PoliTechs Ramblings

Friday, September 03, 2004

Zig Zag Zel and the GOP convention

If you have followed the convention at all, then you are aware of Zel Miller, the Democratic Senator from Georgia, who was the keynote speaker for the Republican Party's convention this past Wednesday. Miller ripped Kerry, his own party's candidate, many times and in many ways. Tim Russert referred to the speech as "slash-and-burn attack" and a "full-frontal assault" on Kerry. George Stephanopoulos described it as "red meat for the red states."

My problem is not with the simple fact that a Democrat gave the address, I do not think party-loyalty is all that important, certainly not as important as loyalty to one's values. However, when someone so clearly goes back and forth in matters like this it is simply appalling. Not to mention in a time when we hear about Kerry's accused "flip-flopping" I am amazed the Republicans would call on Zel.

This is the first time in history that someone has given the keynote address at both a Democratic convention and a Republican convention. In 1992 Zel was the keynote speaker for the Democrats and voraciously attacked the first Bush. It is bad enough that he made this much of a turn around. However, I can understand changing your position over the course of 8 years and with new players on the political scene. That, apparently, is not the case however.

On March 1, 2001 Senator Zel Miller introduced Kerry at the Democratic Party of Georgia's Jefferson-Jackson dinner. His introduction was not one of polite, political talk but one of outright praise and respect.

"My job tonight is an easy one: to present to you one of the nations authentic heroes, one this party's best-known and greatest leaders, and a good friend ... John Kerry has fought against government waste, and worked hard to bring some accountability to Washington ... John has worked to strengthen our military, reform public education, boost the economy and protect the environment."
In the span of three years, Zel Miller has gone from a good friend and supporter of John Kerry to the Republican Party's pitbull. Again, I could understand growing frustrated with your own party, and supporting the other side, and their candidate, in the span of three years (especially with all that has happened in the past three years). But what makes someone turn 360 degrees and attack, both personally and professionally, a "friend" after praising them so heavily 3 years before. I doubt Kerry's positions and accomplishments have changed that much in the last three years.

On a bit of a separate note, it was downright outrageous how Zel practically called Kerry unpatriotic because he and his party felt it necessary to question both the need for and the execution of the war in Iraq. Questioning the actions of our government, and especially the President, is one of the most patriotic and American things you can do.

Furthermore, I am suprised at the actions of the Republican Party after Zel's speech. Fine, bring in an "insider", a Democrat to criticize Kerry. Then move on. That's not what happened though; they have continued to attack Kerry. I think the conventions should be a springboard for the campaign's platform, and rallying point for the party. I don't think Americans like negative campaigning at all. I could care less why you don't like Kerry, I do care what you plan to do with this country, then I will decide who I like. Apparently, the opinions of both side are questionable, otherwise we wouldn't have an election. So let me make the decision.

It is also very unfortunate that the GOP chose to make this speech the keynote address. The Democrats had Barack Obama as their keynote speaker. His speech was an impassioned, on-target, well-delivered speech that offered hope and direction. It was the sort of speech that rallies a party to the cause and to their values. Which is what conventions are all about in the first place right?

UPDATE: Shortly after finishing this post, I ran into another blog entry about the whole situation, with some interesting links. First, MSNBC reports that the Bush campaign had tried to move away from Zel's comments after the harsh criticism they received from both sides of the aisle. There is a Slate column with an outstanding analysis and debunking of the lies in Miller's speech. And, for those who are interested, the full text of the speech is also available.

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