Thursday, September 02, 2004

Something About Cheney

Cheney's speech interested me by its omissions, not of substance but of sub-stratum.

I typically think of him as the representative of all that I really dislike about the GOP. My inclination to vote for Bush is done with gritted teeth over all the corporate shilling, the environmental damage, the social conservatism, the assertive religiosity, the bungled economics, the unnecessary diplomatic rudeness, the unnecessary Karl Roveness, the knee-jerk anti-science, gay-bashing, and so forth.

I'm a one issue voter: two, if you separate the war against Islamist terror from the liberation and rebuilding of Iraq (and I don't separate them).

Yet Cheney's speech artfully steered away from any of those topics that figure in the Republican platform this year, but not in the GOP of Schwarzenegger, Giuliani, Miller (if he was GOP), or McCain.

The quality I most missed was religion. Cheney never mentioned God. (Edwards did, once, at the end). Living in Lancaster County, I'm intimate with the nuances of evangelistic argot, so I noticed the lack of the usual tags in the places they should have been.

Talking about his family, Cheney said, "We now have a grandson to go along with our three wonderful granddaughters, and the deepest wish of my heart and the object of all my determination is that they, and all of America's children, will have lives filled with opportunity."

And I noticed the plain verb "have" in place of the expected "have been blessed with," and I noted the "deepest wish" in place of "deepest prayer." Cheney invoked a historian (not Scripture, as Clinton was wont to do), who "once wrote that when America was created, the stars must have danced in the sky. Our president understands the miracle of this great country."

"Created" and "miracle," yes, that's about as close as it comes. But it was stars, not angels, dancing in the sky that night. Oh, I don't think it's a sea-change. The platform remains the same. But by omitting what he did, he allowed me to concentrate on the rest of what he said.