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Dream Speech?

Reported by Judy - August 31, 2004 -

The pundits on the Public Broadcasting System loved Arnold Schwarzennegger's speech to the GOP convention tonight (August 31), lavishing praise on what was really nothing more than a pile of platitudes.

Liberal commentator Mark Shields called it a "brilliant speech." David Brooks, conservative columnist for the New York Times, compared it to Barak Obama's speech to the Democratic National Convention. Besides the two political pundits, PBS also employed three historians to comment on the convention: Michael Beschloss, Meena Bose, and Richard Norton Smith. Smith, who spoke earlier in the rotation, beat Brooks to the punch as far as comparing Schwarzennegger to Obama.

Schwarzennegger said he came to the U.S. in 1968 "with empty pockets but full of dreams" and became a Republican after hearing Richard Nixon speak. (Boy, does that speak volumes about the guy who once said he admired Hitler.) Schwarzennegger used the words "dream" or "dreams" over and over, speaking of "an immigrant's dream," "the American dream" and allowing the listener to fill those phrases with any meaning he or she chose.

Among the many platitudes Schwarzennegger dragged out were, "Everything I have ... I owe to America," "America brings out the best in people," "America is back" (I didn't know it was missing), and "George Bush has worked hard to preserve the American dream for all of us." This is where I would have noted how many jobs George has produced while president, but Bush hasn't produced any so Schwarzennegger couldn't do that.

Schwarzennegger also compared Bush's so-called war against terror to the Cold War and added that "he knows you don't reason with terrorists, you defeat them." (Note to Arnold: George says we can't win.)

Some of what Schwarzennegger said simply wasn't true, as when he told immigrants from Guatemala, the Philipines, and the Ivory Coast that Americans will welcome them. He knows full well that his own state of California complains constantly about the burden immigrants place on its welfare and education system and that white immigrants from Europe have long been more acceptable to citizens here than immigrants of color.

His biggest falsehood, though, was when Schwarzennger praised Bush for deciding to invade Iraq "even when the polls said just the opposite." The line got a big ovation, but it is wrong. The Pew Research poll found 56 percent of Americans supported the war in Iraq in February 2003, a month before it began.

What was interesting about the PBS coverage was its low-key approach compared to Fox. There was no shouting, no one talking over another person, everbody got a chance to talk. The pundits talked about the convention that was going on before them, rather than twisting everything to show that Kerry is evil. It was relaxing because I didn't have to focus on the speech, the crawler under the screen, and a graphic. Unfortunately, the speeches were the same ones on the other channels.