"OVER THE TOP" FOR THE TEXAN
the Fourth Session of the 37th Republican National Convention
Thursday, August 3, 2000
RICHARD E. BERG-ANDERSSON
The Fourth Session of the 37th Republican National Convention was gaveled into order by Permanent Chairman Dennis Hastert a few minutes before 7:30 P.M. EDT (2330 UTC) on Wednesday 2 August 2000. Hastert noted that "without objection, this Convention will proceed this evening with Business Out of Order" (an indication that the Official Schedule for this evening had been changed: changes which would have an admittedly slight effect on this Session's proceedings but which would be occasionally noticeable as speakers would mention things that had not yet been done- as well as things done much earlier- as they seemed to be simply reading whatever was put in front of them on the teleprompter. As noted where appropriate in my account below, where this occurred, it was clear indication that this Convention, after all, was a tightly controlled gathering far removed from the Democracy in Action its organizers pretended it promoted to the World). "With no objection, hearing none" [why WOULD he not hear none?], Hastert intoned, "so ordered".
Hastert then stated that he "would like to ask all Americans to keep President Gerald Ford and his wife Betty in their thoughts and prayers" [the former President, who had actually been present in the galleries at the tribute to him during the Convention Session the night before, had suffered a series of minor strokes over the last few days and was, at that moment, in Philadelphia's Hahneman Hospital]. "President Ford is resting... and we will ask God to give him strength and healing during this time", the Convention Chairman added before calling for the start of that evening's Opening Ceremonies.
The Presentation of the Colors was made by Boy Scout Troop 82 of Somerset, KY and the Campfire Boys and Girls of Pennsylvania; Joe Guerra- Mayor pro Tem of Laredo, Texas- led the Pledge of Allegiance and Rebecca King, a native of Oklahoma of Chickasaw Nation heritage, sang an orchestral version of the National Anthem filled with extended phrasing which many of the delegates singing along found somewhat difficult to follow. The invocation was given by recently retired San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young, who included a special blessing for former President Ford and his wife "in their time of healing that is necessary."
After the Colors were retired, the Convention was treated to "The Rock", the World Wrestling Federation champion, briefly- along with Speaker Hastert- urging young people to register to vote. This was followed by the Delfonics performing their 1968 Soul hit La-La-Means I Love You and Harold Melvin's Blue Notes doing the 1976 hit Wake Up Everybody until it was time for the evening's Theme of "Prosperity with A Purpose: Keeping America Prosperous and Protecting Retirement Security" to get under way. Kenny Gamble, as a songwriter and producer one of the foundations of the early 1970's "Philadelphia Sound" in Soul music, spoke about his Universal Community Homes- an urban renewal project in South Philadelphia. He argued forcefully that urban blight was "not a Democratic problem or a Republican problem- this is an American problem". Gamble told the Convention that he applauded Governor Bush for "emphasizing the Responsibility which accompanies Prosperity" and noted that "the problems in Urban America, they must be resolved!"
Mr. Gamble was followed by Hector Barreto of California, chairman of the Latin Business Institute who declared that "George W. Bush is the best hope for 24 million small businesses... from the 'dot com's to the 'not com' s" and then Gayle White, a farmer/rancher from Oklahoma who- though a lifelong Democrat- was supporting her "fellow rancher" George W. Bush because he understood that "our land is the most meaningful inheritance we can leave for our families". But Ms. White then went on to inadvertently underscore some more of the contradictions and inconsistencies within the political philosophy underlying the Republican Party: after noting that there were "fewer farms today than at any time since the Civil War", she went on to note that "prices are low: we cannot survive when it costs us more to produce our crops than we receive in the marketplace"- but wasn't the GOP a champion of the "free market" which facilitated such conditions? She decried government bureaucrats "who tell us how to use our own land" but unhesitatingly supported the negotiation of treaties to "open up foreign markets", something that would feed a different level and kind of government bureaucracy- "while ensuring unsafe food stays off the shelves of our supermarkets", in effect a policy to force other nations to open up their markets without their necessarily being allowed to sell in ours- but how well did this dovetail with the "free trade" promoted by Arizona Congressman Jim Kolbe just the night before? Farm Policy seemed to be yet another area where the Bush/Cheney campaign would have to walk a tightrope during the Fall campaign.
