9/2: The Opening Acts — Masters Of Adjustment

As I stated earlier, I was prevented from live blogging by the sudden lack of an unsecured wireless network in the Garden. Instead, I relied on a digital voice recorder and my fresh memories of the speeches that the Republicans presented as a run-up to George Bush’s acceptance speech.
After a few preliminaries, we discovered the first, and rather poorly-kept, secret of the evening: former General Tommy Franks had been added to the program. Franks had publicly endorsed Bush for re-election on Tuesday, an unexpected development first reported by the RNC bloggers. That interview seemed like a warm-up to the speech, as many of the same themes that came through in our talk wound up in his speech.
I anticipated that Franks would be popular with the crowd, but he was even more successful than I’d have guessed. Franks speaks excellently and offered little in smooth words; he sounded like Zell Miller, only more irritated than angry. He finished his speech to raucous approval by announcing the time would soon come that America could welcome all its troops home, including those who served America in Viet Nam. He turned and saluted a group of veterans on the stage behind him.
Left unspoken but understood by all was the reference to the reception that Viet Nam vets got when they returned home over 30 years ago, and John Kerry’s role in creating the environment which caused them to be reviled.
Another last-minute addition to this evening’s agenda was Mel Martinez, who just won the Republican primary for the open Senate seat in Florida. Martinez spoke about his life as an immigrant to this country, mirroring the speech of Arnold Schwarzenegger two nights ago. I suspect that Martinez got added to the schedule not so much to reinforce Arnold’s welcoming message to immigrants but to bolster Martinez’s credentials in what will probably be a tough race. Martinez himself noted that he had just won that primary 24 hours previous to his speech.
Martinez made his way to America with nothing more than a suitcase, and has made himself a success story. He spoke about hard work and the opportunities that America has for those who reach for them. I liked the speech, although I thought he went on a bit too long. Because people knew when the keynote speeches were scheduled, they seemed to be more interested in maneuvering around the arena at first than in Martinez, but by the time he finished, he had their full attention. I’m not sure how it played on TV, but I suspect it worked even better there than live here.
I’m sure adding Martinez helped Bush, or at least made no difference, but the question is this: how successful was Martinez for his own election? Unfortunately, a good deal of his intended audience probably missed his speech. I don’t think it was covered by the networks or the netlets, and even some of those who would have watched on C-SPAN were busily evacuating in the face of the oncoming hurricane.