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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

On Tim Kaine's Debut

I must confess that I missed both President Bush's State of the Union speech and Governor Kaine's response last night. I was so tired by the time I got to my hotel room, I crashed about 8:30 and slept til 5:00.

I've been trying to get some idea as to how the two fared - the President in his effort to rally the nation to our War on Terror and Tim Kaine to not make a jackass out of himself on his first foray onto the national stage.

It appears, based on what I've read this evening and heard on the radio throughout the day, that GWB provided a relatively good delivery of an above-average speech. To most people watching it seemed to go over well and Bush appeared relaxed and focused.

Kaine's performance, on the other hand, is harder to judge. I read accounts from Kaine sycophants who thought he was superb - but probably thought so before the governor even opened his mouth - and you have those who have never supported him expressing their dismay at how bad his speech actually turned out to be. So which is it?

For a less partial analysis, I turned to Stephen Green, a blogger (see Vodkapundit) I tend to consider fair-minded. He live-blogged both Bush's speech and Kaine's response (see it here).

I think it's rather revealing that Green at first writes favorably about Kaine's delivery:
8:18pm Virginia is a state, just like all the others.

8:19pm Prompted, I suppose, by Hillary Clinton, Kaine started off by talking about his missionary work as a young man. Smart move.
Green then seems to indicate that Kaine is settling in to a good speech and warming to his subject-matter:

8:20pm Also, Kaine has that deer-in-the-headlights look. But I don't blame him for being nervous.

8:21pm So far, Kaine is playing from the Opposition Playbook. Comparing Clinton's surplusses with Bush's deficits, etc. Standard stuff, but he also seems to be relaxing a bit.
Within a few minutes, though, the wheels start to come off:

8:23pm There's not much to say here, because Kaine isn't actually, you know, responding to what Bush said. If the Democrats want to win, they've got to take Bush and the Republicans head on. Kaine isn't doing that. He's only five minutes into his speech, and he's already presented a longer "laundry list" than Bush did in an hour.

8:25pm "We must defeat those who attack and kill innocent people." Kaine is also talking about how some of those killed on 9/11 were killed right in his state.

This should be good stuff, but it isn't. Instead, Kaine is repeating the same old talking points we've heard for two years now. This is an unimpressive debut speech - and it has DNC fingerprints all over it.
And then the occasion is reduced to parody:

8:26pm OK, I have a 2008 Election Drinking Game. Every time between now and then, take a shot every time a Democrat says "there's a better way."

Your liver will give out long before the election. Maybe even before Kaine is done talking.

8:28pm I actually feel sorry for this guy. I'm sure that if he'd been taken off the leash, he could have given a credible response.

8:29pm Nice finish after a lackluster effort.
Well, at least he tried. And it wouldn't hurt to mention the fact that few people, it appears, either stayed to watch Tim Kaine's rebuttal or felt motivated to comment. In other words, nobody cared. In any case, it was, as many have suggested, an impossible task for a newcomer on the national stage to go up against the President after a State of the Union speech to be sure. The sacrificial-virgin-being-thrown-to-the-lions kinda thing.

So it's back to raising taxes for ol' Tim. For the foreseeable future, the White House will have to wait.

Quote Of The Day

Carroll and Sandra Day

[With regard to] the filibuster "attempt" led by the senator from Davos and the senator from Chappaquiddick.

The latter, Ted Kennedy, delivered an apoplectic oration just before the Senate voted for cloture--that is, to allow a confirmation vote--by 72-25. The text (in PDF) begins here, but you have to see Kennedy's performance to believe it, and ExposeTheLeft.com (né The Political Teen) has video of the last four minutes or so.

The Kennedy show had the feel of Archie Bunker losing his temper at the Meathead on "All in the Family"--and as we thought about it, we realized this is an extraordinarily apt analogy. Kennedy, like Archie, is an old bigot who pines for the moral clarity of an earlier time. He kept talking about the "march of progress"--i.e., the civil rights era--as if that march had not long ago reached its destination, as if the moral questions facing the country and the court today were as black-and-white as segregation.

Not that we disagree with every word of what Kennedy said. At the end of his speech, he declared, "I understand my time has expired." Truer words were never spoken.

The incomparable James Taranto, "Best of the Web Today, February 1, 2006 (link)

Let Me Decode This For You

Ever watch the Independent Film Channel (IFC) on cable? If not let me describe its offerings. Half the movies televised are about homosexuals struggling through their ... issues, and the other half are insufferably awful. Here, though, is how IFC flicks would be described by aficionados:

Small Films With Potent Themes
That, by the way, is also the way the films nominated for Best Picture of the Year by the Oscar judges is described by the New York Times:

Small Films With Potent Themes Lead Oscar Nominations (link)
And here is how Times journalist Sharon Waxman characterizes the picks:

In a year when size has counted for less than serious intent among voters, Oscar nominations were divvied up on Tuesday among mainly small films with deep political and social themes, from gay romance to the abuse of government power to racial relations to the cycle of vengeance in the Middle East.
Decoded she means Hollywood is patting itself on the back - again - for making yet more insufferably bad movies with deep social themes, more movies about gay guys, more movies about the bad old USA, (for the umpteenth time) more movies about racism in America, and more movies celebrating moral relativism.

For the love of God.

Oh, did I forget to mention the nominees? They are:

Brokeback Mountain - a movie about gay sheep herders ...
Good Night, and Good Luck - Another movie about "the McCarthy era." Wake me when its over.
Crash - Another movie about racism in America. It was better with Sidney Poitier.
Munich - Another movie that tries to equate Israel's attempt at self-defense with the attempts on the part of Islamist terrorists to kill every Jewish man, woman, and child on the planet.
Capote - Another movie about a gay guy, this time a very troubled writer.

Now let's go back to that "small movie" business. These five movies were small mostly because nobody went to see them. They've already been made and seen. Many, many times. Gay guys struggling against a bigoted America? Again? Racism in America? For the 197th time? Movies about the reactionary ultra-right wing in America? How many does this make? I've lost count. By the way, another movie that didn't make the list but could have is George Clooney's Syriana, a movie purportedly blaming the problems in the Middle East on evil multi-national corporations and their pals in the CIA! Yeah, that works.


I'll have no interest in these movies when they get to the $1.00 rack at Blockbuster.

These nominations are just another indication that Hollywood has become irrelevant. It also explains why Hollywood is dying.

Regardless what Hollywood wants us to believe and in spite of the manner in which writers for the New York Times characterize the results, the people have spoken. The nominees for Best Picture 2005 are NOT Brokeback Mountain, Good Night, and Good Luck, Crash, Munich, or Capote.

Here are the rankings for the five, based on ticket sales in the USA in 2005:

Crash - 48th (just ahead of something called Be Cool)
Brokeback Mountain - 52nd (beaten out by Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, for God's sake)
Munich - 68th (behind a whole lot of movies I've never even heard of)
Good Night and Good Luck - 99th (every ticket buyer must have been a member of the academy)
Capote - Didn't make the top 100 movies of 2005. (link)

My guess is, come Oscar night, all the celebrating that a handful of people will witness will sound a whole lot like whistling - past the graveyard.

But celebrate they will. And then Hollywood will go back to making movies. Hey, I know, how about a movie about two gay black Arabs who stumble upon a CIA plot to help Israel take control of the Temple Mount? And we'll use Tom Delay as the ...