Convention co-Chair Jennifer Dunn of Washington came on stage to introduce the next speaker and we had the first "hiccup" caused by the "Business Out of Order" declared earlier by Convention Chairman Hastert when Dunn opened her introduction with the statement that "Community initiatives like El Barrio are changing lives"- except that El Barrio Center for Training and Employment in Cleveland, Ohio was the subject of yet another one of these "Profiles in Compassion" videos which, as things turned out, had been moved to another part of the evening's Session: that is, Dunn was referring to something no one at the Convention had yet seen! Another sign as to how scripted this whole thing was.
The next speaker was Leilani Durate of Wisconsin, a single mom who explained to the Convention how her Governor, Tommy Thompson's welfare reform policies had helped her get off Welfare and, instead, had her working (interestingly, in the county office where she had first applied for government financial assistance several years earlier). Another single mother, Kim Jennings of Arkansas, talked about how tax relief would be necessary in order for people like her to be able to juggle careers, continuing education and raising their children. Continuing the tax-slashing theme, we next saw Governor Jim Gilmore of Virginia address the Convention.
After this, the Convention continued its series of breaches of Convention tradition by actually nominating the candidate for Vice-President BEFORE the Convention had nominated the Presidential candidate! This had originally been scheduled for AFTER the completion of the third "round" of the "Rolling Roll Call", just before Dick Cheney would be delivering his acceptance speech that night (itself a breach of tradition, as we will soon see). But now out came Temporary Chairman Trent Lott to the dais to explain the Republican rules involving nominating a candidate by Acclamation of the Convention instead of by a Roll Call of the States, as was the case with the Party's nomination for President.
Accordingly, a delegate from Cheney's Wyoming formally placed the name of the former Defense Secretary in nomination for Vice President; this was seconded by a delegate from Ohio while a delegate from Washington made the motion to nominate Cheney by Acclamation. The question was ordered, the "Ayes" had it and Richard B. Cheney was, by Acclamation, the Republican Vice Presidential nominee (and we didn't yet officially have a GOP Presidential nominee!). I will give credit where credit is due for one thing, however: this particular event was handled a whole lot better than the formal naming of Governor Bush as a candidate (of course, the ONLY candidate so named) for the nomination for President two days earlier and much better followed ordinary parliamentary procedure.
After an Escort Committee was named by Senator Lott to "officially inform" the former Defense Secretary that he had been nominated (like he didn't know!), Convention co-Chair Henry Bonilla of Texas took over for Dunn and introduced Rudy Bradley, a former Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives who had switched to the Republican Party and was now running as a GOP candidate for his State's Senate. Bradley explained to the assemblage that he had made the switch because the GOP was for "redefining the role of Government, not ending it" (a clear reference to the "new" Republican Party this Convention was trying to promote as opposed to earlier incarnations of the GOP, for surely the Democrats were not for "ending Government"!). He accused Democrats of caring more about "scoring political points than solving people's problems" and assured the Convention that, in contrast, George W. Bush's political approach was to "attack problems, not opponents".
After Bradley had finished speaking, the Convention was treated to musical entertainment by the Rock band Regular Joe, led by Bradley's fellow Floridian- Congressman Joe Scarborough. There was now a video montage- similar to the one shown the previous evening- of George W. Bush in a variety of everyday and campaigning activities to a recorded version of the Isley Brothers' Shout!- it was not, however, the original version but one which sounded to me more like that done by Otis Day and the Knights, the performers of the tune in the movie Animal House. Then, after the in-house orchestra provided a musical interlude of the Beatles' Come Together, the assemblage was addressed by Christina Jones of Texas- president and co-founder of pcOrder, an e-commerce business- and Raul Fernandez of Virginia- CEO and founder of another tech company, Proxicom. Fernandez was followed by House Budget Chairman, retiring Congressman (and short-lived presidential contender) John Kasich of Ohio.
