Republican National Convention
Thursday, August 03, 2000

GOP's traits remain the same

        PHILADELPHIA — Do you believe everything, or even anything, you hear in a television commercial?

        When an announcer or actor or talking sock puppet claims it has the best SUV, or the coolest Web site or the most dependable brand of adult diapers, do you run out and buy said product?

        Or are you a little more skeptical, aware that you are being spun and maybe, just maybe, are not getting the full story from that little dog trying to sell you a chicken burrito?

        Then why would you, for even a brief moment, believe everything or much of anything you hear at this week's Republican National Convention, or again later this month at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles?

        Conventions have become four-day infomercials for their respective political parties and candidates. You get a sense of what the parties stand for and what they want to accomplish, but by no means do you get the entire picture of how they truly intend to govern.

        The Republicans should be lauded this week for their over-the-top efforts to include women and faces of color in their convention show.

Mostly white
        It's clear that if George W. Bush is elected he is going to have a diverse cabinet that is likely to include two African-Americans — retired Gen. Colin Powell and foreign policy expert Condoleezza Rice — and a native of Taiwan, Kentucky's own Elaine Chao.

        But still, the party's platform discourages affirmative action, even as Gen. Powell pushed for it during his Monday night convention speech.

        The Republicans say, in true advertising form, they are now the Big Tent party where all are welcome. But are they to be believed? Will their actions speak louder than their carefully scripted words?

        Take a look at that crowd in the convention hall. That is the real face of the GOP and, based on the delegates here this week, it's mostly white, affluent, male and on the tail end of baby boomer age.

Still conservative
        Another big effort by the GOP this week is to shed the hard-line conservative reputation that Bob Dole, Tom DeLay, Newt Gingrich and other GOP leaders gave to the party.

        They want to be conservative as not to offend or alienate their base, but not so conservative as to scare away moderates and Reagan Democrats, the voters who have ditched the GOP in the last two presidential elections.

        So what happens when there is a move to tone down the party's stance on abortion? It is squished like a bug by the Bush forces so the right wing doesn't get mad and crash the party here in Philly.

        Oh, yeah, the party also kept its call for a ban on abortion in the platform, something that will please a lot of Northern Kentucky voters but won't do much to help the ticket elsewhere.

        It's also something you haven't heard much about this week, nor will you hear it from the Republicans on the campaign trail.

        That would be bad politics. But it's great TV.

        Patrick Crowley covers Kentucky politics.

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