Friday, August 20, 2004

...and a dollar short

On Wednesday my wife and I were at the Xcel Energy Center (home of the Minnesota Wild) with fellow Frater Saint Paul, Ed from Captain's Quarters, and Mitch Berg from Shot in the Dark. We were attending a rally for President Bush. Accounts of the event have already been provided by Ed, Mitch, and Derek from Freedom Dogs. I don't have a heck of a lot to add to their recollections, so instead I've elected to provide my views on what went down in the form of grades.

Let's begin with the MC, talk radio hostess Laura Ingraham. From what Laura has said on her show, I gather that she didn't get much notice for this appearance. And it definitely showed. She seemed ill-prepared, unfocused, and at times downright confused. It didn't help that the sound system made her voice sound extra screechy. She is also not a naturally funny person. Her attempts at humor fell flat and she was generally uninspiring. Hewitt, Prager, and especially Medved could have done a much better job. I also found it odd that was she was never formally introduced. It was just assumed that we would all know how she was, and, judging by the reactions of people around me in the crowd, that was a faulty assumption. Grade: C

The opening invocation was short but sweet and didn't offend those of the non-Christian persuasion unlike the long-winded prayer dirge that opened the second day of the MN GOP State Convention. Grade B+

St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly merits a spilt score. On his political gamble to back Bush I give him an A-. On his performance on Wednesday I give him a C+. Charisma thy name is not Randy Kelly.

Memo to the doofus from the College Republicans: You are trying too hard son. Way too hard. Take off the "power" tie, unbutton your shirt, and stop with the histrionics. Grade: C-

In fact he should spend some time watching Colonel Joe Repya. The man is the real deal. He spoke from the heart and he spoke with passion. Plus great visual aids with Bush and Kerry bobble heads. Grade: A-

You're the Republican Party. You're having an event for the President. In St. Paul, a city where you desperately need to broaden your appeal. So when the time comes for someone from the local Bush/Cheney campaign team speak you choose a business owner from the wealthy suburb of Edina? Huh? Despite the speaker's assurance that the Edina vote was safely in the Bush column (whew-I was worried about that one) this was a terrible call. Why not put a blue collar guy from St. Paul up there? Grade: D+

Congressman John Kline did a fine job in the time he had. I think by the time he spoke the schedule was off and he had to rush a bit. Still overall he performed well. Grade: B+

Congressman Mark Kennedy brought some emotion to the event with the touching story of an Iraqi woman who visited him in Washington DC to learn about democracy. Grade: B+

Congressman Gil Gutknecht on the other hand was pathetic. And I'm ain't just talking about that silly excuse for a hair piece either. In a time when Republicans are trying to focus the electorate on the big issues of the day (the war and the economy) Gil chose to discuss four of the most trivial issues imaginable. And after we had just been told that Bush was a strong leader because he didn't base his decisions on opinion polls, Gil cited survey after survey showing that Americans supported the meaningless issues he was pushing. Gil from the Simpson's could have given a better speech. Grade: D--

Norm Coleman got the crowd out of their seats (those who had seats that is) with his list of ten reasons to vote for Bush. It wasn't a perfect performance, but even when Norm is not 100% he's still better than most. Grade: A-

And finally the big guy. W. I had been expecting a boilerplate twenty minute stump speech and so was pleasantly surprised when Bush's talk lasted nearly forty-five minutes. For the most part, I was buying what he was selling. Bush laid out the best post-invasion justification for going to war with Iraq that I've yet heard from him. I looked over at Captain Ed a couple of times during it, and we nodded in agreement that this is what voters need to hear over and over, from now until November. Bush also delivered a strong message on ownership and responsibility for all Americans. These are areas that I believe are critical in appealing to those Americans who consider themselves liberal, but tend to lead conservative lives. And he made me very happy by mentioning Social Security reform and how important that issue is for the younger, post-Boomer generations. There was some overlap and returning to previously discussed issues during the speech, and, with a bit of editing, he could probably have trimmed five minutes out without losing any context. But overall I was quite impressed with the man and his message. Grade: B+

The big question is, was it worth it? Worth the half-day of vacation that I took from work? Worth the wait outside to get in? Worth standing for close to five hours with no relief for my feets?

Undoubtedly yes.

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