Thursday, July 29, 2004
After my 'gavel-to-gavel' coverage on Tuesday night (see previous entry), I decided to pretty much skip night three of the DNC; after all, the networks devoted an entire hour to last night's festivities (way to go guys!), so I'm sure everyone got a complete picture of the Democratic party and what it stands for. Harrumph.
As, ahem, extensive as the network coverage was, it still managed to miss last night's apparent highlight: the Sharpton sermon, er, speech. Yep, before Kerry's running mate, John Edwards, was seen speaking to the nation about hope and flinging his children all over the stage for the cameras, the rotund reverend had his moment under the lights. As most of you have heard by now, the Kerry campaign urged all speakers and delegates prior to the convention to tone down the Bush-bashing rhetoric and, for the most part, participants have toed the line and done just that. But not Rev. Al, no sir.
Almost immediately, Sharpton strayed from the script that had been vetted by the Kerry camp, responding to President Bush's speech to the Urban League in Detroit last week. Sharpton told the Daily News that he veered off the desired higher ground "because [Bush] directly challenged us. It would have been a betrayal not to answer his questions." In Bush's appearance at the Urban League last week, a transparent attempt to salvage his reputation amongst the African American community after shunning the NAACP the week before, the President questioned whether "the traditional solutions of the Democratic party truly served the African American community?" Sharpton responded last night with this:
"Mr. President ... we didn't come this far playing political games. It was those that earned our votes that got our votes. We got the Civil Rights Act under a Democrat. We got the Voting Rights Act under a Democrat. We got the right to organize under Democrats. Mr. President, the reason we are fighting so hard, the reason we took Florida so seriously, is our right to vote wasn't gained because of our age. Our vote was soaked in the blood of martyrs, soaked in the blood of [civil rights activists] Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner, soaked in the blood of four little girls in Birmingham. This vote is sacred to us. This vote can't be bargained away. This vote can't be given away. In all due respect, Mr. President, read my lips: Our vote is not for sale."
You really had to see it to experience it fully, it was pretty powerful. Of course, the Republicans will use Sharpton's rousing, boisterous, sermon-like performance to paint the Democratic party as full of a bunch of loonies. As they so often do, the Republicans will mistake genuine passion for insanity. But so be it, Sharpton's speech - no matter what you think of the man - was entertaining, inspiring and well-received and I, for one, I'm glad he strayed from the script. I may even watch his TV show now.
Of course, a Days entry wouldn't be a Days entry without some snide humor, so I'll post a little bit more from Bush's Urban League appearance:
"Do you remember a guy named Charlie Gaines? Somebody gave me a quote he said, which I think kind of describes the environment we're in today. I think he's a friend of Jesse's. He said, 'Blacks are gagging on the donkey but not yet ready to swallow the elephant.'”
Wonkette already beat me to this of course, but does the sexual subtext of that metaphor make anyone else a little uncomfortable? Sharpton even took it one step further in his speech last night when he said, "we decided we'd ride this donkey as far as it would take us." Since when did bestiality become a political issue?
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
I'm gonna try a little real-time commentary here...
Night two, a full slate of speakers to take in. All-Star Opening Night is over, on to the meat of the party. Ted Kennedy is up first. Tell me this, when was the last time a Democratic Convention didn't feature at least one Kennedy, in some capacity? Someone else do the research and let me know. My god, there's Maria Shriver in the seats - even she's a Kennedy! And a Republican! What the hell??
Kennedy has been a staunch critic of Bush since the day he took office. He was one of the not enough senators who openly opposed and voted against the Iraqi misadventure (and no, it wasn't 'before he voted for it' - yes, I'm aware.) Boy Kennedy sure does ramble doesn't he? Maybe he's a little drunk. 8:30 pm? Yep, he's probably drunk.
He opens like he's some old-timey Boston tour guide, painfully taking us along some twisted tour of independence - the North Church, the Capitol Dome and the Golden Steps. What is he talking about? When is he going to get to the good stuff? Hey look, there's Bono!
