Thursday, September 2 2004
ZELL GIVES 'EM HELL:
You'll have to pardon my French, but I had no idea they made cans of whoop ass that big. Last night Zell Miller opened one up on John Kerry, eviscerating Kerry's thirty-year record on national defense in about 15 minutes. It was the toughest political speech I've ever heard, delivered with a passion that was as deep as it was obvious.

And therein may lie a problem. Let's be blunt: Zell wasn't just angry last night, he was mad as hell. And he didn't waste any time taking out the brickbat and swinging away. But as I watched from the floor I kept wondering, "is this speech too much, is Zell being too angry and too tough?"

Anger can be an effective tool in politics, if used selectively. One thing you don't want to do, however, is to let anger become a central and consistent part of the campaign, which is something the Kerry folks have been struggling with for a long time now.

But there is also a big difference between being seen as angry and being seen as mean. Politicians walk that line at their own peril, and the question is whether Miller crossed it last night.

Personally, I don't think he did. Miller's anger was directed at his party in general and at John Kerry's abysmal voting record on national security in particular. Miller didn't attack Kerry as a person, only the votes he's cast and the statements he's made as a publicly elected official. All fair game.

Democrats are certainly going to play the anger angle against Zell as best they can - which in addition to being the smart thing to do may be the ONLY thing they can do to try and fend off Miller's devastating assault last night. Jay Carson, a Democratic spokesman, is quoted in today's NY Times saying of Miller, "This angry old man is scaring the children.''

The Dems will get an assist from some members of the mainstream media, many of whom I'm sure were shocked - shocked! -and appalled by what they saw and heard from Miller last night. (Incidentally, Ann Curry from the Today show just reported in her news wrap that Miller suggested John Kerry wanted to arm US soldiers with spit balls and Campbell Brown said Miller called Kerry "unpatriotic." Is that really what he did, ladies?)

When the Wall Street Journal interviewed the bloggers attending the RNC a couple of weeks back and asked us which speech we were most interested in hearing, I was the only one who said Zell Miller. The reason I chose Miller is because there are few things in campaigns that can be as potentially explosive and devastating as having a member of the opposite party endorse your candidacy. The fact that Miller was so angry and so animated on the stage last night only added power to what was already a remarkable event in this race: a Democrat, albeit one in the Scoop Jackson/Harry Truman tradition, publicly repudiating his party's nominee for President of the United States and endorsing George W. Bush. - T. Bevan 8:15 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

 

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