They Know What They're Doing
As a partisan (meaning one who picks a team and roots for it; I'm just as partisan about the St. Louis Cardinals), ol' Zell tickled the fire out of me. I thoroughly enjoyed that speech. I thought that Zell Miller personified something that has largely gone out of style: the Southern gentleman orator. (It really has gone out of style, as the Republican crowd didn't know how to handle the rhythmns of the speech and kept busting the crescendos with ill-timed applause. I appreciate the enthusiasm, but you have to let a speech like Zell's just roll over you, and that takes training.)
Okay, as a Republican I had fun. What's the impact? Zell's immediate impact, I think, is going to be neglible as it's filtered through a scandalized (Northeastern ) media and puts a significant number of moderate Democrats and independents off their game. It'll just be too red hot for them in the immediate aftermath, which is why it was a stroke of brilliance to close with a sober, sedate Dick Cheney.
But Zell's going to have a profound mid- to long-range impact (defining mid-range as two to eight weeks.) First, he has just cleared the path for lifelong Democrats who've swallowed a lot of idiocy for years to jump ship this election. The sheer passion and righteous rage of the man will stay with people. What could have happened to get this man so fired up, they will think, and slowly begin counting all the slings and arrows they themselves have borne over the years to remain loyal to their party. Zell Miller breaks down those self-identification institutional barriers that would keep some from voting for the president because of the (R) after his name, and it'll happen before election day.
This will only be accelerated if the Democrats react stupidly, which I fully expect. If they attack Miller and keep his story alive, they'll look mean and petty and vicious. If they think that the "Zellout" gambit is going to win them any admirers...well, they deserve the reaction they get. (What kind of geniuses tell a man who claims his party has abandoned him that they want to kick him out?) Again, it highlights the complaints Zell has against the rampant liberalism of his party (the same fatal flaws the Democrats tried so desperately to hide in their convention), and it gives all those who identify with Miller permission to kick the dust off their heels and leave the party. (This is all part of the coming Great Realignment, about which I'll post sometime soon.)
Finally, Dick Cheney's methodical presentation again undercuts the image of a raving Halliburton stooge, but the juxtaposition with Miller presents a trap for partisan Democrats (especially Terry McAuliffe, whom I expect will jump feet-first into the trap.) What will likely happen is that the Democratic partisans will attack both Miller and Cheney with equal fervor. To an independent observer, it will seem bizarre that such radically different presentations receive the same level of passion and vitriol. It will make it quite clear to that observer that one side has to be living in the fever swamp, and it won't be hard to guess who that is.
Like I said before, this is brilliant.
UPDATE: Just reloaded the Kerry Spot after posting this to find that the Democrats are already calling Zell "rabid" and "Zig Zag Zell." It's almost worrisome to be proven right this fast.