I turn over to FOX to see what camera angle they're using. I find out they haven't yet picked up the Kennedy speech so Bill O'Reilly can finish selling Ben Affleck (don't worry, I'll get to this soon - god) on the Iraq War. And then, as the interview wraps up with Bill sucking up to the Gigli star's ass, O'Reilly looks into the camera and says, "we'll be right back and maybe listen to what Ed Kennedy has to say... if he ever shows up." Kennedy could clearly be heard behind him, down on the floor, 15 minutes into his goddam speech. Bill O'Reilly is a jackass.
After another half-hour on the Freedom Trail with Kennedy, he finally wraps up to a semi-thunderous applause. Long, somewhat rambling, strong at times but lacking in 'red meat' for the base. But I believe Dean may be up next, blood dripping from the mouth no doubt.
Watch THIS Now!
And hitting second...
Dean thunders on stage! People cheer, people chant! Exciting! People are still cheering. Man, he really soaks in that applause doesn't he? More cheering. Sigh. Ok, here he goes. He's gonna say something. Yep, he just confirmed it: He's Howard Dean, and he's voting for John Kerry. Who's next?
Dean people are kind of crazy. They scared me during the primaries. It's kind of like a cult thing. He's kind of a weird dude, ya know? And these people that follow him... I don't know. But hey, unity is the theme of the week. Positivity. But it's weird, that's all I'm saying.
Dean's proving he knows all 50 states once again. I'm so glad he didn't come back and win the primaries. We'd have to sit through the every-state-in-the-nation bit every. single. night.
Dean finishes up kind of suddenly and kind of awkwardly, as if someone underneath the podium kicked him in the nuts and said 'get the hell off the stage!' Not enough red meat.
We'll be right back.
I'd been asking myself for weeks, "who the hell is Barack Obama? and why is everyone talking about him?" Now I get it. Wow. That was amazing.
Red meat. Better than Clinton. We have a winner.
Of course, the country didn't get to see one of the best political speeches in recent memory because they were too busy airing reruns of CSI. Shame on you big media.
Uh, good luck following that Ron.
What in the world is going on now, a Reagan is on the stage! Ohhhhhhhh, it's the liberal Reagan. Ok, makes sense. Sounds like he's going talk about science. Embryonic what? Cell regeneration? Injected into my brain? Oh my god, what's going on? Make it stop! Where's the Boston tour guide? I want the Boston tour guide!
Hey look, there's Jason Bateman!
What the heck is Jason Bateman doing there?
Why does Ron Reagan sound like he's hosting an infomercial? Oh no, there's more. 'She can handle her own catheter?' Ok, I think it's time for me to see what FOX News has to say. Weird, it looks like they're airing a Reagan Sr. speech from 1984.
No red meat, just a bunch of scientific gobblety-gook.
Here Kitty, Kitty.
And the main event...
Chris Heinz takes the podium to provide biography and to lovingly introduce his mother, Teresa Heinz-Kerry, the ketchup queen. She speaks five languages ya know?
She's very. measured. when. she. speaks. She's apparently voting for John Kerry next fall. Nice. I'm getting that she's a smart, well-traveled woman. Yep, definitely smart. She's seen a lot. She gives good biography.
Come on, say it... say it. Come on Teresa, just once... say it. Say it! Shove it!! Damn.
Ok, we're into the Spirit of America part of the speech now. Now she's doing the state-naming thing too! Obama, as fantastic as his speech was, also provided us with some state shout-outs! It happened in every speech, it's a theme! Goddam you Dean, do you see what you've started! I dont' think Reagan was able to slip any shout-outs in between the embryonic cells and the punctured braincaps however.
She's quoting Lincoln now. Nice. Strong finish. A great build-up to introduce her husband. She's a good speaker, very smooth. Very convincing. I feel confident. I think she may be biased though. Good speech Teresa, you shove it girl!
Thank you all, good night.
No, no, not THAT feeling! Get your mind out of the gutter... sheesh. No, the feeling I'm talking about is the one I got while watching Bill Clinton steal the show once again last night. Whether you believe in his policies or not, whether you think he's a big fat liar or not, you have to give the guy credit for being a smooth speaker. His speech last night to the DNC forced me to remember what it was like to have a well-spoken, articulate and sensible person leading the country. There is such a stark difference between our 42nd president and our 43rd, namely literacy. Here's the full text of Clinton's speech.
