Thursday, September 02, 2004

Republican Convention: Zell's Bells

I have to confess, I haven't seen much of the Republican Convention. This may be because I know that if I watch it for too long, I'll start throwing things, and I like having my TV in one piece. (Also, the new cable jack only got here today, so I would have been sitting behind my sofa watching it.) But I've been reading it.

This morning I read Zell Miller's keynote address. Miller is a retiring Georgia senator and possibly the only Democrat alive to support Bush. Surprisingly, though, he had very little positive to say about Bush - it was more negative towards a party that he felt was playing partisan politics with national security and a candidate that he feels has no guiding principles.

It has been well chronicled among the pundits that the same vitriol he used in eviscerating Kerry was present when he eviscerated Bush 41 at the 1992 Democratic National Convention. But it's funny that Miller would accuse Kerry of waffling, and very odd indeed that he would criticize Kerry on his past record. It seems like Miller has pulled off the mother of all waffles.

Nowadays, Miller likes to fancy himself a conservative Democrat. He even wrote a book that he subtitled "The Conscience Of A Conservative Democrat." But as Governor of Georgia, he was anything but conservative. He launched an ambitious scholarship program that promised to send any Georgia high school student with a B average to a state-run college. He brought the Gay Games to Atlanta in 1996. He was a strong proponent of abortion rights. Some conservative. It is absurd that he changed so much since 1999 and fails to afford Kerry the same luxury.

What changed Zell? He claims that September 11th did part of it, and that's respectable. But his blind adherence to Bush's agenda does not serve our national security. He is falling victim to the classic "with us or against us" fallacy that Bush and his administration has put out. He seems to have forgotten the importance of the dialectic in our national politics, instead buying into the cult of personality around Bush. That's not strong on terror, that's insanity.

But many of Miller's position changes had nothing to do with September 11th, and everything to do with the Georgia political climate. He realized that Georgians were moving farther and farther to the right, and he followed them. This is a reasonable decision to make as a politician, and I respect him for it. But Zell turned around and accused Kerry of prevarication, and took Kerry to task for things he did long ago. That's not reasonable. That's hypocrisy. And even if you are responsible for the Hope Scholarships, hypocrisy is inexcusable.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Good points, Jeff. Yes, I agree with you, playing politics is one thing, but hypocrisy is something else entirely - possibly the worst trait one can have.