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Big Apple Breakfast

Bush: You either love him or you hate him

It’s proving to be a pretty divisive time in this political day and age with the number of undecided voters much smaller than usual, just two months out from Election Day. So it was no surprise last night then that retiring Georgia Senator Zell Miller, a Democrat playing in the biggest of Republican sandboxes, tugged on the strings of the GOP base and fired them up. His speech was very caustic, very inciting, and very revealing about the strategy that the GOP will be taking this fall to reelect their man to the highest office in the land.

Here in New York, there is quite a dichotomy between the mood inside the convention hall and the one just outside of it. Inside, there are delegates, alternates, and invited guests wearing everything from diamond studded “W” lapel pins to large “W ’04” belt buckles. There was even an alternate wearing a George W. Bush zucchetto (zucchetto is the pope’s hat). Not that the partisans in Boston were any less creative–although I don’t recall any reports of John Kerry yarmulkes. The larger point is that not many people really love or hate the Democratic nominee, but the same absolutely cannot be said of the president.

And with all the TV commentary about the “politics of hate” and a “divided electorate,” the attitudes the public has expressed about their love and hate of President Bush is a manifestation of the most basic of political facts in a year when a president is running for reelection: it’s all about the incumbent. No matter how well John Kerry does in the polls, this election will forever be George W. Bush’s to win or lose. And as long as the number of undecided voters dwindles, having Zell Miller invigorate your base is a smart move.

It was like being Cheney-ed down

With all the excitement of a melting ice cube, Vice President Dick Cheney gave a pointed critique of the Democratic challenger John Kerry last night, setting some high expectations for the president’s acceptance speech tonight. To be fair to the vice president, he was clear, concise, and his speech was well written. So well written, in fact, that it didn’t matter that his voice didn’t modulate during the 30-some minutes he spent at the podium–the crowd still cheered at the appropriate times.

Sometimes the one-liners weren’t enough to get the crowd excited. About two-third of the way through the speech, when Cheney’s monotonous delivery had some alternates and guests heading for the exits, it took the concentrated efforts of the Oklahoma and Colorado delegations to get the floor to start chanting “Flip-flop, flip-flop” and start waving their arms back and forth. (Your Crystal Ball has a strong stomach, but a very nice woman sitting immediately to the rear proclaimed, “Their arm waving is making me dizzy,” and then “I don’t feel so well.” After an unpleasant incident at another basketball stadium, the Crystal Ball does not feel comfortable sitting in front of people with queasy stomachs.)

But despite Cheney’s somber delivery and Miller’s downright nasty words, the two prime-time speakers have joined the long list of convention speakers that have failed to put forth any semblance of a second-term agenda. Much time has been devoted to Bush’s leadership after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, but where is the talk of finding and capturing Osama bin Laden. Instead, speakers simply talk about bringing the “terrorists” to justice–isn’t there one in particular the American people would like to see brought to justice? Where is the plan for Iraq and ending the occupation? To put it simply, what will a George W. Bush with four more years do besides continue to wage the war on terror and make permanent his tax cuts? There’s one man and one night left to answer these questions, and if he doesn’t, he’ll–as Ricky often told Lucy–“have some ‘splaining to do.”