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September 1, 2004
Shales: I Like Redneck Parties?

Having read Tom Shales' review of the Republican convention thus far, I'm not sure whether to be encouraged or irritated. Shales obviously thinks that the GOP has managed to out-stage the Democrats in putting on "rubber-stamp" conventions, as if we have had any other kind in the last five decades. Shales even notes success in impressing the media. However, he takes several opportunities to sneer down his cheaters at Republicans as a bunch of hicks:

People don't commonly associate adjectives like "cool" and "hip" with the Republican Party, but the first broadcast television coverage of this year's convention, from Madison Square Garden in New York last night, revealed the GOP to be more media-hip and glitzy than the Democrats were earlier this summer. ...

The message of the Tuesday Night Follies was that Democrats are wimps and Republicans are symbolically still down in Texas fending off the invading army that's trying to take over the Alamo. Remember it, hell! They're still fighting. ...

His performance could be dismissed as absurdly retro and old-hat by intellectuals and the politically correct but in a time ruled largely by fear, it came off as brave, rough and tough, as if John Wayne had come back to life to take one more whack at "bad guys" in an outdated western. Arnold even obliged the crowd by using the term "girlie man" when referring to anyone who is an economic pessimist, sending the audience into bombastic cathartic cheers. ... [Schwarzenegger] even led a rhetorical chorus session keyed to the theme of how to tell you're a Republican that was very similar in concept to hillbilly comic Jeff Foxworthy's routine "You know you're a redneck when ...."

Shales noted that even Dan Rather was impressed by Arnold, who reported that he had "slapped Kerry around like a hockey puck." Shales himself had a great line about Fox's coverage (which I've missed entirely while here in NYC):

At the Fox network, the Republican convention is being covered like a happy birthday party for God, with the channel's right-leaning commentators and anchors hanging on for the joyride of their lives, all but turning cartwheels.

I don't know if Shales is accurate, but it's an entertaining moment in a contradictory review. If the Republicans are such hicks, then why is their convention -- in the very heart of metropolitan America, Manhattan -- so wildly successful? Could it be that the Democrats miscalculated when assuming that such "hicks" could connect with plain folk around the country, and even a chunk of their metropolitan friends as well?

Shales seems to think that "in a time ruled by fear" that fear is all the Repulicans are selling at Madison Square Garden. However, every single speaker has pressed the optimism that America can conquer the fear of terrorism by positive action. If anything, the speakers at the RNC have been selling hope, while Democrats -- wrapped up in their irrational Bush-hatred -- have been selling nothing but the fear of what another term for W would mean. Nuclear war! American isolation! Environmental destruction! Women in burkhas on the streets of New York!

Shales hasn't paid attention. Hope touches the soul, regardless of political affiliation, while hatred and fear only motivates the small-minded. The Republicans have done a masterful job of focusing on the positive motivation that lies behind the tough tasks ahead. That apppeals to a much broader swath of Americans than Shales or the Democrats credit. If you have to be a redneck to have hope, let's hope that Americans drawl their way to the ballot box on November 2.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 1, 2004 8:01 AM

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Tracked on September 1, 2004 10:04 AM

» On being an American from The Glittering Eye
Captain Ed does a little fisking of Tom Shales's recent column in the Washington Post: Having read Tom Shales' review of the Republican convention thus far, I'm not sure whether to be encouraged or irritated. Shales obviously thinks that the... [Read More]

Tracked on September 1, 2004 11:16 AM

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