Kasich declared that the Republican Party was a political party that stressed "the rights and dignity of the individual. We believe that America should be run from the bottom up, not the top down". "First and foremost", he proclaimed, "we believe in tax cuts". He told the assemblage that he saw tax cuts as a moral issue because "any time we cut taxes, we make Government less important and people across this great country more important". He then recited a litany of taxes the GOP opposed, such as the Marriage Penalty and Estate Taxes, and- after he mentioned each one- assured the delegates (and, by extension, the Nation- assuming they were even paying the least bit of attention!) "we will end it". He described George W. Bush as someone who was "standing up to the Washington elite" [you mean the one running this very Convention?]; he then decried "the liberal elitists" [oh, THAT Washington elite... not the other one... sorry!] who "don't trust us to build our own retirement". I had to chuckle a bit as I heard the Ohio Congressman note that "it's the Internet and the new economy that have unleashed individual creativity and potential" and fairly wondered what Mr. Kasich might think of my own creative potential regarding that which has been posted on "The Green Papers" about this very Convention!
After Kasich had finished speaking, the Convention was entertained by Cuban-born singer Jon Secada who did two songs before co-Chair Bonilla introduced the next speaker, Rabbi Marvin Hier- founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles- whose remarks introduced a remote video feed of L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan speaking live from the Museum's Rotunda. This was followed by a musical interlude of the in-house band doing a version of Kenny Loggins' Footloose which was rather strangely interrupted by those in the Hall finally being shown the "Profiles in Compassion" video about the El Barrio Center for Training and Employment to which co-Chair Dunn had referred about an hour and 20 minutes before. After this video presentation had ended, it was now time for the third "round" of the "Rolling Roll Call", as Deputy Convention Permanent co-Chair J.C. Watts of Oklahoma called the Hall to order to begin the "round" which, as already planned, would put George W. Bush over the top and officially and formally name him the Republican nominee for President of the United States.
The wheels started coming off this third "round" right away, however. First, a little background: the evening before, the second "round" had been conducted by Convention Secretary Linda Shaw with Assistant Secretary Alfonso Jackson at her side (just as two Assistant Secretaries other than Jackson had been side by side the first night of this "Rolling Roll Call")- Shaw would call each delegation and its number of votes, after which Jackson was to repeat the vote as announced by the chairman of each respective delegation; Jackson had an annoying habit that evening (at least it was annoying to those of us trying to record the data for our own reports, such as my Commentaries) of repeating the number of votes but NOT for whom those votes had been cast (not that it much mattered, only 3 votes- 1 for Keyes, 1 for McCain and 1 abstention- went to anyone other than the Texas Governor during the second "round"). My own impression was that someone must have talked to Jackson about this after the Third Session had been completed last night.
This night, Jackson was the Assistant Secretary who would be first calling the delegations as Convention Secretary Shaw had done the evening before. Another Assistant Secretary- the fourth we had seen on stage in the course of this "Rolling Roll Call"- was to assist Jackson by repeating each delegation's vote as Jackson himself had- with rare exception- failed to do the night before. In what can only be described, in retrospect, as a grave tactical error, the Assistant Secretary who would be repeating the vote of each delegation was placed at the opposite side of the stage from Jackson: it soon became apparent that Jackson had difficulty, with all the Convention Hall din, in hearing her.
