From firstname.lastname@example.org Thu Aug 10 13:38:50 2000
Date: Tue, 8 Aug 2000 23:58:14 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Oscar " <email@example.com>
Subject: The GOP's Lie-apalooza
Loyal Opposition: The GOP's Lie-apalooza
By David Corn, AlterNet
7 August 2000
Almost all political campaigns lie; some do it better than others.
Team Bush and the Republican Party demonstrated how well duplicity
can be done during their warm-and-fuzzy, have-a-nice-election
convention in Philadelphia.
There were the big lies -- most noticeably the racial composition
of the speakers shuffled before the television cameras. Opening
night looked more like an NAACP gathering than a GOP convention.
Nothing wrong in that -- other than the Republicans insisted that
skin color had nothing to do with the selection of their talking
heads. This is the party that attacks affirmative action but is
quick to practice it covertly for secret gain.
Another whopper: Bush has a "bold reform agenda." At a National
Review reception honoring Representative Henry Hyde, who led the
impeachment charge, I encountered Ralph Reed, the former Christian
Coalition mastermind who is a paid adviser to Bush, and asked him
to evaluate the convention. As servers carried trays of jumbo shrimp
and Belgian endives stuffed with duck and apricots to a mostly
monochromatic crowd of dark-suited conservatives that did not look
like "different kinds of Republicans," Reed uttered the catch-phrase
"bold reform agenda" four times in two minutes, each instance
flashing a smile that could blind. He was, as they say, on-message.
Bold reform? Not of the campaign finance system or the health care
system that leaves 10 million or so children uninsured. Bush has
proposed privatizing Social Security and "reforming" the military
(read: throw money at it). And that, I suppose, is what Reed had
in mind. To many others, his excessive use of this term might seem
a lie of interpretation.
Prevarication abounded in Philadelphia. Hyde insisted that the only
reason why the GOP impeachment drive was never specifically mentioned
at the convention podium was because that would "validate" the
"Democratic spin" that the impeachment campaign was politically
motivated. That is, Hyde was asking people to believe the silence
on impeachment had nothing to do with the Bush camp's plan to soften
the party's image and distance itself from the Years of Newt.
In pursuit of that softness, the Bush campaign allowed Representative
Jim Kolbe, an openly gay Republican, to address the convention
regarding trade. This scheduling decision was widely viewed as a
not-too-discreet wink to gays and lesbians. Bush campaign spokesman
Ari Fleischer asserted Kolbe's sexual preference had nothing to do
with his appearance. (More senior members of Congress were not
granted primetime slots.) But was Kolbe's high-profile gig a
contradiction, considering the GOP platform remained opposed to
gay rights and supports the Boy Scouts of America decision to ban
gay scoutmasters? Didn't the GOP appear a slight bit silly taking
the position that Kolbe can represent the GOP on a topic of national
importance but he cannot lead a Boy Scout troop? Not at all,
To stay on the New Republican feel-good track, the Bushies had to
duck such conflicts. After Cheney delivered his acceptance speech,
his children did not join him on the stage, as is customary. Could
that have been because 31-year-old Mary Cheney is a lesbian? GOP
chair Jim Nicholson asserted the Republicans had no problem with
Mary. Swept up in tolerance fever, he told a reporter, "This party
is steadfastly againt discrimination regardless of their race, sex,
creed or any preferences they choose to follow."
Well, that's a lie. The platform explicitly states that the
Republicans do not approve of laws that protect people on the basis
of sexual preference. If Mary Cheney loses a job or an apartment
due to her sexual orientation, the GOP believes she should have no
recourse. When I asked a Nicholson aide about his remark, she
quickly snapped, "I don't want to talk about it."
The platform belied many of the GOPers' assertions and actions.
Hoping to add some middle-America cool to the Motown-ish convention,
the Bush campaign enlisted World Wrestling Federation star The Rock
to introduce House Speaker Denny Hastert at the podium. A few
sharp-eyed observers noted that the platform moans about "the
pollution of our culture" and "the glorification of violence." It's
hard to propose a more popular glorification of violence than the
WWF. Responding to criticism regarding The Rock's appearance, Ed
Gillespie, a Republican spokesperson, snorted, "It's an entertainment
segment of the portion ... Lighten up and have a little fun. We
want to boost interest in the program." In other words, entertainment
value trumps principle. How craven.
T.R. Roosevelt IV was recruited to speak and supply brand-name
cover to the GOP on the environment, for the original T.R. was a
conservationist. He rah-rahed environmentalism, praised T.R. for
a being a hardass who used the force of the federal government to
protect environmentally sensitive lands, and noted that "some of
the world's best scientists give us twenty, maybe thirty years to
turn back the tide on ecological devastaton." This was a reference
to global warming.
Turn to the platform: it calls for the federal government to be
less assertive (urging us to "trust the innate good sense and
decency of the American people" and, presumably, American corporations).
