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 V.13 No.37 | September 9 - 15, 2004 

Payne's World

Straight out of Zell

Dems panic as the RNC takes Manhattan

As the Bush campaign gathered steam and began setting the election agenda at its New York City convention, John Kerry was literally floundering around at a photo op. There's seems to be some macho "Xtreme" sports thing the 60-year-old Democrat nominee has in his system. Snowboarding into Secret Service agents was the first hint the public got of it. Riding a Harley onto the stage of Jay Leno's show was another.

In this case, the Democrat nominee gathered reporters at the shorefront of his Nantuckett beach house to demonstrate his windsurfing prowess. Only problem? There wasn't any wind to windsurf in.

Anyone watching the news clip of the press event saw a lanky man in a wetsuit doing his best to stay afloat in conditions that weren't meant for the activity. After struggling around in the tides trying to keep his sail up and stay onboard, Kerry hung it up, not knowing he'd just provided a beautiful visual metaphor for his presidential campaign: There's no wind in those sails either.

Of course with 50 some odd days before election day on Nov. 2, anything can happen. But Kerry was eaten alive on the one issue he hung his candidacy: his record of service in Vietnam. Worse, Republicans (with the help of their newest attack dog, Georgia Democrat Zell Miller) are now defining Kerry's record as a U.S. senator—on their terms, of course.

It's not time for full-blown panic by Democrats, but it's getting close. Given the current political trends and momentum, George W. Bush will be re-elected president. And if there aren't too many ballot boxes being "discovered" around the state after the votes have been counted on Election Day, Bush's chances of winning New Mexico are rapidly improving as well.

Yes Virginia, it looks like there is such a thing as "strategery" after all.

Well, Maybe it is Time for Full-blown Panic

Apparently the Republicans did just about everything they needed to at the NYC convention. The Aug. 12-18 edition of "Payne's World" predicted a post-convention bounce for the elephants approaching the double-digits but was a little off.

It actually was a double-digit bounce.

In a TIME magazine poll conducted Aug. 31 to Sept. 2, the neck and neck race of the past few months has given way to a commanding Bush lead. Fifty-two percent of likely voters surveyed would vote for President Bush, 41 percent would vote for Sen. John Kerry and 3 percent would vote for Ralph Nader.

Two weeks ago the conventional wisdom said the presidential election was Kerry's to lose. The new conventional wisdom? Mission accomplished!

It's Miller Time (or Straight Out of Zell)

With the exception of the Bush twins (but more on that later) there really wasn't a bad speech for the RNC in NYC. Everyone was on message and the convention's execution went off with the precision of a surgical air strike.

Despite his reputation on the left for being a tongue-tied dummy, the president gave a strong speech and did something Kerry might not actually have the ability to do—connect on an emotional level with voters. Arnold Schwarzenegger is without question the most upbeat, optimistic man in America (take that, Tony Robbins!) and Rudy Giuliani should still be the mayor of New York City, or a U.S senator from them parts.

But the guy who stole the show, even if it was in a much different manner than Barak Obama stole the show in Boston, was U.S. Sen. Zell Miller. I don't know if Zell was mainlining Viagra prior to his performance, but there's a 72-year-old with a lot of piss and vinegar left in him.

Miller, who will retire this year after serving less than a full Senate term, delivered by far the most effective attack on John Kerry, his colleague and fellow Democrat. Not only that, he made it clear to “Hardball”'s Chris Matthews in no uncertain terms that he was willing to get right back in Matthews' face and "challenge him to a duel."

Miller isn't running for re-election, is heading into the final laps of his life and, apparently, isn't planning on going gently. Rage against the dying of the light, Zell Miller. Spit balls or no, you are one kick ass Marine!

Good Thing They Hadn't Heard of The Vagina Monologues ...

God bless 'em, because they do seem like genuinely nice 20-somethings, but whoever wrote the convention script for Jenna and Barbara Bush needs a weekend's lockup at Abu Ghraib. Of course they love their dad and want to help out on his campaign, but references to “shaking it like a Polaroid picture” sounded like cracker talk. And putting 76-year-old Grandma Bush on the spot in front of a national audience over her understanding of "Sex and the City"? Where was Karl Rove on that one?

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author. Payne, a former city councilor, can be reached at greg@alibi.com.

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