The Kerry campaign asked speakers at the convention not to go negative, not to get consumed by Bush Bashing. Jimmy Carter apparently didn't get the memo. Surprisingly, Carter came out swinging and leveled the sharpest criticism of the night against the Bush regime, and in particular, its foreign policy. Not bad for a failed peanut farmer.
I was unable to catch Gore's speech unfortunately, but I still feel like I participated because while the former veep was speaking, I was watching the movie Love Story at HBO's outdoor summer film series at Bryant Park. If you'll remember, Love Story is the 70's Cambridge-set sapfest starring Ali McGraw and Ryan O'Neal (that 'goddam preppie') incorrectly rumored to be modeled on Al and Tipper. The movie brought the phrase, "Love means never having to say your sorry" into the national lexicon, which I believe was Clinton's mantra during the later years of his presidency.
For a more thorough and informative recap of last night's festivities, without a single mention of Love Story, see this piece from The Nation's David Corn.
AND THAT OLD REPUBLICAN ATTACK MACHINE
The GOP has set up a "War Room" a few blocks from the Fleet Center to respond to information and allegations communicated by Democrats inside the hall. With a slick operation such as this, you'd think the Republicans would spend their energy dissecting policy statements from Democratic speakers and refuting any charges leveled against their man. But instead, the best the 'War Room' could could come up with was to splash silly pictures of their opponent dressed up in some sort of spacesuit while on the campaign trail yesterday. Immediately, the Republicans began comparing the shots to the infamous and laughable photos of Michael Dukakis in tank during the '88 campaign against the elder Bush. Frankly, we think Kerry looks much more like Mike Teevee, the TV-obsessed kid from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, than Dukakis - check out the similarities!
But seriously, if you're not going to vote for someone simply because he looks kinda goofy, then don't vote at all. And don't forget, it was the Republicans who played dress-up first by putting Bush in that flight suit to proclaim 'Mission Accomplished' about, oh, nearly 800 American deaths ago. Talk about embarrassing!
Republicans other line of attack yesterday? That Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz-Kerry, is some sort of angry, foreign bitch for telling a reporter to "Shove It." You know them Republicans, they just hate it when you girls get all uppity. Don't you know you're just supposed to stand there smiling and not say much, Teresa? What are you, from another country or something? She gets her chance to tell the whole country to "Shove It" tonight, or maybe she'll just tell Dick Cheney to go fuck himself.
Also, the New York Post (hahahaha) managed to further the unbelievable "Kerry and Edwards are homos!" attack line by splashing the following headline across its first page of Convention coverage this morning: "Dems Love-in: Shhhhh! Keep it in the Closet" accompanied by a photo of Kerry and Edwards beaming at one another. The story was about how DNC organizers have urged speakers to stay mum about the marriage debate, but the intended implication is clear. Is this what the GOP wants to turn this election into, a series of irrelevant personal jabs? Yes, because they would get themselves into all kinds of trouble if they were forced into talking about the actual issues.
Monday, July 26, 2004
Something's happening in Boston this week. You've no doubt heard about it. Some sort of photo -op or press conference or something. Yes, the Democrats are throwing themselves a little send-off party for John & John, and since this only happens every four years, we at Days decided we may as well spend a little time on it. Yes, your newscasts will be filled this week with images of balloons, balloons, confetti and more balloons; we're thinking Convention organizers are probably planning to use a red, white and blue color scheme for the festivities, but that's just a guess.
Now, we don't want to kill the suspense and give away the ending of this 4-day Democratic extravaganza, but we believe you'll see a man named John Kerry nominated to take on George W. Bush in the November presidential elections; you may even see him speak on Thursday night.
Ok, ok, we all know what's happening in Boston this week - we've known for months, there is absolutely no element of surprise. The days of back-room dealings, convention uncertainties and fistfights are long gone, which has prompted many pundits to question whether the conventions are even necessary anymore. As much as we've heard about the candidates, the speakers and the issues to be addressed this week in Boston, we've probably heard more about the unprecedented security operation underway, the fast-becoming infamous protest pens, or the headache residents of the city are having to endure just to get to their jobs.
