Say what you will about the appropriateness of the Republicans' use of Sept. 11 as a political weapon, it's at least likely that John McCain and Rudy Giuliani will do a good job of it tonight at Madison Square Garden. Then there's Ted Poe, a Republican congressional candidate from Texas.
Poe, a judge who has worked as a Laci Peterson consultant for the Fox News Channel, got an early afternoon speaking spot Monday, and the speech excerpts released by the GOP shed some light on why he didn't quite make prime-time cut. While McCain and Giuliani will no doubt work Sept. 11, the war on terror, the Republicans' social agenda and the re-election of George W. Bush into some kind of seamless and inevitable whole, lesser lights like Poe aren't quite as practiced in the art.
Here he is, live from the convention stage:
"Today, America's finest are halfway around the world in Iraq fighting for freedom. We are also engaged in a fight at home for basic American principles. This threat is real. It is not enough to sit on the sidelines, complain and criticize as France did in the war in Iraq. We must continue to fight for less government, lower taxes -- and keeping our country 'one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all!'
"Sitting on the sidelines is not an option. Now is not the time to be a French Republican. Join me in the fight!"
Bonne chance, Judge Poe. Bonne chance.