Republican convention: A review
Harris Max
September/October 2004

As the Republican National Convention played to the archaically coiffed, spasmodically dancing party faithful, over 400,000 protestors marched in the largest demonstration against a convention in U.S. history. Amid the sea of red, white, and blue inside Madison Square Garden, the GOP once again showed its true colors.

While the Democrats count on Dave Mathews, R.E.M., Pearl Jam, and Springsteen for support, warming up the crowd for Bush on Thursday was gospel singer Donnie McClurken, who said on 700 Club, homosexuals are, "trying to kill our children." Sheri Dew, who delivered the convention's opening invocation, insists supporters of gay marriage are on par with folks who let Hitler get away with gassing the Jews. Combined with the disgraceful Purple Heart bandages worn on the floor mocking Kerry's Vietnam service, is this what's meant by compassionate conservatism?

Laura Bush's assertion that, "50 million more men, women, and children live in freedom thanks to the U.S." is absurd. That total is made up of the 28 million Afghanis who, outside of the capitol, are controlled by the same warlords and Taliban leftovers as before, and the 22 million Iraqis who are living in terror and violence as never before.

The other oft-quoted talking point, that homeownership (particularly minority homeownership) is at an "all-time high," is also misleading. Homeownership has grown every year on record; the relevant statistic is the rate of growth. Under Clinton, the percentage of Americans owning homes rose 1.8% in an average two-year period; in the last 2 years under Bush, less than 1%.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's tale of how every immigrant (well, those with Mr. Olympia belts that marry into powerful political dynasties) can cash in, had falsehoods of its own. Besides re-writing Austrian history, he stated, "The President didn't go into Iraq because the polls told him it was popular. A matter of fact, the polls said just the opposite." Actually Arnold, the number of Americans duped into believing there was a connection between Iraq and Al-Quaeda and that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction was two-thirds before the invasion of Iraq and 58% on its eve.

Dick Cheney's harangue that Kerry's use of the word "sensitive" shows weakness in dealing with terror is ironic. Speaking to the same Unity Journalists of Color Convention on 8-6-04, the day after Kerry's use of the "s" word, Bush (in his inimitable syntax) said, "Now in terms of the balance between running down intelligence and bringing people to justice obviously is - we need to be very sensitive on that." The real strength Cheney has displayed is financial gain from the Iraqi invasion. Despite repeated claims he had no knowledge or influence in a multi-billion dollar no-bid government contract for Halliburton, Time published a Pentagon memo in June, 2004 that clearly shows Cheney coordinated it. Were it not for the S.E.C. fines, the asbestos lawsuits, and the government's inquiries on price gouging of gas prices and unserved meals to U.S. troops in Iraq, his Halliburton stock options would really be worth something.

"President" Bush, left out a few minor (to him) concerns facing the nation, namely WMDs, Osama Bin Laden, environmental degradation, stem cell research, astronomical gas prices, the 45 million people without health insurance, and the record federal budget deficit. And he's painting Kerry as a tax and spender? If you're voting for Bush to save a couple of hundred dollars on your taxes, keep in mind the real benefactors of his tax cuts are the richest 1% of American households that own 38% of all the wealth. Kerry's tax increase would affect only the richest 2% of Americans.

Wasn't it Bush who flip-flopped that the war on terror can't be won? I would rather have a leader who is not afraid to re-examine events as new issues arise than one who rushes into them headlong. Bush failed to heed Colin Powell's warning on Iraq that "You break it, you own it," and that rashness will be plaguing our nation for decades economically and in world opinion long after the din from the GOP pep rally dies down.

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