After the first State called this evening, North Dakota, had announced its vote, the Assistant Secretary required to repeat it did, in fact, do so- but Jackson obviously didn't hear her and asked her to repeat the vote of North Dakota. She, meanwhile, having repeated the vote, thought she was now being asked to repeat the vote of Ohio (it soon became clear that each State's vote was already known and already notated in a ledger book before her) and was stopped from doing so by assistants on the stage (to add to the confusion, the Ohio delegation cheered when they heard her mention their State's name, which added to the general noise level). Jackson kept asking for her to repeat a vote she had already repeated, even- in the confusion- asking her to repeat "South Dakota's vote". Finally, Jackson got a stage manager to pass along his request and the other Assistant Secretary, though bewildered, once again dutifully stated North Dakota's vote. This whole episode, however, had taken up more than a few minutes of the precious time set aside for the "Rolling Roll Call" this night: a fact which would have an effect on the end of this third "round" and which was yet another reminder of just how tightly scripted that- which was, on its surface, supposed to be the casting of votes by a duly elected political body- actually was. I found myself wondering if, say, the Reichstag of the mid-1930's had ever confronted these types of procedural difficulties: did the National People's Congress in China run into such problems when announcing its pre-determined votes on the floor of that body?
Ohio's Governor Bob Taft introduced a little girl from Dublin, Ohio who read that State's announcement: "Just as more and more of my fellow students are passing our reading and writing tests, the great State of Ohio tonight also passes." On this third "round", Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas joined Ohio in passing (I noted that, of course, Texas was the last State to pass and would, therefore, be the last State to be called the following evening- allowing it to be the State to make its Governor's nomination unanimous).
Tennessee's Governor Don Sundquist, announcing his State's vote, noted that his State was "the home of Al Gore"- which, predictably, elicited "boo"s- and that "we look forward to his return to Tennessee as a private citizen in January 2001"- this, of course, elicited cheers.
Utah's announcement was rather more long-winded than usual (the "repeating" Assistant Secretary even jumped the gun and announced Utah's vote before it had even been formally given) and this, combined with the time-wasting at the very start of the third "round", had Assistant Secretary Jackson trying to speed things up greatly after the announcement of Virginia. To the Virgin Islands, Washington and Wisconsin, he was heard urging them- right in the middle of their announcements- "will you please cast your vote". This, in some cases, only served to confuse the "repeating" Assistant Secretary who jumped the gun again in her announcing the votes of some of these later delegations.
But when Wyoming- which, as Dick Cheney's home state, was going to be given the honor of putting Governor Bush over the top and, thus, officially nominate him as the Republican candidate for President- was called to cast its vote, it was not going to be deterred by Jackson's pleas for it to hurry things up. After noting that "we know that Wyoming is the smallest in population of all 50 States but, just as with American Samoa, no voter should be left behind", it was said that "Bill Clinton has never visited Nebraska: well, Al Gore has never visited Wyoming" and that, with the State having only 3 electoral votes, the choice of Dick Cheney as Vice Presidential nominee was "not politically correct, but it was leadership correct". When Assistant Secretary Jackson urged him to hurry up his announcement as he had with the previous few delegations, the chairman of the delegation replied: "I'm getting to that, Mr. Secretary, I'm getting to that". When prompted again by Jackson as his announcement droned on, he responded: "I'm not from Wisconsin, but I'll milk this for all I can get!" (a reference to Wisconsin- which had voted just prior to Wyoming- being a premier dairy State).
After what seemed like an eternity, during which the Wyoming chairman- noting that Philadelphia had been the place where a document had been adopted which "provoked King George the Third"- stated that the Election on 7 November would "provoke King William and Prince Albert", the Equality State finally cast all its 22 votes for George W. Bush, putting the Texan 8 votes over the magic number of 1,034 and, thus, formally nominating him for President at just after 10 P.M. EDT, Wednesday 2 August (0200 UTC, 3 August) 2000. The confetti then rained down and the Convention Hall erupted into several minutes of wild celebration to a Latin tune provided by the in-house orchestra.
Convention co-Chair J.C. Watts abruptly broke off the celebration when he strode up to the dais and formally suspended the Roll Call of the States, then made the rather anticlimactic announcement that "George W. Bush has received more than the 1,034 votes required to secure the nomination of the Republican Party". Watts further noted that those States which had passed on the first run-through these last three evenings would get their chance to vote- now that George W. Bush had been officially nominated by the Party- the following evening, when this strange "Rolling Roll Call" would be completed once and for all.
