July 28, 2004
From what I’ve seen and read about the first day of the convention, the Democratic talk about toning down the rhetoric was a smoke screen, pure and simple. Their strategy is to say they will be reasonable and moderate, and then to stand up and tell it like it is. When the predictable screams come in from the right, they can say they were being reasonable and moderate, so what’s the problem, and besides it’s all true.I think this is pretty much right. On one level it’s analagous to the way George W. Bush gets to change positions and policies six times in an afternoon and yet be portrayed as “resolute.” He gets away with it because he never misses a chance to tell everyone how resolute he is. (As Fafblog summarized a recent presidential press conference, Bush’s resolve “is resolute and firm. It is so firm! You have no idea how firm our resolve is. It’s pretty firm I’ll tell you that.”)
But on another level it’s just a way to give supporters more flexible rhetorical tools. Here’s today’s Washington Post, showing how this strategy plays out:
Before Kerry’s arrival in Boston, former senator Max Cleland of Georgia roused a sleepy Virginia delegation with a fiery breakfast speech in which he charged that there is a “total disconnect” between Bush and the troops he sent into Iraq […]“Oh, I’m supposed to be nice.” Much deadlier, really, than the same old insults. And nobody reading it is in any doubt who Ms. Reigel is referring to. [02:24 PM]
The veteran and longtime Kerry friend, who lost his legs and an arm in Vietnam, nearly brought several of the delegates to tears.
“I love Max Cleland,” said Wava Reigel, a delegate from Virginia Beach. “He can identify with people who go to war and have injuries. And you know who can’t. Oh, I’m supposed to be nice.”