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RNC lineup: Open thread; Update: President Bush mocks “the angry left;” Fred on Sarah: “Breath of fresh air;” Liebs addresses his “dear friends”

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By Michelle Malkin  •  September 2, 2008 06:08 PM

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President Bush will address the RNC tonight by satellite.

Also on tap in prime time slots:

First Lady Laura Bush.

Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson.

And Democrat Sen. Joe Lieberman.

FWIW, here’s what GOP insiders are saying about the post-Gustav convention shake-up.

With the base energized, let’s hope Fred Thompson brings on the heat and some no-bull, red-meat inspiration. He’s got a golden opportunity to capture the conservative zeitgeist.

Get your popcorn ready.

***

PJTV is livestreaming.

The Corner has a few advance Fred excerpts.

Via Allah, here’s the official Palin intro video, drawing on her VP announcement speech.

John Hawkins at Right Wing News reports on getting blackballed at the convention.

Pamela at Atlas Shrugged reports on the nomadic search for somewhere to sit and work.

Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey will have video of the day’s events.

Have you seen this photo of anarchists welcoming a Republican to the Twin Cities? Peace and love, dude.

Founding Bloggers has lots of clips from the scene.

And my friends at UStream have wall-to-wall live coverage that you can embed.

***

9:35pm Eastern…Tune in if you can. There’s an amazing video tribute to Medal of Honor recipient and Iraq war hero Michael Monsoor.

9:54pm Eastern. First Lady Laura Bush delivers a nice intro of the President, speaking now from the White House. Bush gets off a good line about how how if McCain’s tormentors in Vietnam didn’t break his spirit, “the Angry Left never will.”

Advance excerpts…

On Senator McCain Being Prepared To Make the Hard Decisions That Fall Solely to the President:

John McCain’s life has prepared him to make those choices. He is ready to lead this Nation.

We live in a dangerous world. And we need a President who understands the lessons of September 11, 2001: that to protect America, we must stay on the offense, stop attacks before they happen, and not wait to be hit again. The man we need is John McCain.

On Senator McCain’s Courage and Vision:

John McCain’s life is a story of service above self.

John is an independent man who thinks for himself. He’s not afraid to tell you when he disagrees. … No matter what the issue, this man is honest and speaks straight from the heart.

Last year, John McCain’s independence and character helped change history. The Democrats had taken control of Congress and were threatening to cut off funds for our troops. In the face of calls for retreat, I ordered a surge of forces into Iraq. Many in Congress said it had no chance of working. Yet one Senator above all had faith in our troops and the importance of their mission – and that was John McCain. Some told him that his early and consistent call for more troops would put his Presidential campaign at risk. He told them he would rather lose an election than see his country lose a war. That is the kind of courage and vision we need in our next Commander-in-Chief.

On Americans Choosing the McCain-Palin Ticket:

I am optimistic about our future, because I believe in the goodness and wisdom of the American people. I am optimistic because I have faith in freedom’s power to lift up all of God’s children and lead this world to a future of peace.

And I am optimistic about something else: When the debates have ended, and all the ads have run, and it is time to vote, Americans will look closely at the judgment, the experience, and the policies of the candidates – and they will cast their ballots for the McCain-Palin ticket.

10:09pm Eastern…Fred Thompson takes the stage.

Prepared remarks…

Tonight our thoughts are still with our friends and fellow citizens in the Gulf Coast area, and our thanks go to those who have worked so hard to keep them safe. There can be no more important work than this.

But what we are doing at this convention is also important to our country.

We are going to nominate the next President and Vice President of the United States of America.

We do so while taking a different view of our country than that of the other party.

Listening to them you’d think that we were in the middle of a great depression; that we are down, disrespected and incapable of prevailing against challenges facing us.

We know that we have challenges … always have, always will.

But we also know that we live in the freest, strongest, most generous and prosperous nation in the history of the world and we are thankful.

Speaking of the vice presidential nominee, what a breath of fresh air Governor Sarah Palin is.

She is from a small town, with small town values, but that’s not good enough for those folks who are attacking her and her family.