The results of this third "round" of the "Rolling Roll Call" were as follows:
There was a touching interlude when Wendy Smith of Texas, a young woman with Down Syndrome, was introduced by co-Chair Henry Bonilla of Texas (who now took over for Congressman Watts, who would be sitting with former President and Barbara Bush in the galleries during Dick Cheney's acceptance speech) and stepped up to the dais to read a letter she had earlier written Governor Bush urging him to run for President. After she had finished, Bonilla handed her a handwritten note from the GOP Presidential nominee himself on "Governor of Texas" stationery.
Now we were to be treated to yet another breach of National Convention tradition: the Vice Presidential nominee giving his Acceptance Speech an entire evening before the Presidential nominee would be giving his! Temporary Chairman Trent Lott returned to the dais and proclaimed, sounding every bit like a country preacher whipping up an evangelical revival: "What an exciting night!- we just nominated the next Vice President of the United States!!". It struck me that, clearly, this utterance by the Mississippi Senator was not an impromptu one- that his words were simply those rolling before him on the teleprompter: for it was obvious that, had the original schedule for the evening been adhered to, the nomination of Dick Cheney would have only just occurred and that these words would have been more appropriate to that event. In fact, the Convention had- a little less than 15 minutes earlier- nominated the person who, to the assemblage, would be the next PRESIDENT of the United States! The delegates, who- in all likelihood- hadn't noticed the difference anyway, cheered loudly anyway but it was yet even more evidence as to just how scripted these National Conventions had become, leaving the politicians at the podium to be- at best- merely actors in a curious stage revue or- at worst- robots or even pawns!!
Senator Lott then recounted all the taxes Al Gore had supported as either a Representative, Senator or Vice President, including taxes on senior citizens' retirement income, higher gas taxes and the Retroactive Estate Tax which, Lott reminded the delegates, Gore had once called the best vote he had ever cast. The delegates roundly booed each of Gore's "sin"s. Lott then asked if those in attendance wanted to end the Marriage Penalty, Estate Taxes (which the GOP had been consistently labeling "the Death Tax") and what Lott called "the 100-year-old Spanish-American telephone tax": naturally, those in attendance in the Convention Hall cheerily asserted "Yes!" after each of these. This litany completed, Lott next turned to the business of introducing Lynne Cheney, the wife of the new Republican Vice-Presidential nominee.
Mrs. Cheney gave a short speech, pretty much in the mold of that Laura Bush had given two nights before, which was intended to paint a picture of Dick Cheney the man. I personally don't think it was nearly as effective a vehicle for her husband as that the Texas First Lady had given about hers, but I reminded myself that the Convention would soon enough see the Vice-Presidential nominee himself- live in person, not by remote video feed- and, to be fair to Mrs. Cheney, it was Dick Cheney's job to define himself and his place on the 2000 Republican national ticket in his own ensuing speech. We DID learn such factoids as how the former Defense Secretary learned- from his grandfather, who was a railroad cook- that "cooking is an honorable male occupation" and that "one of the keys to understanding Dick Cheney is to understand fly fishing". Mrs. Cheney noted that "conversations with Dick Cheney have a way of taking unexpected turns; problems are redefined and you find yourself thinking about things in new ways". Then it was time for her to introduce her husband to those in the Hall.
The very recently nominated GOP running mate therupon strode to the dais, where he was greeted by his wife to the strains of the in-house orchestra playing an instrumental version of Lee Greenwood's God Bless the USA, which has- in recent years- pretty much become a Republican theme song. After his wife had stepped off stage, the former Defense Secretary turned to speak to the Convention. During his entire speech, his expression ranged from a firmly set jaw when he spoke of the serious to a wry grin when he scored the Democrats in general and Bill Clinton and Al Gore in particular on a number of points: as I watched him speak, I gained the distinct impression that, although a little less than two weeks earlier he had had no idea he would be giving this very speech, he clearly relished the opportunity to do so and would- in fact (despite my own doubts as expressed in a Commentary I had written only eight days earlier regarding Governor Bush's choice of him as his running mate)- be a formidable opponent if he WERE, indeed, forced to go into that "attack dog/pit bull" mode of campaigning often left to the running mate in a tight General Election contest in the Fall.
