Tonight was attack John Kerry night. The two men sent to do the job were Zell Miller and Vice President Cheney. Miller’s attack was probably the most hard-hitting I’ve heard at a convention — certainly the most hard-hitting since Hubert Humphrey laid into Barry Goldwater in 1964. The Vice President’s attack was typical low-key Cheney.
There’s a logic to this approach. The unrestrained attack — the one with the blunt instrument — comes from someone who isn’t running and is a member of Kerry’s party to boot. Cheney’s attack then seems alll the more restrained and surgical by comparison. In the end Kerry gets hit hard twice and the Vice President looks good.
Nonetheless, from a strategic standpoint, I think it might have been more effective to find a happy medium between Miller’s fire and brimstone attack and Cheney’s monotonous speech (Rudy Giuliani comes to mind). Don’t misunderstand. I loved Miller’s speech, and why not? It hammered a guy I don’t like and reminded me of the old days. That’s all it takes to satisfy me. And if Miller didn’t energize the base, Bush should concede tomorrow. But will this speech convince the undecided to vote for Bush? Was it too strident for amodern audience? I don’t know, but I’m a little worried.
Cheney’s speech, I fear, was simply too boring until the end. He seemed to be going through the motions during much of it. Some may say that this is just Cheney’s style, but I remember him being more effective — more into it — in his 2000 acceptance speech. Cheney did warm up towards the end when he zeroed in on John Kerry. In fact, he got in a few zingers. I just hope that America was still tuned in by then,
HINDROCKET adds: The text of Miller’s speech is here. I took the night off and didn’t watch it. Reading Miller’s speech, it’s hard for me to see how it could have been better.
UPDATE: Reader Jim Rhoads tells me that Zell “got a great focus group response on CNBC tonight from ‘undecided voters’.” Mr. Rhoads also notes that the speech was “right on” for “the war veteran demographic.” That’s a great point. The Kerry campaign clearly hopes to reverse its slide with this key group. That task became tougher last night.
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