Repub confab made no sense
Steve Schell

A few weeks ago in San Diego, the GOP faithful got together and paraded a few token African Americans, Latinos, and disabled persons across the stage in an attempt to tout the diversity of their party. On the first night of the convention, Co-chair Gov. Christine Todd Whitman told the hysterical crowd that people have flocked to the Republicans' common sense ideas like smaller, smarter government, adding, "you delegates are the living legacy of the Republicans' principles of inclusion and diversity." Answered by about five claps she nodded, "Yes! We are diverse!" At the very beginning William Bennett told a reporter, "This is a party of free men and women who have different views but there is a core philosophy."

Oh, please. Who is the GOP anyway? Of the convention delegates, they were overwhelmingly white and male and 38% of them pull in over 100 grand each year. And they all screamed and stamped their feet and waved "DOLE" signs in the air every time someone mentioned a tax cut. But the convention saw new issues in '96; issues such as AIDS, rape, the plight of small business in an attempt to touch more people. See, we do care about everyone.

The first night saw speakers such as George Bush, Sen. Al D'Amato, Capt. Scott O'Grady, and Gen. Colin Powell. Bush, who could've shortened his speech considerably had he not gone on about his accomplishments as president, said that "strong families and sound values are the backbone on America and they are the heart and soul of the Republican Party." This family and value thing was to be the recurring theme of the convention and each time someone mentioned families or values we'd get a shot of some delegate bouncing a baby up and down. (This was partly because childcare was not provided at the convention.) Anyway, Bush concluded by introducing his wife of 51 years as "arguably the most popular woman in the country." (More popular than Roseanne? More popular than Marge Simpson?) He added, "she unquestionably upheld the honor of the White House; did it with class and style and caring and love. She did her part to make ours a kinder and gentler nation." What he meant was that she knew her place as a woman. It just kills these people to see Hillary Clinton doing anything besides waving and smiling.

General Colin Powell, former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, gave a rousing speech in which he reiterated his support of affirmative action and his pro-choice stance on abortion. "I was invited here because we are a big enough party to disagree on individual issues and still work toward a common goal of restoring the American dream," he said. This American dream thing kept coming up as well, but no one ever defined it. Powell also said that welfare for the wealthy must be "first in line for elimination." No wonder he decided not to run for office.

Mary Fisher, an HIV+ AIDS activist, was back this year as strong as ever. Fisher has a great way of making a point. With a 12-year old girl who was born with AIDS at her side, she noted that "death comes as a result of infection, not as a result of immorality," but also added, "there is no preventative, there is no cure." Maybe she was talking about a vaccine, but there is a preventative. It's called safe sex or abstinence and it should be taught to everyone old enough to do it. But it's always the conservative republicans who resist any such education in the schools.

The second day saw an emphasis on crime and how it so out of control that people are afraid to leave their homes or let their children play even in their own back yards. It's terrible--teenage gangs roam the streets, terrorizing anyone in their path--we are afraid of our own children. And all this is because Bill Clinton is soft on crime. Rep. Deborah Price said that while "liberals instinctively ask Washington for help, Republicans ask how to strengthen our families." I thought the GOP knew all about strengthening families. What I can't understand is, with all this crime going on, why in hell is the GOP so reluctant to take some steps toward gun control?

And would the convention have been complete without some words from the Newt? Gingrich, whose approval ratings have dropped to a pitiful 30%, spoke briefly about how Martin Luther King's dream was the dream for "all Americans of every background," and began by introducing the American who won an Olympic gold medal in beach volleyball. You tell me.

Then there was Carole Keaton Rylander, Chair of the Texas Railroad Commission, who said that "as the mother of 5 sons and the proud grandmother of 2 baby girls, I believe there is no such thing as women's issues or men's issues." Let's start with the fact that women doing the same jobs as men are consistently paid less than men.

As the convention wound its way toward that great moment when the GOP's nominee would take the stage, we heard from vice presidential nominee Jack Kemp, who, since he was tapped by Dole has changed his position on affirmative action (he is now against it). Kemp told us that the income of working Americans is dropping or is stagnant. So why was it like pulling teeth to get a bill passed to increase the minimum wage? Kemp also wants to make it possible to sell public housing units to the tenants that live in them. How nice, everyone can be a homeowner. Yes, and that absolves government of the responsibility to maintain those units. I'm sure that many public housing tenants would like to be homeowners, but I think by and large they would like to own a different home.

I won't even discuss Elizabeth Dole's attempt at being Diana Ross. Her hubby, Bob, however, is a different story. It took about 5 full minutes for the delirious delegates to calm down enough for Bob to speak. He might as well have started out by saying, "I was born a poor black child..." Oh we didn't have much back then (who did, in 1923?). Dole slammed Hillary Clinton's book It Takes A Village, making the leap from village to collective to state. "It doesn't take the state to raise a child, it takes a family!!!" This sounds like some crazy patriot conspiracy theory--when she says village, she really means the government! The government is going to take away our children!! "I shall, as President, promote measures that keep families whole," Dole shouted. "God, Family, Honor, Duty, Country." What the hell does this mean?

"A government that seizes control of the economy for the good of the people ends up seizing control of the people for the good of the economy! For when they [bring] to themselves the authority to take the earnings and direct the activities of the people, they're fighting for the power to tell us what to do!" Dole continued. This is so GOP, isn't it? It is the Republicans who are constantly advocating measures that further erode what little freedoms we have left in this country. The GOP wants to tell you what you can and cannot smoke, with whom you can have sex, even what you can and cannot do in your own bedroom. In the name of fighting crime, they want everyone to have a gun but want to make it as easy as possible for law enforcement to be able to hassle the hell out of Joe citizen. It is they who want to tell us not only that children must pray in school, but that they must pray Christian prayers. And then they scream about big government.

Of course Bill Clinton got the blame for the recent terrorist attack in Dhahran as well as the supposed bombing of that TWA flight. "On my first day in office I will put terrorists on notice: You harm one American, you harm all Americans." (Isn't that the point of terrorism?) "In short, don't mess with us if you're not prepared to suffer the consequences!" he thundered. But that's just it: Most terrorists are prepared to give their lives for the point they are trying to make. We need to be sending a different message to terrorists.

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