Monday night. Watching Rudi G throw down for the Dub. Opening line says it all: “Welcome to the Capitol of the World.” Mwah hah hah! Quel cowboi, non? Everyone knows the capitol of the world is Brussels.

You want to know why it’s wise to invite the moderates to address the convention? Because they reach the tens of millions of Americans who don’t have any party loyalty, who are frankly bemused by the very idea, who are gut-sick of hearing each side claim it’s the embodiment of truth and perfection. They hear Rudy say this:

Neither party has a monopoly on virtue; we don’t have all the right ideas, they don’t have all the wrong ideas, but I do believe there are times in history when our ideas are more necessary, and more important, and critical. And this is one of those times – when we are facing war and danger.

Privately, of course, people feel a little stronger about the distribution of right and wrong, but that’s for the back room when ties loosen and the bottles open. But what Giuliani did was completely typical: aggressive graciousness. It’s why people who disagree with many of his positions admire him greatly, and why he spoke Monday night. And dang: he was good. He was hard: first time I’ve heard someone get up and slam Arafat by name in such a context. A sharp elbow at Germany. A Kerry section played mostly for laughs. An amazing last 10 minutes - dodged nothing. It was like watching a blacksmith at work while he whistled opera.

I liked the Sept. 14 anecdote, where a construction worker at Ground Zero gives Bush a big hug. He had told the President what he thought should be done to the terrorists, and had used construction worker language. “I can’t tell you what he said – this is the Republican convention,” Giuliani said. Big laugh. A wink and a nod: we cuss, we just don’t do it in front of the children and horses. The president responded to the suggestions by saying “you’re right!” and the construction worker, overwhelmed by the moment, embraced Bush in a spine-cracking hug. A Secret Service agent, already annoyed that the President was staying too long in this unsafe place, said “if this guy hurts the president, Giuliani, you’re finished.”

For some reason, I think that tale has more relevance to modern times than the resuscitation of a hamster.

McCain – eh. Didn’t listen. He reminds me of Don Rickles’ brother. The smart one who went to college and never made as much money as his famous sibling, and it rankled. Oh how it rankled.

Old media at its best. (h/t insty). From the Knoxvville News Sentinel's Nashville Bureau chief, blogginating prior to the convention:

But, what the heck, if I’m going to sit here the evening before deserting my family for almost a week to watch Republican worship ceremonies for George W. Bush, not so long Democratic devotional on caring for John Kerry, might as well ramble a bit.

After all, bloggers, I am instructed, do not have to follow those ironclad rules of attribution, fact-checking, logic and such that burden the daily production of stuff to print by traditionally ink-stained wretches. You can just babble like a talk show radio guy.

It’s interesting for several reasons: 1. the site is described as a “web-only blog,” which of course makes it distinctive from blogs disseminated by carrier pigeon or smoke signals. 2. we learn that the bureau chief for a major newspaper has trouble writing clearly. My bureau chief in DC would have sent back that first paragraph with several red question marks indicating she had no idea what the words between the first and last comma actually meant. The second graf is even better: “logic and such that burden the daily production of stuff to print by traditionally ink-stained wretches.” Wow. The daily production of stuff to print. And by who? Wretches. What kind? Ink-stained! Why? Because it’s a cliché. And how are they ink-stained? Traditionally! Yes, we’re all taken to the basement where we have our palm sliced with an old piece of linotype; ink is daubed into the wound, and we face a portrait of Joseph Pulitzer while holding our genitals in our left hand.

I wouldn’t have noted this had it not been for something I read in the paper this morning. Cheney was speaking on Ellis Island.
“Saying that ‘we all remember’ President Bush’s visit to ground zero in the days after the attacks – when he shouted through a bullhorn, ‘I can hear you,’ to the gathered rescue workers – the vice president added: ‘The people who knocked down those buildings down will soon hear from all of us.’”

There you have it: the paragraph is wrong in terms of attribution, fact-checking, and logic, a/k/a the "production of stuff." The quote attributed to Cheney on Aug 29 is of course the rest of the President’s quote from his trip to the Pile. It was the moment that turned the mood. I remember it clearly. Fact-checking: no one checked to see if the Cheney attribution was accurate. Logic: does it make sense that Cheney would say that on August 29th? Is he promising new additional war against Afghanistan Al-Qaeda camps? But there it is.

Blame the New York Times. Their original story, massaged somewhere down the stream, was this:

Saying "we all remember" President Bush's visit to ground zero in the days after the attacks - when he shouted through a bullhorn, "I can hear you," to the gathered rescue workers, adding, "The people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon."

Lousy writing. Someone thought it meant that Cheney added the lines, and put his name in. But who ever changed the sentence doesn’t remember Bush’s remarks on the Pile – even though it was one of those moments of impromptu wartime rhetoric that makes the clip reels.

As events would have it, that line was Giuliani rhetorical touchstone for his opening moments: they heard from us in Libya. They heard from us in nations that are reluctant to sponsor terrorism. “So long as George Bush is president, is there any doubt they will continue to hear from us?”

Read the papers, and you might wonder why he’s quoting Cheney. Read the blogs, and you know exactly why.


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