Loose Cannon or Secret Weapon — Part IX

Today, the breakfast of choice in the blogosphere is Democratic Sen. Zell Miller, whose maniacal speech last night to Republicans stole the show from Vice President Dick Cheney.

The reviews are largely blistering.

Conservative Andrew Sullivan describes the speech as “a critical moment in this campaign, and maybe the history of the Republican Party.”

I kept thinking of the contrast with the Democrats’ keynote speaker, Barack Obama, a post-racial, smiling, expansive young American, speaking about national unity and uplift. Then you see Zell Miller, his face rigid with anger, his eyes blazing with years of frustration as his Dixiecrat vision became slowly eclipsed among the Democrats. … His speech tonight was in this vein, a classic Dixiecrat speech, jammed with bald lies, straw men, and hateful rhetoric. …

Last night therefore was a revealing night for me. I watched a Democrat at a GOP convention convince me that I could never be a Republican. If they wheel out lying, angry old men like this as their keynote, I’ll take Obama. Any day.

T. Bevan at RealClearPolitics also felt a little squeamish at Miller’s bile, though he assumes the detached tone of a strategist assessing tactics:

Let’s be blunt: Zell wasn’t just angry last night, he was mad as hell. And he didn’t waste any time taking out the brickbat and swinging away. But as I watched from the floor I kept wondering, “is this speech too much, is Zell being too angry and too tough?”

… there is also a big difference between being seen as angry and being seen as mean. Politicians walk that line at their own peril, and the question is whether Miller crossed it last night.

The review from NewDonkey.com isn’t much different:

The Bushies supposedly thought Zell would help them win over swing voters. I have a hard time believing anybody was won over by this glowering rant. Not since Pat Buchanan’s famous “culture war” speech in 1992 has a major speaker at a national political convention spoken so hatefully, at such length, about the opposition.

But Steve H. at The Command Post was, for one, impressed (for why, perhaps, he shouldn’t have been, see FactCheck.org’s take on Kerry’s votes on weapons):

Listing the weapons Kerry voted against and the conflicts in which they have since been used, that was genius. I can think of no better way to make people understand that John Kerry should not be trusted with national security.

And just when you’re wondering if all life has stopped amid the serious business of the convention, here comes a thirsty Matthew Yglesias and friend to a local watering hole in search of a brewskie — and meaningful dialogue with the opposite sex.

Fortunately for his readers, Yglesias struck out.

Susan Q. Stranahan

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Susan Q. Stranahan wrote for CJR.