Thursday, September 02, 2004

Give 'Em Zell

Pundits, even those on my side, admire smooth, clever wordplay delivered with finesse. President Ronald Reagan was the master without equal, but what made him so persuasive was that he employed his rhetorical skills to express truths in which he believed unapologetically.

Last night, in his historic address to the Republican National Convention, Senator Zell Miller spoke plainly and passionately of his ideological journey from FDR to W, articulating what so many of us think. After his speech, he called Chris Matthews to task for his boorish partisanship, articulating what so many of us think. Miller has no reason to apologize for his lack of finesse. This was a long overdue smackdown, not a meltdown.

Some conservative spinmeisters are already pronouncing Zell’s zingers too hot for the heartland. Hogwash! Frank Luntz’s MSNBC polling group of “undecided swing voters” (we’ll just have to take their word for it) overwhelmingly approved of Miller’s speech, citing his credibility as a Democrat and former Marine. Indeed, 11 out of 17 said Miller’s speech made them more inclined to vote for Bush-Cheney.

Sometimes I think my conservative brethren are like squeamish puritans, too much of the mind and not of the flesh. I value the service they provide in the factory of ideas, but the ideological war will be won or lost here on the ground, where Americans appreciate the simple, unpolished truth as an antidote to demagoguery from the left. That is one reason George W. Bush and Zell Miller appeal so compellingly to Republicans, Democrats and independents.

Zell Miller saw a momentous fork in the road and, as Yogi Berra would say, he took it, forever redefining the phrase lame duck Democrat. He deserves our thanks, not our ivory tower condescension.

In the event that Miller's preemptive strike against the liberal media sparks a grassroots movement, I have the slogan ready to roll: "We're mad as Zell and we're not going to take it any more!"

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