Three Days of Bad Road: Reliving the Horror of the GOP 2008 Convention, Day 1

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With nine weeks or so until the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa gets underway. I thought it might be a good time to look back at the 2008 convention in all its insipid, infuriating, ignorant, phony, mean-spirited glory. This chronicle originally appeared at Daily Kos, Open Salon and Democratic Underground.

8:00 PM:

I’d understood that the convention was being held in St. Paul, but the folks in the crowd shots confirm that it’s actually being held in Squaresville.


8:04 PM:

David Brooks informs the PBS audience that it would be a mistake to skip over McCain’s history as a POW. He needn’t worry.


8:05 PM:

Bill Bennett reminds CNN viewers that James Madison never left the country, and that when Sarah Palin finally got a passport, she went not to Paris, but to Kuwait. No mention of her tarmac stop in Ireland, however.


8:12 PM:

From the podium, Norm Coleman threatens Republican Jihad on Middle America: “We’re going to paint the entire Mississippi watershed John McCain red!” Yikes!

Then tells dodgy story about Jefferson as lead-in to the curious and creepy refrain: “John McCain has a face that says ‘Yes’!”


8:20 PM:

Just saw an African American guy on the convention floor. Not sure why he was there.


8:26 PM:

Bill Bennett proclaims “the brooding omnipresence of Ronald Wilson Reagan.” Time for a bathroom break.

CNN interviews 19 y/o mayor of Muskogee, OK. Poor kid believes John McCain will keep him safe, says meeting Giuliani would “make my dreams come true.” These kids today.


8:28 PM:

Tucker Bounds tells Gwen Ifill that Palin has been “fully vetted” and she will “electrify the place” on Wednesday. Then runs out of Xcel Center before mean old Campbell Brown can tease him again.


9:22 PM:

Video tribute to GHW Bush claims “he helped put the ghosts of Vietnam to rest”. Not sure how this squares with the rest of the party doing their damnedest to achieve the opposite. Oh well.


9:24 PM:

Wolf Blitzer describes Barbara Bush as a “magnificent lady”. Bathroom break.


9:32 PM:

David Brooks: “Rush Limbaugh is no idiot.” What an idiot.


9:39 PM:

Former POW Orson Swindle introduces five Medal of Honor winners. First chants of “USA! USA!”


9:45 PM

It’s Pickles!!

She’s excited by the McCain/Palin ticket! She’s proud that the first female VP will be a Republican woman!! I have no idea who she was talking about.

Speaking about W, she notes: “A lot has changed in the last eight years.” Yeah, duh.

Pickles tells vets: “America honors your service and gives you our thanks.” CNN cuts to a yawning military man on the convention floor.

And now it’s time for Preznit Satellite. He says his duties have kept him in Washington tonight “overseeing hurricane relief”. Great relief felt in both St. Paul and New Orleans, undoubtedly.

W praises “two people of character, decency and integrity” then goes into a complete non-sequitur about his parents.

Talks about McCain. Geez, apparently McCain was a POW! W says “his arms were broken, but not his honor”. No mention of his 2000 primary attempts to paint McCain as dishonorable.


9:57 PM:

Bush still talking…

Mentions the “angry left”. Cindy McCain smiles. This leftist is now officially angry.

Surge is working. Dangerous world. Lessons of September 11. Man we need is John McCain.

Says 3 or 4 words about Sarah Palin. Something something something.

“Americans have always lived on the sunrise side of the mountain.” Why does George Bush hate the Americans who live on the other side of the mountain?


10:03 PM:

Pickles up again, praising Cindy McCain’s charitable work abroad. It’s apparent that Cindy has 100 times more foreign policy experience than Palin. I’m getting really confused.


10:04 PM:

It’s Gipper Time! Please, Gipper, don’t hurt ’em!

Video tribute to Reagan discussing his early years in politics. “Some dared breathe the word ‘maverick.'” Some dared breathe the word “jerk” too, but that doesn’t get a mention.

Replaced Carter’s indecision with “conviction politics”. If only Iran-Contra had resulted in conviction politics, I muse sadly.

“Ronald Reagan saved our America, saved our century and changed the world.” Hot damn, how come nobody ever told me about this before?


10:09 PM:

Fred Thompson is warmly applauded by the same people who ignored him back during the primaries.

Says Palin is a “breath of fresh air”. She’s “from a small town, with small town values” but the pundits have attacked her. Damn pundits! More: “Democrats and the media are in a state of panic!”

Reminds us that McCain was a POW! Very handy, since I’d just forgotten about that.

“If Roberta had been the McCain captured by the North Vietnamese, they would have surrendered!” In other words, John McCain isn’t as tough as a 93 y/o woman…

Fred launches into a sort of oratorical sequel to Passion of the Christ by detailing every injury McCain suffered. No charts and diagrams for those of us with a less than perfect understanding of anatomy. Says McCain took 8 trips to Iraq “seeking truth, not publicity”. A blatant attempt to discredit George W. Bush, who only took 2 trips there for publicity…

“McCain stood up, called for more troops, and now we’re winning!” Chants of “USA! USA!”

Says Senate has its share of “smooth talkers and big talkers”. Seems like a nasty reference to Orrin Hatch, but maybe I’m wrong.

Says McCain doesn’t give “teleprompter speeches designed to appeal to America’s critics abroad”. Well, that’s a relief, I guess.


10:29 PM:

Ignoring the warning beeps from his pacemaker, Fred continues.

Describes Obama as: “most inexperienced, most liberal nominee to ever run for President.”

“We need a President who doesn’t believe protecting an unborn child is above his pay grade!”

Rambles on some more then leaves amid more chants of “USA! USA!”


10:37 PM:

David Gergen says speech “brought convention to life”. Not so fast, David! Next up: Joe Lieberman!


10:39 PM:

Lieberman takes the stage, with a mere 20 minutes to prove he’s the biggest hosepail on the planet. Can he do it? Of course he can.

Minutes into his speech, Lieberman has smothered the newly awakened convention with a bipartisan pillow.


10:43 PM:

“What’s a Democrat like me doing at a Republican convention like this?” I wished he’d contacted me directly. I have a detailed answer to that question.

“Country matters more than party!” He doesn’t say which country.


10:44 PM:

Chants of “USA! USA!” So Lieberman meant the USA, I guess.


10:46 PM:

TV camera picks up another African American in the crowd.


10:48 PM:

Lieberman implores audience: “Trust me!” Yeah, Republicans, go ahead and trust him. Go on, now.


10:49 PM:

“If John McCain is just another partisan Republican, then I’m Michael Moore’s favorite Democrat!” Uh, Joe? Yes, he is, and no, you’re not.


10:51 PM:

Praises Bill Clinton for welfare reform, free trade and a balanced budget. Smirks from crowd.


10:56 PM:

“It was a pleasure traveling around the world with John McCain, even with Lindsay Graham along.”

Wraps up with an exhortation to Dems, Independents and Republicans to vote for McCain. “He’s no ordinary candidate!” Finally, something I can agree with Joe about.

Leaves to possibly the most enthusiastic applause Republicans have given a Jew since Sammy Davis Jr. was still alive.

Tomorrow: Speeches by Romney, Giuliani, Huckabee and Palin, as Day 2 unfolds with musical felony and the Republican Party’s pathetic quadrennial attempt to show off its, uh, diversity.