So PBS it would be, and so I entered my house with a dispirited sigh over the choice.
And fired up as I am about McCain's choice for running mate (and I am fired up. I'd been crossing my fingers for Palin since her name was first brought up on the blogs last spring), and much as I liked Fred! as a candidate, I was not exactly stoked about seeing him up there trying to sell this pair of mavericks.
But I got in the door just as the RNC was starting its piece honoring Mike Monsoor. That wasn't really a surprise, to me. We know, around here, that the Republican party is the one to look for to publicly honor real heroes of this nation. But the piece was well done, and Gary Sinise's narration was smart, tasteful, restrained and therefore, ultimately, more moving.
I didn't hang about while the many other successful women and local dignitaries made their presentations... I had three cats to feed and fuss over. But when Fred! came on, I settled down and enjoyed the show. He was as much fun as I expected ; I knew he'd pull out all the stops for this. He got in his well-placed barbs without even once having to say the names of the other party's candidates -- and he got in a nice bit about Palin and moose-hunting.
The real surprise came with the arrival of Joe Lieberman on the dais.
I usually cringe when Joe speaks, mostly because his presentation, no matter how positive, sounds like he's slipping into a whine. It's my own flaw, I know, that I have a hard time getting past his mannerisms... I start to sound like the PBS pundit who complained about Fred!'s "many sentence fragments," while ignoring the content of the speech. So I stopped gritting my teeth and listened to his words.
There was no fire-and-brimstone Zell-Millerization (not that I expected that. heh). It was a low-key appeal for a true non-partisan approach... and pointed out whose actions, to date, had been genuinely, demonstratively crossing party lines for the benefit of the nation. And, I repeat, Wow.
As John Hinderacker puts it:
I was a little puzzled as to why Lieberman had been scheduled to finish the evening. Thompson's speech, while not a stemwinder in the traditional sense, seemed like the more rousing note on which to conclude. But Lieberman's speech turned out to be a masterpiece of persuasion that undoubtedly influenced the campaign. The only question is how many people were watching.
What was striking about Lieberman's speech was its simplicity. Lieberman, a very smart guy, didn't give a talk that sounded like it was intended for the Council on Foreign Relations. He spoke directly through the television cameras to the Democrats and independents watching the broadcast in their living rooms. He talked to his target audience in words that were extraordinarily simple, clear and direct. In his low-key, uniquely non-threatening way, Lieberman articulated a deceptively powerful--irrefutable, really--rationale for the candidacy of John McCain. He mentioned Obama only briefly, and without animus, but his observations about the "gifted and eloquent young man" who "has not reached across party lines to get anything significant done" were quietly devastating.
What a night!