He spoke in the same "measured manner" and "curious quietude" I had noted in Senator McCain the night before, though his voice was more stentorian: it was a combination that might very well make Mr. Cheney a good complement to Governor Bush, whose speaking patterns tend to be quite different. Although, as of this writing, we do not yet know who will be Vice President Gore's choice as his running mate, I had the feeling that Cheney would be an opponent with which to be reckoned in the inevitable (albeit silly) Vice Presidential Debate we would, almost certainly, have to put up with in the course of this campaign.
"I am honored by your nomination", the former Defense Secretary told the assemblage- using a traditional format for acknowledging a nomination that the Convention did not, in fact, make but merely "rubber-stamped"- "and I accept it". He then asked that the Convention join him in wishing former President Ford a speedy recovery, adding "I wouldn't be here tonight if it wasn't for him and the trust and confidence he placed in me twenty five years ago".
"We are going to win this election. We will prevail", Cheney assured the Party faithful cheering heartily in the midst of this statement. "I never expected to be in this position", he added. "I did not plan to return to Public Office... but now I am glad to be back in the arena and I want to tell you why". The Vice-Presidential nominee then went on to recall how he had worked in or with three Republican Administrations: as Chief of Staff to Gerald Ford, a Congressman during the Presidency of Ronald Reagan and as Secretary of Defense for the Presidential nominee's father; he opined that it allowed him to see "how character and decency can dignify a great Office" [in the case of Ford] and "how one man's Will can set a Nation on a new course" [as regards Reagan]: he then noted that "I am not the only man on this ticket who has learned from the example of George Bush [meaning, of course, the former President]".
"I have been in the company of leaders", Cheney noted. "I know what it takes". He told the delegates that "big changes are coming to Washington"- adding that "to serve with this man [Texas Governor Bush] in this cause is a chance I would not miss". Of the ticket of which he was now a part, he proclaimed that "we can restore the ideals of honesty and honor that must be a part of our national life if our children are to thrive." He then went on to say that "when I look at the Administration in Washington, I am dismayed by the opportunities squandered, saddened by what might have been but never was. These have been times of Prosperity in our Land but little Purpose in the White House."
Quoting President Clinton's words spoken in the heat of the Impeachment crisis two years earlier, Cheney noted that "Bill Clinton vowed, not too long ago, to hold onto power until the last hour of the last day. That is his right. But, my friends, that last hour is coming" to which the Convention cheered wildly before the Vice Presidential nominee added, "that last day is near, the wheel has turned and it is time"- then quoting the very words Al Gore himself had used against the Administration of which Cheney himself had been a part at the Democratic National Convention eight years earlier- "it is time for them to go!" which had the assemblage cheering wildly, chanting a rhythmic "Go- Go-Go-Go!" gaining in rapidity before pockets of delegates next began chanting either "It's TIME for THEM to GO!" or "TIME...TO... GO!" After this din had subsided, Cheney told the Convention- as regards Presidential nominee Bush- "On the first hour of the first day, he will return decency and integrity to the Oval Office", a statement which engendered even more wild cheering.
"I know he will do these things", Cheney assured the delegates, "because, for the last five years, I have seen him do them in Texas". He offered his thoughts that George W. Bush "leads by conviction, not calculation. You will never see him pointing the finger of blame for failure, you will only see him sharing the credit for success: that is exactly the spirit that is missing from Washington today. In the last eight years, that city has often become a scene of bitterness, ill will and partisan strife", though here the Vice Presidential nominee conveniently forgot- or, more than likely, conveniently left unsaid for purposes of political expediency- the fact that those who came to dominate his own Party once they had taken control of Congress 5 1/2 years earlier (many of whom were almost certainly in that very Convention Hall, many of whom had also aided and abetted the "Affirmative Action for lobbyists" Colin Powell had decried from the same podium two nights earlier, all of them now listening to their Party's newest Vice Presidential candidate) had contributed more than their fair share to the noxious political atmosphere that Cheney here sternly decried. After all, "it takes two"!
