One important difference between the two conventions: in Boston, the Democrats were unable (or willing) to talk to their base.
Speeches were aimed at pacifying doubtful voters, and drew mainly qualified support from anti-war, anti-Bush Democrat diehards. Many who applauded John Kerry's speech did so not because they necessarily agreed with it, but because they thought it the right speech to give in order to win the election. Compare that tentative, market-tested, second-guessing approach to what we've seen in New York. As one commenter noted in an earlier thread: "At least one side is willing to stand up and shout what they believe in."
Damn straight, although the "one side" in New York includes a certain southern Democrat. Kerry's "warrior liberal" act comes off as even more implausible than George W. Bush's 2000-era "compassionate conservatism", especially when contrasted with the direct and entertaining speech delivered last night by Zell Miller.
Speaking of whom … Hoo, boy! Matt Welch got himself all scared and spooked by ol' Zell, mostly due to the Georgian's "militaristic" tone (attempting to impersonate him last night, Matt worked up an apocalyptic sound somewhere between Linda Blair in The Exorcist and Lyndon B. Johnson). I liked the speech, of course, but I worried about what it might do to my friend Ken Layne, who has Unresolved Issues with us hate-speaking conservatives. Turns out I was right to be concerned:
I grew up in the South, surrounded by sons of bitches like Zell Miller—bitter old nigger-haters who couldn't possibly understand why they weren't right about anything—and this dixiecrat piece of shit is probably the best advertisement for the Bush Administration's Compassionate Conservatism we've ever seen. Thank you, Zell. Now we understand. Sorry about wishing the Bush Administration all the best after 9/11. Sorry I ever entertained the thought that these vicious pigs might find redemption in defending our country with honor.
God only knows what they're saying over at Democratic Underground and other, less balanced sites.
Actually, compared to the themes routinely hauled up by the anti-Bushites—Hail to the Thief, Halliburton, Bush Lied, Bush Knew, BusHitler, etc.—Miller's speech was an exercise in elegant restraint. Maybe Zell should've punched it up a little. Well, James Lileks thought it had just enough righteous fury:
The angriest man at the convention turns out to be a Democrat: who'd have thunk. He's brutal. He's hammering Kerry like a blacksmith; if Kerry was a horseshoe he'd be thinner than aluminum foil.
Democrats, I suspect, would've loved someone to have delivered such a blacksmithing to Bush. Too bad they only talked like that in corridors and the hall instead of on stage. Wimps.