This morning's liveblog subject may be hard to top from the confines of my living room, but at least I don't have the Secret Service rifle squad sitting behind me. I'm sure even my most loyal readers will go to other sources for the big speakers (but was it hard not to feel a lump in the throat for Ted Kennedy.)
Here's Candy Schmeider from Iowa County as one of the Real People (working mom, precinct volunteer etc.) slotted in between the big speakers. I can't pull a quote out but the gist is "Obama inspired me." Have to flip over to CSPAN to catch it; MSNBC was talking to Chris Dodd about Kennedy.
Tom Harkin is doing double duty: He's signing and letting the interpreter speak, and he's introducing Jim Leach. Never thought I'd say that. "We Iowans never genuflect to ideology," he says (now with his own voice) by way of introduction. "Nobody exemplifies that more than Jim Leach." The audience seems to be hububbing. "He was a strong, proud, influential Republican. Jim is here because he knows red and blue are not as important as red white and blue."
Leach: Deep respect for the history of my party, "but something is akilter." That's a great word, "akilter." "The change Obama is advocating is a clarion call for renewal that taps Republican as well as Democratic traditions." Gives us a history lesson walking through Jefferson and Lincoln and suffrage and civil rights. Invokes the progressive Republican traditions of Teddy Roosevelt and, he says, Ike. "In troubled times it was understood that country comes before party."
"The party that once emphasized individual rights now wants to regulate values." Starts a whole list of "the party that once" statements. "America has seldom faced more critical choices." FOr the most part, Leach is on message and very similar to his earlier statements. "This is not a time for politics as usual or for run of the mill politicians. Little is riskier to America than more of the same."
Leach bashed Bush more by implication than by name -- praising H.W.'s multinational coalition in Gulf War I, for example -- and names McCain not at all. Once again, only CSPAN viewers see it, MSNBC viewers get Rachel Maddow and Pat Buchanan shouting at each other. Which was probably of most interest to most non-Iowa viewers; would you rather see a history lecture or a wrestling match?
So if a former Republican congressman falls in a forest, does he make a sound? Krusty makes an interesting remark:
I can’t tell you how disappointed I am of Leach. It’s not that he’s openly supporting Obama; it’s that he’s killing a very good congressional candidate in Mariannette Miller-Meeks. She is ideal in her district, but Leach’s actions make it difficult for her to rebuild that Leach coalition.
And people say that it’s the right wing killing the party…
CNN's Bill Schneider calls Leach "a glimpse of an endangered species," the moderate Republican. ABC is harsher: "A good guy, but who outside of Iowa ever heard of this defeated former Republican congressman? He's no Joe Lieberman. He's no Colin Powell, either."