The Washington Post’s evaluation of last night’s speeches is by John Harris. He didn’t enjoy the evening any more than the Times’s reporters did. Here is his lead sentence:
Vice President Cheney reached back decades into John F. Kerry’s life Wednesday night, arguing in taunting language that the Democratic presidential nominee has demonstrated through his public statements and votes that he is unfit to be commander in chief in an age of terrorism.
Given that Kerry has served in the Senate for two decades, it’s not clear why such “reaching back” is inappropriate, but the Post is clearly sympathetic to Kerr’s belief that any criticism of his voting record is out of bounds.
Here is how Harris describes Zell Miller: “His voice booming and his face twisted into a countenance of contempt and anger…” See, if Miller’s face was “twisted,” that means “there was a lot of hate coming from that podium,” just like John Edwards said.
And, according to the Post, the theme of the Republican convention is “fear”:
The theme for the convention’s penultimate night was “Land of Opportunity,” designed to tout the administration’s economic plans and make the case that prosperity is returning. But the theme of fear — of the prospect of terrorism, and of the Kerry’s alleged inability to fight it — remained by far the dominant note from the podium.
This, too, fits the Democrats’ theme that the Republicans are fear-mongers. Of course, we Republicans would say that the theme was strength, not fear. And I like this line by Glenn Reynolds, while watching a Democrat spin the “fear” theme on TV: “It’s the politics of fear. (It must be: he looks afraid.)”
In the Post’s world, the Democrats are lamb-like creatures who have engaged in only the mildest critiques of the Bush administration, and are now stunned by the vicious assault being launched on them:
Democrats, taken aback by the ferocity of the night’s rhetoric, acknowledged that this would work if the public believes the string of indictments against them issued from the podium.
Of course, the public won’t believe the Republicans’ indictments if the Post has anything to say about it. The sentence immediately following the one just quoted says, in what would seem to be a non sequitur:
Giving the United Nations a veto over deployment of U.S. forces is not Kerry’s position now nor has it been any time as an elected official.
That was just a position he took as a private citizen, you see.
The Post sums up the Democratic reaction to Zell’s speech:
The Democratic hope was that the vitriol, especially from Miller, will strike voters as excessive and not credible.
Yes, that’s the Post’s hope, too.
Harris continues on with other convention news, including this hilarious bit on an interview given by Karl Rove:
Campaign operatives struck the anti-Kerry theme even harder away from the podium. The president’s top political strategist, White House senior adviser Karl Rove, endorsed one of the key lines of attack being pursued by an independent group airing ads questioning Kerry’s Vietnam War service and his leadership of the antiwar movement afterward.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Rove said Kerry’s 1971 speech asserting that delinquent leadership resulted in widespread atrocities by U.S. service members in Vietnam was “painting with far too broad a brush to tarnish the records and service of people defending our country and fighting communism and doing what they thought was right.”
Two Kerry surrogates, former Democratic senators and Vietnam War veterans Max Cleland and Bob Kerrey, said Rove’s comments indicated he was acting in league with Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and should resign from the White House.
So anyone who says that John Kerry overstated his case in accusing his fellow soldiers of committing atrocities and war crimes on a daily basis, murdering 200,000 Vietnamese annually and pillaging villages like Genghis (that’s jen-jiss) Khan is “acting in league with Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” and should be dismissed from government service.
Only in the parallel world of the Washington Post could that be reported with a straight face.
UPDATE: Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics watched Zell’s speech from the floor, and has a more balanced assessment.