As Republicans assembled for their 38th national convention in New York Monday, they were more confident and optimistic than they would have been had they assembled just a week before. A spate of polls released late in the week showing George W. Bush with (statistically insignificant) leads over John Kerry replaced earlier polls showing Kerry with (statistically insignificant) leads over Bush. The Kerry campaign was clearly floundering in its attempts to deal with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads. The Kerry campaign has abandoned Kerry's claim, asserted in the Boston Herald in 1979, on the floor of the Senate in 1986, and to the Associated Press that he had served in Cambodia in Christmas 1968 (a memory "searedsearedin me"); it is now inoperative. Kerry's frequent claims to have been on one or more secret missions to Cambodia in early 1969 stand totally uncorroborated; they may be true, but no one else has stepped forward to substantiate them. Kerry himself has been sealed off from reporters but has to face the American Legion on Wednesday.
The Bush-Cheney '04 campaign rolled out a successful Monday, culminating in two stunning speeches in very different keys by John McCain and Rudolph Giuliani. McCain was tersely eloquent, elegant as usual in his use of words, unambiguous in his endorsement of his 2000 primary rival. He set out an impressive intellectually serious defense of the war in Iraq. But he did not elicit huge cheers. His biggest applause line was his dig at a "disingenuous filmmaker"Michael Moore, who was in the press boxes, presumably preparing his column for USA Today. (That paper has produced some fine coverage of this campaign, but has made oddball choices for columnists to cover the other party's conventions; it picked the over-the-top vitriolic Ann Coulter to cover the Democratic convention, then ditched her for the more sensible choice of Jonah Goldberg; will it ditch the over-the-top vitriolic Moore as well? Open your hotel room door Tuesday morning and pick up USA Today and see.)
Rudy Giuliani made a much longer speech, with many more humorous asides (some apparently ad-libbed from the podium), but also making strong substantive arguments for George W. Bushand against John Kerry. I stood next to the Texas delegation as he was speaking, and the delegates there were cheering and applauding loudlyGiuliani's New York accent translates well into Texan.