It also describes global warming as a "contentious issue" -- meaning,
hey it may not be so bad -- and calls for "more research" instead
of action. T.R. on stage; J.R. in charge.
In the skyboxes, there were plenty of J.R.-looking types. As
hundreds, if not thousands, of corporate lobbyists and donors milled
throughout Philadelphia, the campaign announced it had found its
theme song -- "We The People," a new tune by country singer Billy
Ray Cyrus. (Remember "Achey, Breaky Heart"?) This sappy number
notes that "farmers rise evey morning at five/the truckers drive
them eighteen-wheelers all night/the factory workers, they build
it with pride/twenty-four seven down the assembly line." (Unless,
of course, the plant's been relocated to Mexico, thanks to Nafta.)
The refrain: "We the people/We run the country."
That's a tough line to swallow, especially when you gaze up at
those skyboxes and spot the biggest donors, who all week long were
sitting in smug satisfaction and looking down upon the delegates
and party activists. Even when Bush spoke, the excitement level in
this exclusive territory was muted. The GOP calls its top-givers
"regents." Why not give up the charade and refer to them as "lords"?
At the start of the week, Bush campaign manager Don Evans, a leading
fundraiser, was asked by a reporter whether the tens of millions
of dollars in corporate-related money the campaign and party has
pocketed taints the Bush effort. Nah, he said: "George Bush is
somebody all America can trust ... It's not any more complicated
than that." It is amazing how bold they can be -- not in reform,
but in spin.
John McCain, though, presented a false picture by going tame. Sure,
he lied when he said of Bush: "I am grateful to him. And I am proud
of him." Grateful? For what? For running ads in the primary accusing
McCain of not caring about breast cancer? But this was S.O.P. The
loser is supposed to lie about the winner. McCain the maverik became
McCain the apparatchik. When he opened Arianna Huffington's Shadow
Convention, he outlined the need for campaign finance reform and
then suggested George W. Bush was the candidate of reform. In the
convention hall, he went further then he had to. In that speech,
he never mentioned the phrase "campaign finance reform." It resembled
a speech at a show trial. There was no straight talk. He was
self-censoring and lying by omission. He decried the cynicism modern
politics breeds without sharing his explanation of that phenomenon.
This was his good-soldier moment, but he was being loyal to a
candidate, not a cause.
Still, McCain ended his speech not with a rousing "on-to-glory-for-Bush"
exhortation, but with a mysterious line that was a whisper of a
double entendre. Earlier in the speech, he referred to the Americans
who fought in World War II and, quoting Tocqueville, noted they
went off to war "haunted by visions of what will be." At the end
of the address, McCain spoke of his hope in the American people
and their ability to build a civilization and to use the nation's
wealth "in an enlightened way." He then concluded: "I have such
faith in you, my fellow Americans. And I am haunted by the vision
of what will be." Kind of a downer. What exactly is he haunted by?
A Gore victory? A Bush triumph? It was the statement of a general
who had fully surrendered but who did not wish to yield the final
The man who vanquished McCain fooled with the truth when he accepted
the nomination. He pushed his Social Security privatization plan,
without mentioning the $1 trillion or so in transition costs. His
own lie of omission. The former frat boy who seems proud of the
fact he was never engaged by the turmoils of the 1960s, praised
the courage of the civil rights movment. A lie of false association.
The fellow who ducked active military service during Vietnam cited
that war in calling for more military spending: "A generation shaped
by Vietnam must remember the lessons of Vietnam." Another lie of
false association. A candidate who visited Bob Jones University
and whose campaign employed underhanded ads and push-polling called
for more "civility and respect" in politics. A lie of hypocrisy.
But between these lies he gave a helluva speech that, in essence,
said: if you're tired of and disappointed by the lies and stains
of the Clinton-Gore years, I'm a grown-up you can trust. When he
was done, a Ricky Martin tune blasted from the speakers. It was
followed by a Motown hit.
There was one big truth that Bush and his lieutenents did speak at
the convention. He is, as they claimed incessantly, a "different
kind of Republican." He's not mean. He is comfortable speaking
about the poor and being photographed with minorities. In his
acceptance speech, he did not dwell on the hot-button GOP issues
-- abortion, gun rights, gay rights, school prayer. He conceded
that "good people disagree" on abortion, even as he quickly confirmed
his anti-abortion rights position.
He has lost the smirk. He can come across as sincere. The Democrats
will not be able to Satanize him, as they did with Newt Gingrich,
or dismiss him, as they did with Bob Dole. George W. Bush hasn't
changed the core positions of his party -- tax breaks that favor
the wealthy, criminalization of abortion, no new gun control, no
campaign reform, etc. That's why the base of the GOP is with him.
But he has altered the face of the party. Al Gore and his Democrats
have a tough task in trying to convince the public that the Bush
smile is a lie.
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