Some short personal random takes beyond the OSM piece, which was primarily focused on the new media aspects of the event:
It’s amazing, in an odd sort of way, how politicians practically think and breathe in speeches. It’s a bit like a salesman memorizing his patter (something I did for a few years) or a radio interviewee (something I’ve also done) knowing his. As James Lileks recently wrote, the trick is making the patter sound fresh each time you fire it off–because you know you’ll be firing the riffs off all the time.
Some politicians go beyond that of course, to talk purely in soundbites. Bill Frist managed to work his medical background into just about every other sentence: I’m a physician. I’m a surgeon. As a doctor… And that was in the first minute of his speech to us.
Say Bill, you’re not a doctor by any chance, are you? If Frist runs for the White House, these lines have a very good chance of being his equivalent of another senator’s cliche: a haughty, French-looking fellow from Massachusetts–who, by the way, served in Vietnam.
Speaking of Frist, Betsy Newmark is spot-on when she writes
Right Side Redux has the video of Senator Frist’s response to a question that starts off with Harry Potter and ends up asking when the GOP in the Senate is going to get some backbone. It’s a cute question and Frist answers it with boilerplate about being a leader of a conservative movement, yadda, yadda, yadda. He doesn’t have an answer for the part about getting some backbone because he so obviously is finding his weakened more and more each week.
It’s gotten to the point that, in a week when Democrats and some Republicans have launched an all-out attack on the conduct of the war in Iraq and the GOP’s domestic agenda is stalled in both houses, Frist is out there stating that asbestos legislation will be the “Senate’s top priority” in 2006. We’re at war; Congressmen and Senators are talking about deadlines for pulling out and this guy’s top priority is asbestos? Geesh!
Indeed, to coin an adverb.
Jonathan Rauch was dead-on in “The Accidental Radical“: traditional Buckley/Reagan/Gingrich style conservatism is either dead, or on long-term hiatus, when one Republican senator (I forget who) can say in back-to-back sentences, “We’ve expanded Medicare and health insurance access for all. And we need to keep looking for ways to trim the budget.” Doubleplusgood use of newspeak, old boy! Hello–why not stop trying expand entitlements and “free” goodies for everyone? That’s where the bulk of the spending is increasing.
It’s kind of a shame a hardcore libertarian like Radley Balko or one of the Reason boys wasn’t present yesterday. When George Allen–who is guaranteed to be perceived as a conservative if he runs for the White House in ’08 can praise opening commuter lanes to electric cars as one of his home state’s solutions to energy efficiency, and not get that it’s the commuter lanes themselves that bog down highways and make them less efficient, that’s a huge stolen base for the anti-automobile segment of the far left.
As I noted in my post about the OSM launch, New York Times fashion contributor Elizabeth Hayt thinks we’re in midst of a conservative theocracy. But it’s been ten years since the GOP took control of Congress, they’ve held the Senate for most of that period, and January will mark five years of President Bush in office. Meantime, the gift shop inside that theocratic GOP-controlled Senate sells festive “Holiday” ornaments. To place on your non-demoninational winter solstitial temporary interior tree.
That’s a theocracy? Only to a woman who just knows she’s this close to being fitted for a burka with GOP elephants printed on it. (Probably made of polyester, too.)