Some Washington pundits and media big shots are in a frenzy over the selection of a woman who has actually governed rather than just talked a good game on the Sunday talk shows and hit the Washington cocktail circuit. Well, give me a tough Alaskan Governor who has taken on the political establishment in the largest state in the Union — and won — over the beltway business-as-usual crowd any day of the week.

Let’s be clear … the selection of Governor Palin has the other side and their friends in the media in a state of panic. She is a courageous, successful, reformer, who is not afraid to take on the establishment.

Sound like anyone else we know?

She has run a municipality and she has run a state.

And I can say without fear of contradiction that she is the only nominee in the history of either party who knows how to properly field dress a moose … with the possible exception of Teddy Roosevelt.

She and John McCain are not going to care how much the alligators get irritated when they get to Washington, they’re going to drain that swamp.

But tonight, I’d like to talk to you about the remarkable story of John McCain.

It’s a story about character.

John McCain’s character has been tested like no other presidential candidate in the history of this nation.

He comes from a military family whose service to our country goes back to the Revolutionary War.

The tradition continues.

As I speak, John and Cindy McCain have one son who’s just finished his first tour in Iraq.

Another son is putting “Country First” and is attending the Naval Academy. We have a number of McCains in the audience tonight.

Also here tonight is John’s 96-year-old mother, Roberta. All I’ve got to say is that if Roberta McCain had been the McCain captured by the North Vietnamese, they would have surrendered.

Now, John’s father was a bit of a rebel, too.

In his first two semesters at the Naval Academy, he managed to earn 333 demerits.

Unfortunately, John later saw that as a record to be beaten.

A rebellious mother and a rebellious father – I guess you can see where this is going.

In high school and the Naval Academy, he earned a reputation as a troublemaker.

But as John points out, he wasn’t just a troublemaker. He was the leader of the troublemakers.

Although loaded with demerits like his father, John was principled even in rebellion.

He never violated the honor code.

However, in flight school in Pensacola, he did drive a Corvette and date a girl who worked in a bar as an exotic dancer under the name of Marie, the Flame of Florida.

And the reason I’m telling you these things, is that, apparently, this mixture of rebellion and honor helped John McCain survive the next chapter of his life:

John McCain was preparing to take off from the USS Forrestal for his sixth mission over Vietnam, when a missile from another plane accidentally fired and hit his plane.

The flight deck burst into a fireball of jet fuel.

John’s flight suit caught fire.

He was hit by shrapnel.

It was a scene of horrible human devastation.

Men sacrificed their lives to save others that day. One kid, who John couldn’t identify because he was burned beyond recognition, called out to John to ask if a certain pilot was OK.

John replied that, yes, he was.

The young sailor said, “Thank God”… and then he died.

These are the kind of men John McCain served with.

These are the men and women John McCain knows and understands and loves.

If you want to know who John McCain is, if you want to know what John McCain values, look to the men and women who wear America’s uniform today.

The fire on the Forrestal burned for two days.

20 planes were destroyed.

134 sailors died.

John himself barely dodged death in the inferno and could’ve returned to the States with his ship.

Instead, he volunteered for combat on another carrier that was undermanned from losing so many pilots.

Stepping up.

Putting his “Country First.”

Three months later John McCain was a Prisoner of War.

On October 26, 1967, on his 23rd mission over North Vietnam, a surface-to-air missile slammed into John’s A-4 Skyhawk jet, blowing it out of the sky.

When John ejected, part of the plane hit him — breaking his right knee, his left arm, his right arm in three places.

An angry mob got to him.

A rifle butt broke his shoulder.

A bayonet pierced his ankle and his groin.

They took him to the Hanoi Hilton, where he lapsed in and out of consciousness for days. He was offered medical care for his injuries if he would give up military information in return.

John McCain said “No”.

After days of neglect, covered in grime, lying in his own waste in a filthy room, a doctor attempted to set John’s right arm without success … and without anesthesia.

His other broken bones and injuries were not treated. John developed a high fever, dysentery. He weighed barely a hundred pounds.

Expecting him to die, his captors placed him in a cell with two other POWs who also expected him to die.

But with their help, John McCain fought on.

He persevered.