Cheney went on to describe the Nation's Capital as a place where "Politics has become War by other means- an endless onslaught of accusations, a constant setting of groups one against another." He noted that "this is what Bill Bradley was up against, and others before him"- then he quoted what Bradley had said about Al Gore's primary campaign, that it was "a thousand promises, a thousand attacks" before opining that "we're all a little tired of the Clinton/Gore routine". The former Defense Secretary proclaimed that "in this Election, they will speak endlessly of risk- we will speak of progress; they will make accusations- we will make proposals; they will feed fear and we will appeal to hope; they will offer more lectures and more legalisms and carefully worded denials- we offer another way, a better way and a stiff dose of Truth."
The Vice Presidential nominee then went on to score the Clinton Administration on a number of issues which clearly would be at the core of the Fall Bush/Cheney campaign. "For all their sentimental talk about children, Clinton and Gore have done nothing to help children oppressed by bureaucracy, monopoly and mediocrity", Cheney claimed- before noting that were Governor Bush and himself to be elected, "no child will be left behind", neatly echoing the theme of the first night of the Convention. "George W. Bush and I, with a united Congress, will save Social Security", he later proclaimed and, even later, scored the Clinton Administration as one which had "extended our military commitments while depleting our military power... George W. Bush and I are going to change that, too!". Of those serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, he said, "I can promise them now: Help is on the way!" which caused the Convention Hall to break out into chants of "HELP is ON the WAY!" and "SEND...THEM... HOME!" "Soon", the former Defense Secretary went on, "our men and women in uniform will once again have a Commander-in-Chief they can respect, a Commander-in-Chief who understands their mission and restores their morale."
"And so, as the man from Hope goes home to... ah... New York", Cheney said with a wry smile (yet another reference to First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate candidacy in the Empire State), "Mr. Gore will try to separate himself from his leader's shadow but, somehow, we will never see one without thinking of the other" before adding that "they came in together- now let us see them off together." Now many of the assembled delegates broke into an impromptu rendition of Steam's 1969 hit Na-Na-Hey-Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye. Chants of "NO...MORE... GORE!" and "SEND...HIM...HOME!" (complete with the delegates gesturing a baseball umpire's "Out" call) were heard throughout the Convention Hall.
"This campaign won't be easy", Cheney warned the assemblage, "George Bush and I face a real fight"; however, he assured the Party faithful that "we're ready for it. We know the territory, we know the opposition and we know what's at stake. We will give all we have to this cause and, in the end- with your help, George W. Bush will defeat this Vice President and I will replace him".
As he came to the end of his acceptance speech, the Vice Presidential nominee noted that "this is a great country... and it deserves great leadership. Let us go forth from this Hall in confidence and in courage, committed to bringing Decency and Honor to our Republic. Let us go forth knowing our Cause is just." He closed by urging that George W. Bush be elected the 43rd President of the United States after which the in-house band broke into a version of Kool & the Gang's Celebrate: confetti rained down onto the stage as Dick Cheney, once again joined by his wife Lynne, waved to those in attendance in what seemed to me an odd foreshadowing of what surely would be the climax of the Convention the following night in the moments after Governor Bush will have finished his acceptance speech.
Presently, out came Lee Greenwood himself to sing a vocal
version of his God Bless the USA with the Vice-Presidential
nominee and his wife looking on from the doorway off to the side of
the stage. Co-Chair J.C. Watts then came out to call for the benediction by His
Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, who
also is the chairman of the Conference of Orthodox Bishops. In the course
of this final blessing, His Eminence included a supplication on behalf of
the ailing former President Ford. Soon enough thereafter, the Fourth Session of
the 37th Republican National Convention was gaveled to a close, leaving just one
more evening of this gathering- a night devoted solely to Governor George W.
Bush of Texas.