Nope, don't expect to see or hear much about policy and platforms this week. The conventions have become 4-day infomercials for the candidates and their parties. The event is a coronation, a celebration of the man as opposed to an examination of his policies. The conventions are a political version of This Is Your Life, which means we won't hear many specifics this week about how Kerry intends to grow jobs, reduce the deficit or rebuild alliances, but we will hear plenty about Kerry and Edward's hair, their wives, their kids and the size of their packages.
So what do the conventions matter? Are they relevant anymore? Do we need them? My answer is yes. Sure, the conventions don't offer the same amount of substance and depth that they used to, but they are still important. They mark a turning point in the campaign or, more appropriately, a starting point. The conventions are when normal people, who aren't unhealthily obsessed with politics, begin to pay attention. If it weren't for the mid-summer conventions, we'd be bored out of our socks by an endless stream of stump speeches in swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania. I'll take balloons, confetti, funny hats and good hair over that any day.
Of course, the Democrats have once again fallen victim to poor planning which probably means even the people who normally would tune in at this time will be preoccupied. Someone over at DNC headquarters really should've realized they scheduled their little convention against Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. Man-eating sharks will win out over balloons and confetti any day. It's the Sharks, stupid!
NIGHT ONE: A COUPLE OF THE CLINTONS, GORE AND PATTI LABELLE
The Democrats kick things off tonight by reaching back into previous administrations to dredge up all the peanut farmers, Internet inventors and dress stainers it can come up with. After a litany of minor speakers who you won't see anywhere but on CSPAN (I mean really, do we need to see Iowa's state secretary of agriculture?), the big boys hit the stage. The Reverend Al will be first up tonight (uh, that's Gore, not Sharpton - he's up Wednesday) to no doubt throw a heap of red meat to the delegates right off the bat. Gore's recent fire-and-brimstone speeches have bordered on the edge of, um, crazy. At least that's what the GOP would have you believe, but if you actually pay attention to what Gore says instead of how he says it, you'll realize why the right-wing media would simply prefer to label him a loon. Tonight, Al will probably tone it down at the behest of the party.
But if Gore does revert to his fiery antics, the DNC has properly prepared to bring the house right back down by scheduling former president Jimmy Carter to speak after him. Apparently, the DNC wanted to give its delegates some time in between interesting speeches to go grab something to drink and maybe take a nap. After Carter, some junior senator from New York introduces former president Bill Clinton, the party's rock star. Naturally, this is the prime-time speech that everyone will be talking about tomorrow (Jimmy Carter? Who's he? Some poet?), but Clinton's appearance coming on the opening night of the convention is no accident - hell, nothing's an accident at this scripted event. But organizers have taken special care I think to make sure the excitement generated by Bubba doesn't overshadow that of the actual candidate, which is why Clinton and Kerry's speeches are three nights apart. That's also the reason Patti Labelle is scheduled to appear tonight, too much excitement!
In the coming days, we'll attempt to break down some of the other speakers scheduled, we may even try to explain who Barack Obama is. But in case we're too liquored up to get to that, you can get a full schedule of speakers here. Or, for those of us with limited attention spans, check out a condensed and animated version here.
A few other better sources than I for ongoing convention/election coverage:
The Official Party Line (yawn)
CNN's Election Guide
The Nation's David Corn
An unbiased collection of campaign information from Yahoo (my favorite place to start)
GUARANTEED: YOU'LL BE SICK OF HEARING ABOUT BLOGS BY THURSDAY
If you're only paying attention to the major television networks - ABC, CBS and NBC - you won't see much of anything from the convention. The big media triumvirate will spend no more than six total hours split amongst them covering the convention. Hell, we've spent more time than that here at Days trying to come up with clever headings for our lame-ass entries. For more complete coverage, junkies will have to turn to the likes of CSPAN, CNN or god forbid, FOX News, (please, if you're going to use FOX News as your primary source of campaign information, see this documentary first). Or, if you really want to know what's happening at the conventions, just check into the blogosphere.
