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From patternmaster@disinfo.net Thu Aug 10 13:38:50 2000
Date: Tue, 8 Aug 2000 23:58:14 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Oscar " <patternmaster@disinfo.net>
Subject: The GOP's Lie-apalooza
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Article: 102260
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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, Fleischer said.

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 inch.

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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