So then they put him in solitary confinement…for over two years.

Isolation … incredible heat beating on a tin roof. A light bulb in his cell burning 24 hours a day.

Boarded-up cell windows blocking any breath of fresh air.

The oppressive heat causing boils the size of baseballs under his arms.

The outside world limited to what he could see through a crack in a door.

We hear a lot of talk about hope.

John McCain knows about hope. That’s all he had to survive on. For propaganda purposes, his captors offered to let him go home.

John McCain refused.

He refused to leave ahead of men who’d been there longer.

He refused to abandon his conscience and his honor, even for his freedom.

He refused, even though his captors warned him, “It will be very bad for you.”

They were right.

It was.

The guards cracked ribs, broke teeth off at the gums. They cinched a rope around his arms and painfully drew his shoulders back.

Over four days, every two to three hours, the beatings resumed. During one especially fierce beating, he fell, again breaking his arm.

John was beaten for communicating with other prisoners.

He was beaten for NOT communicating with so-called “peace delegations.”

He was beaten for not giving information during interrogations.

When his captors wanted the names of other pilots in his squadron, John gave them the names of the offensive line of the Green Bay Packers.

Whenever John was returned to his cell — walking if he could, dragged if he couldn’t — as he passed his fellow POWs, he would call out to them.

He’d smile … and give them a thumbs-up.

For five-and-a-half years this went on.

John McCain’s bones may have been broken but his spirit never was.

Now, being a POW certainly doesn’t qualify anyone to be President.

But it does reveal character.

This is the kind of character that civilizations from the beginning of history have sought in their leaders.

Strength.

Courage.

Humility.

Wisdom.

Duty.

Honor.

It’s pretty clear there are two questions we will never have to ask ourselves, “Who is this man?” and “Can we trust this man with the Presidency?”

He has been to Iraq eight times since 2003.

He went seeking truth, not publicity.

When he travels abroad, he prefers quietly speaking to the troops amidst the heat and hardship of their daily lives.

And the same character that marked John McCain’s military career has also marked his political career.

This man, John McCain is not intimidated by what the polls say or by what is politically safe or popular.

At a point when the war in Iraq was going badly and the public lost confidence, John stood up and called for more troops.

And now we are winning.

Ronald Reagan was John McCain’s hero.

And President Reagan admired John tremendously.

But when the President proposed putting U.S. troops in Beirut, John McCain, a freshman Congressman, stood up and cast a vote against his hero because he thought the deployment was a mistake.

My friends … that is character you can believe in.

For years, members of Congress, Republican and Democrat alike, have gouged the taxpayer with secret earmark spending.

Well, he has never sought an earmark.

I’ve experienced John’s character first hand.

In 1993, when I was thinking of running for the Senate, I went to John for advice. He convinced me I could help make a difference for our country.

I won that election, and with Republican control of Congress, we reformed welfare.

We balanced the budget.

And we began rebuilding our military.

What I remember most about those years is sitting next to John on the Senate floor as he led battle after battle to change the acrimonious, pork barreling, self serving ways of Washington.

The Senate has always had more than its share of smooth talkers.

And big talkers.

It still has.

But while others were talking reform, John McCain led the effort to make reform happen — always pressing, always moving for what he believed was right and necessary to restore the people’s faith in their government.

Confronting when necessary, reaching across the aisle when possible, John personified why we came to Washington in the first place.

It didn’t always set too well with some of his colleagues.

Some of those fights were losing efforts.

Some were not.

But a man who never quits is never defeated.

Because John McCain stood up our country is better off.

The respect he is given around the world is not because of a teleprompter speech designed to appeal to American critics abroad, but because of decades of clearly demonstrated character and statesmanship.

There has been no time in our nation’s history, since we first pledged allegiance to the American flag, when the character, judgment and leadership of our President was more important.

Terrorists, rogue nations developing nuclear weapons, an increasingly belligerent Russia.

Intensifying competition from China.

Spending at home that threatens to bankrupt future generations. For decades an expanding government … increasingly wasteful and too often incompetent.

To deal with these challenges the Democrats present a history making nominee for president.

