Zell's Rebel Yell


Georgia Democrat (well, soon-to-be former Democrat)Zell Miller is working John F. Kerry over with a stick and a tremulous Southern accent, like Buford Pusser kicking some hillbilly ass. Kerry's crime? To Miller, voting against seemingly every weapons program that might actually kill bad guys.

All quotes approximate: "Almost 20 years in the Senate tells you more than 20 weeks [on the campaign trail*]." A good shot, as is the jibe that "Kerry is against outsourcing but wants to outsource the defense of America to the UNITED NATIONS" (cue boos). From John Kerry, terrorists "get a yes, no, maybe bowl of mush." George Bush has unabashed love for his daughters and he is "unashamed of his belief that God is not indifferent to the United States" and that Bush is the "same man on Saturday night as he is in Sunday morning." Miller has "knocked on [Bush's] soul and found someone home." "We got some hard-choosin' to do." "Our president has had the courage to stand up and this Democrat (Miller) is proud to stand with him."

A passionate, hectoring speech long on folksy putdowns but short on the rhetorical gestures and motifs that ran through Giuliani's and Schwarzenegger's (maybe it's the New Yawker in me, but the ministerial cadences of Southern pols, white and black, Republican and Democrat, leave me cold). Yet Miller is forcefully framing the question that is clearly one of the central issues in the campaign: In a war, who do you want to be in a foxhole with, Bush or Kerry? It's to the Republicans' credit (and the Democrats' shame) that the guy who actually has been shot at comes out on the losing end of that query.

But shh, Dick Cheney has taken the mic…

Update: * changed from "[in Vietnam]"; as I said, all quotes approximate.