Senator Zel Miller's speech at last night's Republican convention was truly astonishing. A Democrat disgusted with the ideology of the leadership of his party, he has come out in full support of President Bush. He delivered a blistering keynote address at the convention and scalded the Democrat leadership in general, and Senator Kerry in particular with heavy doses of white-hot political rhetoric . How much damage he did to Kerry is impossible to tell at this point, although I suspect that it was not insignificant. Perhaps a more pressing question is how much damage the Georgia senator did to himself. His career in the Senate is coming to a close because he's retiring so his political future is not at issue, but he doubtless made some very serious personal enemies tonight. Maybe the Senator should stay away from Fort Marcey Park for a while.
If you watched the MSNBC Hardball segment after Vice-president Cheney's speech you received a rare treat. Chris Matthews had Senator Miller on and was peppering him with questions about his extraordinary speech earlier in the evening. As he often does with guests, Matthews would ask Miller a question and then interrupt him as he tried to answer. Miller finally got visibly angry with this rudeness and told Matthews that he didn't know why he was submitting to the interview. He also informed the startled host that he wouldn't be bullied like the "young lady" (Michelle Malkin) Matthews had on last week whom he also wouldn't allow speak. Then in frustration the fiery ex-Marine proclaimed that he wished he was in the studio with Matthews and that these were the old days so that he could face him in a duel!
It's not clear that Matthews understood what Miller was saying, but he could tell that Miller was angry with him and he grew considerably more subdued and deferential. He realized that Miller wasn't going to be pushed around like many of his other guests. It's one thing, after all, to browbeat demure young women, it's something else to take on a crusty ex-Marine from Georgia. It was surely one of the most fascinating and entertaining exchanges in the history of cable news television.
The last duel fought by a major political figure was, I think, fought by Andrew Jackson. Maybe Viewpoint should start a movement to get Zell Miller's face on the $20 bill.
Speaking of Hardball and shows like it, one gets the feeling watching and listening to the pundits who tend to lean toward Kerry that a certain fatalism is setting in. It's as if they know in their hearts that they have a deeply flawed candidate and they realize that his flaws will only receive increasing exposure as the campaign wears on. There was not much of a rebuttal to Miller's vigorous criticism of Kerry tonight, as if even the Kerry troopers in the media knew that Miller's indictment was too obviously true. Matthews tried to discredit some of Miller's allegations until he got all but challenged to a fight, much to the delight of the panelists in the studio, but the other lefties on cable had little to say by way of substantive criticism of Miller's performance.
We don't want to make too much of this, but it does seem as if some of these pundits are perhaps beginning to show signs of resigning themselves to four more years of a Bush presidency.