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Republican convention a farce in compassion and inclusion

By Moniqua Lane
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
August 2, 2000
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In describing the opening night of the Republican convention, Associated Press reporter David Espo called it a "meticulously scripted appeal to voters in the political middle." How did Republicans try to convince the handful of viewers in TV land that they really are a moderate party of inclusive, "compassionate" conservatives? They trotted out good ol' Colin Powell. "See," the Republican Party said, "some of our best friends are minorities." The few who were watching this 37th gathering under the big tent were hoodwinked as the GOP's big tent was, is and will likely remain, a close resemblance to a rather exclusive pup tent.

If Republicans are so friendly with minorities, why have they been patting the same one, Colin Powell, on the head since 1992? Trotting out the popular, token black man is not the only trick Republicans have up their compassionate sleeves. They were sure to have Powell reference a favorite bit of Republican symbolism - Abraham Lincoln. Powell said Bush knows that "the party of Lincoln has not always carried the mantle of Lincoln," but that Bush "wants the Republican Party to wear that mantle again."

The Republican love affair with the Lincoln legacy is indeed ironic because for all that Lincoln was, he was a far cry from being a friend to the millions of black American slaves. Slavery was incidental to the causes of the Civil War, and slaves were only grudgingly emancipated during that war so that they could die fighting in it. Funny that today, Republicans want to be the same kind of friend to not only blacks, but all other minorities and women, too.

Affirmative action, social welfare spending and reproductive rights, all issues Republicans love to hate, are especially important to women and minorities. Cuts in affirmative action and social spending most detrimentally affect women and minorities. A constitutional ban on abortion is more than just not gonna happen, the mere idea is insulting to women. Certainly, Republicans are against affirmative action, social spending and reproductive rights because their compassion helps them understand the plight of women and minorities and want to do something to ease their burdens.

With all this and the Republican relationship with the NRA and their protectiveness over the defense budget, isn't it obvious that they care about women and minorities? Bush must have picked up some lessons in compassion from his old college buddies in Princeton's elite brotherhood - the Skull and Bones Society. The man actually used the phrase "armies of compassion."

If, however, Colin Powell, enlightened issue stances, and compassionate leader G.W. can't convince the voter that Republicans are warm and fuzzy, then maybe Bush's telegenic Hispanic nephew can work some magic. Bush's nephew, a cutie who could easily give Ricky Martin a run for his money, should also have a slightly heightened profile as the election picks up steam. The boy has been in the image game for a few years as he also saw screen time during the convention that renominated George Bush the elder in 1992. Perhaps he and his Hispanic mother will help bring some compassion to Republican policy. At the very least, they can help keep Bush up on his Spanish.

Other fancy dancing included having a Muslim cleric and a Jewish rabbi perform opening invocations as well as a cameo appearance by Ben Stein. Also, now openly gay congressman, Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz, was chosen to put in a few good words for the party. How did that man make it to the podium without tripping over that anti-gay rights plank in the platform? Apparently, for Kolbe, the personal is never political.

The few who watched the first night of the Republican convention got a mildly entertaining show. Still, for jaw-dropping special effects and the same mediocre performances, viewers would have done just as well to cough up $7.50 at the movies and get a tub of popcorn with their wasted time.

Admittedly, the Democratic horse and pony show two weeks from now will be the same hypocritical mess of hyperbole, but the Republican party showed its ugly mug first, so it gets the black eye. As delegates to the shadow convention, the Citizens' Intervention in American Politics, said to that other Republican scrapper, the one from Arizona, "Boo, hiss, boo, hiss!"

Moniqua Lane is a history and political science senior. She can be reached at editor@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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