Jewish World Review Sept. 3, 2004 / 17 Elul, 5764
Zell gives Chris hell; But, wait, aren't they the First Daughters?; vote or die" plays the Garden; more
Pistols at dawn?
Thursday, the morning after Republican Convention keynote speaker Zell Miller pretty much challenged Chris Matthews to a duel, the "Hardball" host sued for peace with the Democratic senator from Georgia.
But Miller who on Wednesday night made the GOP delegates roar with meat so red it was bloody wasn't in a peacemaking mood.
Shortly after his oration, Miller went on MSNBC and submitted himself to an intense on-air grilling by Matthews about some of his harsher anti-John Kerry claims.
Matthews persisted in asking Miller if he really believed, as he asserted in Madison Square Garden, that Kerry wants to defend the United States "with spitballs."
Finally, Miller exploded:
"Get out of my face! If you're going to ask me a question, step back and let me answer. I wish we lived in the day when you could challenge a person to a duel. Now that would be pretty good. But don't pull that kind of stuff on me like you did that young lady (recent "Hardball" guest and JWR columnist Michelle Malkin) when you had her there browbeating her to death."
On Thursday, the firebrand Miller who is brazenly defying his political party to support George W. Bush fell silent when I asked him if he's still mad at Matthews.
"I'm thinking about how to answer that," the senator said as he rushed around the floor of Madison Square Garden giving television interviews, at one point angrily ripping into a television reporter who accidentally jostled a Miller admirer.
In due course, Miller told me: "I think it was an uncalled-for discourse. I found it pretty obnoxious, as when he attacked Michelle Malkin so unfairly. That's all I have to say about that."
Matthews, for his part, told me he'd enjoy a less emotional exchange: "I've had him on before and I'd like to have him on again. I know he was angry, and I was just trying to let him work through it. Heat can be illuminating and heat can be the opposite of illuminating, and I was just trying to lower the heat level."
BUT, WAIT, AREN'T THEY THE FIRST DAUGHTERS?
Kid Rock concerts aren't political rallies as Jenna and Barbara Bush learned the hard way.
President Bush's daughters turned out for Rock's Wednesday night show at nightclub Avalon and danced, drank and sang the night away in a tightly guarded upstairs VIP box opposite the stage.
But when the foul-mouthed cowboy finished his set, the Twins earnestly tried to lead the hundreds of beer-drenched, rowdy Republicans in a chant of "Four more years! Four more years!"
Both girls leaned over their "Evita balcony" and shouted, exhorting friends around them to join in. But it was not to be.
The teeming masses below, clamoring for a Kid Rock encore, drowned out the Bush daughters' feeble yells, and Jenna and Barbara were soon forced to abandon their quixotic quest.
Even worse, Kid Rock neglected to give the Twins any shout-outs over the course of his performance, despite the fact that his routine included the song "If I Were President," in which he promises to give his State of the Union address "from a mile high, smoking a joint on Air Force One."
At one point in the evening, the Twins' tallest male friends in the VIP booth stood atop a table and formed a human wall to shield Jenna and Barbara from the prying eyes of reporters positioned on a nearby balcony.
Around 2 a.m. Kid Rock finally wrapped up and the girls were spirited away in black Suburbans.
Not Rock, though. He loitered inside while his handlers shooed fans away. When one leaned an arm up against his massive General Motors SUV, a publicist ordered: "Keep your hands off the Denali!"
GREAT MORALE?: A spy for this column strolling through the convention media center Wednesday afternoon heard a raucous chant from the Fox News Channel workspace. "Four more years! Four more years!" Fox News employees were heard shouting merrily. "It stopped me dead in my tracks," said my witness. "It was outrageous but not surprising." On Thursday, a Fox News spokesman conceded that staffers were chanting "Four more years," not as an expression of support for President Bush, but rather as a humorous toast to a retiring techie. "This was Tuesday night," the spokesman said. As for the Wednesday chanting, "I'm not aware of that."
"VOTE OR DIE" PLAYS THE GARDEN: Rap mogul-turned-political activist Sean Combs may be a lot of things, but publicly partisan isn't one of them. After an interview with CNN's Bill Hemmer in Madison Square Garden Thursday, the freshly-mohawked Combs told this column: "After today, we gonna have to get to reality, and it's not gonna be about the speeches, it's gonna be about how people's lives are gonna change. At these conventions, you kind of get a sense of how one side doesn't like the other, but you don't leave with a sense of how life is about to change in a positive way for people who need help drastically." So if he were running for president himself, who would Combs choose as his veep? "It would have to be a lady I think, you know, a young lady. It would have to be a balance. For balance we need to have a woman vice president."
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