Yep, the DNC has been duped by the blogging community into thinking that bloggers are actual, real-life media people (ha!) and has issued press credentials to 35 morons such as myself to cover the convention. NYU's Adam Penenberg recently explored this new development in campaign media coverage in a very entertaining piece from Wired. In it, he asks our favorite blogger, Wonkette, if she thinks the bloggers will be breaking any news at the convention. Her response:
We're not sure if this whole blogging-the-convention-thing is a good idea, but we're totally excited to see how many times Wonkette can link ass-fucking to the Democratic convention... actually, you can probably ask any GOP operative what they think of the delegates inside the Fleet Center and get at least one reference to assfuckers, but that's besides the point. By the way, where the hell is my press pass DNC?? I blog dammit!
"Breaking news?," Wonkette wrote in a recent e-mail to me. "ldkjflasjflkjsdlkfjlkdsjflksklfdfjkl Sorry, lost control of my hands as I was laughing too hard. Bloggers don't really report to begin with: They filter, they analyze, they collect. Reporting is something you have to leave your laptop to do.... It'll be a new experience for most of them (and me). Best-case scenario is that we make things more interesting by fucking it up somehow." She hopes that bloggers' presence will add spice to the convention, "but unless one of them gets molested by Rob Lowe, I don't know if they will."
YES, THIS IS IMPORTANT
We know, politics is boring to most people - a lot of them are even Days readers. But even if you can't commit to the whopping six hours of coverage from the TV networks, what's most important is that we participate in November. We don't care if you're Republican or Democrat, just take a little time to do some research (multiple sources encouraged!) and vote in November. Because as Sean Combs says, it's Vote or Die. Damn Diddy, seems a bit extreme doesn't it? We much prefer the sentimet expressed in this one. Yeah, Vote F*cker!
Register to Vote Here!
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
We have yet to weigh in publicly about Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, but we would be remiss not to comment on Ms. Linda Ronstadt's experience in Vegas over the weekend. Linda Ronstadt, who hasn't been heard from since that sappy-ass duet she did with Aaron Neville a decade ago, has received all kinds of attention after her excommunication from the Aladdin Hotel & Casino on Saturday night. While introducing her cover of the Eagles Desperado, Ronstadt praised Michael Moore for his patriotism and suggested folks in the audience see the film. According to Aladdin president Bill Timmins, "all bedlam broke loose" after Ronstadt's remarks, marking the first time the term "bedlam" was linked with a Ronstadt show since a 1968 performance with the Stone Poneys.
Michael Moore of course latched onto the incident immediately, firing off an angry letter to Timmins in which he called the casino manager stupid and un-American. He's most likely also converting the events of last weekend into a documentary linking Timmins, the Aladdin casino and George W. Bush to Pol Pot and Osama bin Laden. All the hullabaloo aside, my question is, why the hell did it have to be Ronstadt that got booted from Vegas? We like Linda Ronstadt. Why can't Celine freakin' Dion bash Bush so we aren't forced to hear her warble on night after night??
Ronstadt has since said she has no regrets about her remarks and will continue to praise Moore at upcoming shows in an effort to get people's "heads up out of their mashed potatoes" in this election year. Oh Linda, we love it when you do the mashed potatoe. Or is it potato? Damn, where's Dan Quayle when you need him?!
Tuesday, July 06, 2004
Welcome to the party John! After this morning's selection by John Kerry of Southern senator John Edwards as his running mate, expect to hear this charge often from the GOP camp. We will certainly have more to say about the selection in the Days, weeks and months ahead, but we'd just like to crow a little about our spot-on prediction from a few weeks ago, (too bad we weren't this prescient in Vegas last weekend!). This morning's news also demonstrated yet again that the Right-leaning, Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post doesn't know what the fuck it is reporting about. Nice scoop boys!
UPDATE: Apparently, I can make a 2200% profit on the 25-cents I dropped this morning for the aforementioned erroneous NY Post. Whoo hoo! Thanks Rupert!