August 31, 2004

8/31 Keynote Speaker: Laura Bush

10:25 An introduction for the First Lady by her twin daughters has started off very well, although they're clearly nervous. They've poked fun at themselves, their grandmother, their father, Dick Cheney, Sex And The City, Karl Rove, Condi Rice, and Karen Hughes. They're having fun doing a tag-team comedy routine ...

10:30 "We had a hamster, too. Let's just say it didn't make it."

10:32 A surprise -- George Bush is live on satellite to complete the introduction. I wonder has this happened before, where a candidate appeared before the nomination? At least during the modern, scripted era of conventions?

10:35 Laura is on now, thanking the Bush family. The former President and First Lady, George and Barbara, held up We Love Laura signs. ...

10:37 "Why do you think we should re-elect your husband as president?" An interesting way to frame her speech. It makes sense, as a First Lady usually doesn't get too involved in the hard politics. And, in fact, she's starting off with education, the cause she's adopted for her time in the White House.

10:39 Women-owned business as a model for the ownership society -- another pitch-perfect topic. Now she's moved on to health care, although that gets less enthusiastic. Stem-cell research that respects the "dignity of human life" gets better response.

10:40 Economics gets a mention, only briefly, and in terms of home ownership. She transitioned to national security -- not your typical First Lady topic. Laura focuses on the extraordinary contribution of a Colorado family that has three sons enlisted in the service, all deployed overseas ...

10:43 Laura Bush speaks in the quiet, dignified manner that befits a First Lady, but I'm wondering whether it wouldn't have been better to lead off with her and finish with Arnold. The crowd is responding to Laura, but there's little doubt that the intensity has dropped off.

10:46 Millions more people live in freedom now than four years ago, and especially the women of Afghanistan. This speech obviously targets the women's vote, especially among the undecided. It's effective here in the chamber ... we'll see ...

10:52 She gets more effective when she talks about her husband, with much more passion. She is technically excellent at speaking when covering other subjects, but she inspires people when talking about George.

10:54 "Because of strong leadership, we don't hide under our desks any more," referencing the Cold War and the determination that led the way to victory. A great, if subtle, reference to Ronald Reagan. ...

10:56 A good speech, perhaps even an excellent speech, and certainly a dignified and classy endorsement of her husband.

Addendum: You may be missing this at home, but the Harlem Boy's Choir is performing one of my favorite Civil War songs, Battle Hymn Of The Republic. They are doing a magnificent job, truly a wonderful end to the evening.

Further notes: Another speaker has come out -- a survivor of the Holocaust is speaking about her experiences in the camps and her liberation. She is speaking now about Bush's commitment to battling terrorism, both here and in Israel. I don't have her name, but she shows the most passion I've heard so far tonight.


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