Thursday, October 14, 2004

Debate watching at Hotel Cheney: the good stuff from the inside! 

I covered tonight's rally where Cheney and his wife were watching in their hotel suite. They made brief comments before the debate, watched the debate upstairs, then came down to comment afterwards. To the highlights:

* Beforehand -- and I am not making this up -- there was a lengthy and bizarre prayer in which the presiding priest prayed to the Almighty that President Bush be "blessed with the power of articulate speech." Yes, the priest prayed that W wouldn't come off looking like an idiot. He also prayed for Bush to win, for the campaign to finish strong, etc. He really ought to get together with those athletes who say Jesus Christ hit their home run or caught their touchdown pass.

* The crowd laughed and snickered derisively -- and loudly -- when Kerry mentioned his mother as a strong woman in his life who had passed away two years ago. Classy.

* I had a great view of the crowd. There were between 500 and 700 people in the ballroom. Exactly two partygoers were black. On stage? Three black people, a man and two women. And I'm sure it'll shock you to find out that in the camera shots, only one person was visible over Cheney's left shoulder: the black guy.

* They played the standard Bush/Cheney soundtrack at the party: all country music. They need to modify this for Pittsburgh. This isn't Oklahoma. These people are rich doctors, corporate lawyers and accountants. The parking lot was full of BMW's. They don't know Martina McBride from Martina Navratilova. Know thine audience!

* The assembled BushHeads applauded wildly when the President made his crack that you can't trust leading news organizations ("Ha ha! Just listen to Rush and you'll get all the news you need!") They then cheered wildly at no fewer than three of Bob Schieffer's questions of Senator Kerry that they thought were particularly hard-hitting. Guess his evil liberal bias was just in remission tonight.

* The crowd was amusingly split on abortion. The applause was lukewarm at best as Bush dodged the Roe v. Wade question for the umpteenth time, and one GOP woman actually risked life and limb to cheer Kerry's response. On gay marriage: much the same, as everyone in the crowd thought of their gay relative or friend.

* Finally, afterwards, in what has to be one of the nastiest comments I've heard, Lynne Cheney said to the crowd, of John Kerry: "He's not a good man. He's not a good man." Then she said something about how what Kerry did was a dirty trick and how she's speaking as an "indignant Mom." I didn't really know what she was talking about, and she didn't explain it to the crowd. Really bizarre. Maybe the thing about Kerry's mother? I was baffled. This comment should find its way into the national media, but it probably won't. Seriously: I am disgusted that she -- or any of the candidates or spouses -- would call their opponent not a good human being. What a horrendously nasty thing to say. I can't ever remember hearing anything like it from either side before.

UPDATE: AP says LC was referring to Kerry's comment about their daughter. The "Mom" thing makes sense now. Looking at the transcript of the debate, I don't think it was a cheap shot, and I certainly don't think it was a very adult response from LC.

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