By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
In fact, from the moment last year when Ralph Reed, the former executive director of the Christian Coalition, signed on to the Texas governor‘s campaign, it was clear that W could call for collectivization of agriculture without anyone raising an eyebrow. Until election day, the right will make only one demand on W: Just win, baby.
After election day, we’ll talk.
II. Sic ‘Em, Bob!
Fortunately, the Bush campaign is trying to help them through this difficult time. The trick is to have speakers say nothing directly about Clinton, but merely that it is time to restore respect, or honor, or bi-partisan sweetness and light to government. Even Laura Bush was given one such zinger. Since the campaign commenced, she said, she’s frequently seen parents who “hold out pictures of their children, and they say to George, ‘I’m counting on you. I want my son or daughter to respect the president of the United States of America.‘” This line was delivered at around 10:20 on a Monday-night session that had begun at 7:30, and it drew the biggest ovation of the evening. After nearly three hours of making nice, the Republicans were plainly relieved that whoever was running the convention had found a way to let them vent.
But not far from the convention floor, at receptions and soirees across town, the truly unreconciled unburdened themselves. Such was the case at a Sunday-afternoon reception of the Republican Jewish Coalition, a small but hearty right-wing band. The program began with a nice talk from Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who was elected in 1994 as a conservative true-believer and is leading in his re-election race this year chiefly because he’s morphed into a moderate. Like everyone on message in Philly, a Santorum hailed W‘s “message of compassionate conservatism” and his “reaching out” to all races, ethnicities, you know the drill. Then the host introduced a ghost -- the personification of everything that W was trying to distance himself from. Newt Gingrich stepped up to the podium.
Freed from the burdens of public office, Newt has picked up one swell tan, or maybe he’s just perpetually flushed. Wearing a brilliant blue blazer and a yachtsman‘s white trousers, with a shock of white hair perched atop a beet-red face, he looked like a rather menacing Pillsbury DoughBoy dressed as the American flag.
After the most perfunctory of prefaces, he began to speak quickly, urgently. And for the first time all weekend, the guests heard a real conservative. The word “compassion” did not escape his lips; the very concept seemed alien to him. Without a single reference to George W. Bush, he began to talk about the “terribly dangerous” deeds that Bill Clinton had committed at Camp David. Clinton was wrong to say in an interview after the conference that he was considering moving the American embassy to West Jerusalem. Why? [Because moving the embassy to the declared capital of Israel “shouldn’t have been raised as a threat to Arafat.” And there was another reason, “even more profound”: Clinton should have said this at the beginning, not the end, of the negotiations.]
When you consider that the (politically) conservative wing of American Judaism has waited for decades for an American president to make this statement, the fact that Clinton made it at the wrong time for the wrong reason might not have loomed so large -- except that it illustrated Clinton‘s fecklessness and lack of principle. Newt then zeroed in on the North Korean threat to every hearth and home, and the criminality of the Clinton administration in not having already deployed an anti-missile system to counter that country’s nuclear arsenal. He concluded with the thought that we were all in Philadelphia, where a constitutional congress had met to “create a constitution of stunning brilliance,” and that America was still an experiment that could either mark the “victory of human freedom,” or be “just a moment between eras of barbarism” if the Republicans didn‘t prevail this November, to which end the worthies in the room could surely write big checks.
Whew! Here was the real thing -- a Republican who could only speak in superlative or apocalyptic tones, who still clung to a Manichaean view of the world in which the barbarians and the Koreans and the appeasers and the Democrats and Bill Clinton are all the enemy. Nostalgia swept the room.
But the warm feelings were as nothing to those that a hearty band of impeachment die-hards and Clinton conspiracy buffs experienced the following afternoon in a downtown hotel. The occasion was a reception honoring Indiana Congressman Dan Burton, who has used his chairmanship of the Governmental Operations Committee to investigate the Vince Foster suicide and the administration’s complicity with Chinese spies, and to continue looking into Travelgate though the special prosecutor had already moved on to other things. The co-honoree was Georgia‘s Bob Barr, the first House member to introduce an impeachment resolution, way back before the Monica Lewinsky scandal -- a House prosecutor so unhinged that Henry Hyde assigned him to go over the briefs for punctuation. Co-hosts David Bossie, a onetime Burton “investigator” whom Burton had to let go when the quality of his (Bossie’s) evidence was called into question, and right-wing author Floyd Brown presented each solon with the “Citizens‘ Hero Service Above Self Award.” Phyllis Schlafly was there, and former G-Man Gary Aldrich, who’d uncovered some of the most erroneous information on Clinton during the past 8 years. Henry Hyde, the Emperor Penguin of the Judiciary Committee, waddled slowly in, surveyed the roomful of lunatics, and waddled right back out.