History making in that he is the most liberal, most inexperienced nominee to ever run for President. Apparently they believe that he would match up well with the history making, Democrat controlled Congress. History making because it’s the least accomplished and most unpopular Congress in our nation’s history.

Together, they would take on these urgent challenges with protectionism, higher taxes and an even bigger bureaucracy.

And a Supreme Court that could be lost to liberalism for a generation.

This is not reform.

And it’s certainly not change.

It is basically the same old stuff they’ve been peddling for years. America needs a President who understands the nature of the world we live in.

A President who feels no need to apologize for the United States of America.

We need a President who understands that you don’t make citizens prosperous by making Washington richer, and you don’t lift an economic downturn by imposing one of the largest tax increases in American history.

Now our opponents tell you not to worry about their tax increases.

They tell you they are not going to tax your family.

No, they’re just going to tax “businesses”! So unless you buy something from a “business”, like groceries or clothes or gasoline … or unless you get a paycheck from a big or a small “business”, don’t worry … it’s not going to affect you.

They say they are not going to take any water out of your side of the bucket, just the “other” side of the bucket! That’s their idea of tax reform.

My friends, we need a leader who stands on principle.

We need a President, and Vice President, who will take the federal bureaucracy by the scruff of the neck and give it a good shaking.

And we need a President who doesn’t think that the protection of the unborn or a newly born baby is above his pay grade.

The man who will be that President is John McCain.

In the days ahead at this convention, you will hear much more about what John will do as president — what he will do on the economy, on energy, on health care, the environment… It is not my role tonight to explain that vision.

My role is to help remind you of the man behind the vision. Because tonight our country is calling to all of us to step up, stand up, and put “Country First” with John McCain.

Tonight we are being called upon to do what is right for our country.

Tonight we are being called upon to stand up for a strong military … a mature foreign policy … a free and growing economy and for the values that bind us together and keep our nation free.

Tonight, we are being called upon to step up and stand up with John just as he has stood up for our country.

Our country is calling.

John McCain cannot raise his arms above his shoulders.

He cannot salute the flag of the country for which he sacrificed so much. Tonight, as we begin this convention week, yes, we stand with him.

And we salute him.

We salute his character and his courage.

His spirit of independence, and his drive for reform.

His vision to bring security and peace in our time, and continued prosperity for America and all her citizens.

For our own good and our children’s, let us celebrate that vision, that belief, that faith so we can keep America the greatest country the world has ever seen.

God bless John McCain and God bless America.

10:40pm Eastern…Joe Lieberman on stage now addressing his “dear friends”…”We are all Americans”…

Prepared text…

Thank you for that warm welcome. I am honored to be here.

We meet tonight in the wake of a terrible storm that has hit the Gulf Coast but that hurts all of us, because we are all members of our larger American family.

At times like this, we set aside all that divides us, and we come together to help our fellow citizens in need.

What matters is certainly not whether we are Democrats or Republicans, but that we are all Americans.

The truth is, it shouldn’t take a hurricane to bring us together like this.

Every day, across our country, millions of our fellow citizens are facing huge problems.

They are worried about their homes, their jobs, and their businesses; they are worried about the outrageous cost of gas and of health insurance; and they are worried about the threats from our enemies abroad.

But when they look to Washington, all too often they do not see their leaders coming together to tackle these problems.

Instead they see Democrats and Republicans fighting each other, rather than fighting for the American people.

Our founding fathers foresaw the danger of this kind of senseless partisanship. George Washington himself — in his Farewell Address to our country — warned that the “spirit of party” is “the worst enemy” of our democracy and “enfeebles” our government’s ability to do its job.

George Washington was absolutely right. The sad truth is — today we are living through his worst nightmare, in the capital city that bears his name.

And that brings me directly to why I am here tonight. What, after all, is a Democrat like me doing at a Republican convention like this?

The answer is simple.

I’m here to support John McCain because country matters more than party.

I’m here tonight because John McCain is the best choice to bring our country together and lead our country forward.

I’m here because John McCain’s whole life testifies to a great truth: being a Democrat or a Republican is important.

But it is not more important than being an American.

