Maybe I shouldn't have been, but I was surprised by the tone of the Republican Convention last night. I was really surprised at how completely negative the whole tone of the evening was. Don't get me wrong. I expected a few good zingers aimed at Obama and the Democrats. Clearly the Dems had gotten their fair share in. But I just wasn't ready for the barrage and vehemence with which the Republicans went on the offensive last night. I hate being so naive.
First of all, the Republicans drew the same battle lines that they've been drawing since I've been paying attention. They say that the Democrats are for higher taxes, bigger government, more control over your life, and collaboration with our enemies. Coming slightly less than 24 hours after Joe Lieberman's call for party unity, we can see that this is not going to be a high-minded campaign of civic-mindedness.
I loved how the chants from the crowd last night ranged from the patriotic ("USA") to the negative ("Zero") to the slightly comical ("Drill, Baby, Drill"). Really? Drill, baby, drill? Ugh. The state of political discourse in this country lags yet again.
Rudy Giuliani gave the kind of speech last night that reminds New York residents exactly why we're so glad that Michael Bloomberg is mayor now. I mean, really. Rudy Giuliani is a nasty man. I was literally watching in disbelief. His whole speech consisted of sarcastic mockery of Barack Obama. No real articulation of ideas. Nothing substantive to offer. Just nasty sarcasm being cheered on by the crowds in the convention hall. I can only hope that other people watching had the same reaction I did. Things in politics are nasty enough as they are without having our keynote speakers stoop to that level.
Sarah Palin's speech was really good, as I knew it was going to be. I wish I'd written that yesterday because now I sound like my brother when he went around trying to prove he was a psychic by saying over and over again, "I knew you were going to do that." But this is for real. I did know that Palin was going to give a good speech, especially in comparison to the hype of possible disaster she faced if her speech was bad. Her speech was kind of a cross between Michelle Obama's and John Kerry's given during the Dem convention last week. She started off painting a picture of how down home and normal she and her family are and then segued into a pretty forceful attack against the other guys. I thought she did both pretty well. She didn't do a whole lot to bolster her claims to experience in foreign policy, but I don't think that's really necessary. Like Obama, she's staking her claim to office on her judgement and on the change she can represent and create. Whether it's the change we want or need is going to be decided by the voters. But while we wait for that to happen, I thought she did a good job making her case.