By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Because they only covered three nights of the Democratic convention, the networks decided not to carry the Republicans’ opening night, which meant you could only see Giuliani on cable. So even if the ex-mayor gave the performance of his life — Kristol called it a “four elephant” speech, a rating system I’m unfamiliar with — how many people actually saw it? And any advantage star power might have given the Republicans on Monday and Tuesday was lost as soon as you saw that Dick Cheney was their scheduled speaker for Wednesday. Are Americans really going to turn on their televisions just to watch Cheney? I doubt it. Even Cheney wouldn’t watch Cheney, which may be the only endearing thing about him.
By the second night of the convention, the senior Fox news analysts — Brit Hume, Fred Barnes, Mort Kondracke, Mara Liasson and Kristol — were looking reasonably confident that the GOP was still on the roll that began with the Swift Boat Veterans shooting holes in John Kerry’s anti-war war-hero credentials. Not that all the analysts are Republicans, of course. Kondracke and Liasson are, I think, supposed to be Democrats, but if so they come very close to keeping it to themselves. This is also a crowd much lower in testosterone than the O’Reilly/Hannity faction. Hume, who anchors the discussions, is mild-mannered and droopy, and he rarely gets excited about anything. The panelists appear to have absolutely no vision of what politics might be in some different, better world. Idealism, if they ever had it, is something they left behind in college. But if nothing else, they prove that Fox can be just as dull as any other channel.
As definitive proof of this, Hume invited guest commentator Michael Barone of U.S. News and World Report, to whom he gave a rapturous introduction as a “leading expert on American politics and all-around renaissance man,” to offer us his “thoughts on tonight’s proceedings.” “Well, my thoughts on tonight’s proceedings, Brit,” Barone began, tipping off to the fact that there was only going to be one thought, “was . . .” And then he rambled on about this and that, and nobody will ever remember a word he said.
The big controversy of the night was whether the Bush twins were good for the ticket or whether they’d managed to sink their father’s election chances in five quick minutes of prime-time TV. (“My daughters are a pain in the ass,” Bush once famously growled, which suggests what hemight think.) Actually, though they were unbelievably bratty, they also had some quite funny lines. (“Since we graduated from college, we’re looking around for something to do in the next few years — kind of like Dad.”) Kristol wasn’t having any of it, though. Wincing through his smiles, or smiling through his winces, he argued that putting Bush’s wife and daughters on the podium had not helped the president’s campaign. Liasson concurred — “The Bush twins were trying to poke some fun at themselves and at their image, but they seemed to confirm it” — and Kondracke was even more adamant. “If there’s a First Children’s contest,” he said, “I would think that Vanessa and Alexandra Kerry whupped the two Bush girls by miles. They came off, frankly, as ditzes.”
So who says Fox won’t criticize Republicans? (Or Republican teens, anyway.) The next thing you know, they might actually criticize Republican politics.