Both presidential candidates this year talk about changing the culture of Washington, about breaking through the partisan gridlock and special interests that are poisoning our politics.

But only one of them has actually done it.

Only one leader has shown the courage and the capability to rise above the smallness of our politics to get big things done for our country and our people.

And that leader is John McCain!

John understands that it shouldn’t take a natural disaster like Hurricane Gustav to get us to take off our partisan blinders and work together to get things done.

It shouldn’t take a natural disaster to teach us that the American people don’t care much if you have an “R” or a “D” after your name.

What they care about is, are we solving the problems they are up against every day?

What you can expect from John McCain as President is precisely what he has done this week: which is to put country first. That is the code by which he has lived his entire life, and that is the code he will carry with him into the White House.

I have personally seen John, over and over again, bring people together from both parties to tackle our toughest problems we face –to reform our campaign finance, lobbying and ethics laws, to create the 9/11 Commission and pass its critical national security reforms, and to end the partisan paralysis over judicial confirmations.

My Democratic friends know all about John’s record of independence and accomplishment.

Maybe that’s why some of them are spending so much time and so much money trying to convince voters that John McCain is someone else.

I’m here, as a Democrat myself, to tell you: Don’t be fooled.

God only made one John McCain, and he is his own man.

If John McCain was just another go-along partisan politician, he never would have taken on corrupt Republican lobbyists, or big corporations that were cheating the American people, or powerful colleagues in Congress who were wasting taxpayer money.

But he did!

If John McCain was just another go-along partisan politician, he never would have led the fight to fix our broken immigration system or to do something about global warming.

But he did!

As a matter of fact, if John McCain is just another partisan Republican, then I’m Michael Moore’s favorite Democrat.

And I’m not.

Senator Obama is a gifted and eloquent young man who can do great things for our country in the years ahead. But eloquence is no substitute for a record — not in these tough times.

In the Senate he has not reached across party lines to get anything significant done, nor has he been willing to take on powerful interest groups in the Democratic Party.

Contrast that to John McCain’s record, or the record of the last Democratic President, Bill Clinton, who stood up to some of those same Democratic interest groups and worked with Republicans to get important things done like welfare reform, free trade agreements, and a balanced budget.

Governor Sarah Palin, like John McCain, is a reformer who has taken on the special interests and reached across party lines. She is a leader we can count on to help John shake up Washington.

That’s why the McCain-Palin ticket is the real ticket for change this year.

The Washington bureaucrats and power brokers can’t build a pen strong enough to hold these two mavericks.

And together, you can count on John McCain and Sarah Palin to fight for America and to fight for you! And that’s what our country needs most right now.

What we need most is not more party unity in America but more national unity!

Especially at a time of war, we need a President we can count on to fight for what’s right for our country — not only when it is easy, but when it is hard.

When others were silent, John McCain had the judgment to sound the alarm about the mistakes we were making in Iraq. When others wanted to retreat in defeat from the field of battle, when Barack Obama was voting to cut off funding for our troops on the ground,

John McCain had the courage to stand against the tide of public opinion and support the surge, and because of that, today, our troops are at last beginning to come home, not in failure, but in honor!

Before I conclude, I ask the indulgence of those in this hall tonight, as I want to speak directly to my fellow Democrats and Independents who are watching.

I know many of you are angry and frustrated by our government and our politics and for good reason.

You may be thinking of voting for John McCain but you’re not sure. Some of you have never voted for a Republican before and in an ordinary election, you probably wouldn’t.

But this is no ordinary election, because these are not ordinary times, and John McCain is no ordinary candidate. You may not agree with John McCain on every issue.

But you can always count on him to be straight with you about where he stands, and to stand for what he thinks is right regardless of politics.

As President, you can count on John McCain to be a restless reformer, who will clean up Washington and get our government working again for you!

So tonight, I ask you whether you are an Independent, a Reagan Democrat or a Clinton Democrat, or just a Democrat: This year, when you vote for President, vote for the person you believe is best for the country, not for the party you happen to belong to.

Vote for the leader who, since the age of 17, when he raised his hand and took an oath to defend and protect our Constitution, has always put our country first.

So, let’s come together to make a great American patriot our next great President!

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