, but seem to be drawn to the candidate most able to look and talk like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But even if that's true, I suspect that there is an ever-increasing number of non-voting, though eligible Americans, part of whose reason for opting out of the political process is their disgust with attack politics, which in truth is practiced by both parties.