Thursday, September 02, 2004

Pre-Speech Wager

I have a little theory about the tone that George Bush will take in his speech later tonight, and it is based in the study of contrasts. The first part of my theory is rooted in the overall approach taken by the Democrats at their convention. With the exception of Al Sharpton (who was obviously off message, and over his allotted time), the Democratic speakers refrained from attacking President Bush with any degree of severity. Sure there were jabs, but nothing too spectacular. That is, until Kerry took the podium. He provided the most aggressive attacks. Here are some highlights, though not an exhaustive list, of Kerry's salvos:

Saying there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq doesn't make it so. Saying we can fight a war on the cheap doesn't make it so. And proclaiming mission accomplished certainly doesn't make it so.

I want an America that relies on its own ingenuity and innovation - not the Saudi royal family.

As President, I will ask hard questions and demand hard evidence. I will immediately reform the intelligence system - so policy is guided by facts, and facts are never distorted by politics.
This was all intentional. The Democrats deliberately showed restraint and exaggerated civility, while Kerry, when his turn came, roared. This was designed to enhance Kerry's image and respond to perceived weaknesses, especially when compared to the litany of Democrats that preceded him. By being the standout example of forcefulness, he appeared strong, decisive, passionate and resolute. He was the one Democrat with a fighting spirit. These are all qualities he sought to highlight in order to counter the media buzz.

Now turn to the Republican convention. The first three days have been the near diametric opposite of the same period for the Democratic convention. As I noted
below, there has been a steady stream of bold attacks, that often play fast and loose with the facts, and occasionally drift into some fairly unsavory waters. One speech outdoes its predecessor in a parade of horribles. On top of that, very few of them actually discuss issues with any degree of specificity. Character has replaced policy as the focus. So how does this set the stage for Bush's speech tonight?

If my theory is correct, and really its just a prediction, Bush will also seek to highlight certain traits by contrasting his speech with the body of Republican speeches thus far. It is on this premise that I base my claim that Bush will take the high road tonight in terms of tone and critique, or at least abstain from the spirited attacks of Cheney, Miller, Giuliani, et al. He will criticize, but in a more subtle fashion. By doing so, in light of the other speeches, Bush looks like the mature statesman, presidential, the compassionate conservative, the uniter not divider, and above all the optimist. All of these are traits that Bush will seek to emphasize in order to increase his appeal amongst moderates and independents in the swing states.

On top of that, I look to Bush to lay out specific policies and address specific issues. This departure from the stream of character attacks will make Bush look like the braintrust behind the policies emanating from his administration, something more like a technocrat than his image would suggest. He will look like the man at the helm, and the ultimate arbiter of the course navigated.

I could be wrong. Bush might launch into a tirade reminiscent of Miller and Cheney, but I would bet against it, and I'm a betting man. Must be the Vegas hangover.

[Update: It appears that the "high road" will be taken by Bush in tonight's speech, and that Bush aids are already prepping the media for this approach. Now they've gone and made me look like I was trying to pull one over on you all.]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?