Let's Talk Sense...
Wednesday, August 9, 2000 Volume XXV, No. 20
Roswell, New Mexico
In this issue:
Report From Philadelphia, part 2
Republicans for "Choice"
Colin Powell (He's just readin' it, folks)
REPORT FROM PHILADELPHIA
The people of Philadelphia went out of their way to make us feel welcome. It wasn't just the 15,000 volunteers (they were absolutely tremendous) but everyday people on the street who would stop and try to help people, and were uniformly polite and enthusiastic about the convention. They even worried about the demonstrations. A couple of people walking by as we observed a march, asked what we thought of the city, and went on to assure us that "these people (the demonstrators) aren't from Philly."
Rod's Interview with Chris Matthews
OKAY, so it's not exactly like I am a reporter going and getting an "interview," but while in Philadelphia, if I saw a celebrity or prominent political leader I admire, I sometimes asked to get a picture with him or her. No one ever refused or even seemed bothered by the request. Chris Matthews was no exception.
I met up with him at an isolated and lightly used service elevator. There were two other guys with him for the elevator. As one of them was taking the picture, I asked, "So who's going to win."
"Gore," he said, without hesitating.
"Really," I said, somewhat surprised.
"Look," he shot back in his Philadelphia-bred machinegun-like cadence, "I'm not saying that's what I want to see happen, but you asked me what I thought and I'm telling you."
"Why is Gore going to win?" I asked.
"Cause this is going to be the dirtiest, meanest, most negative campaign in history, you have never seen anything like it. Bush doesn't know what he's in for. Gore is going to beat his brains in on abortion, on the environment, on women's issues, on his record in Texas, on education, on everything he can. He will stop at nothing and he'll do or say whatever he needs to win. I'm just tellin' ya."
"Oh," I said, "thanks."
"You're welcome, no problem," he said.
That was late Monday night.
Celebrity journalists were everywhere. The place was packed--a fire marshal's nightmare. The aisles were filled with people squeezing past each other, so you were constantly literally rubbing elbows with these people you see on TV all the time. Peter Jennings was the only "anchor" I saw come to the floor, and he was there all the time---heavily made up.
At an elevator again, on Monday night, George Stephanopoulos is the last one to back in, and is left standing right in front of me. So I tell him what Chris Matthews said and he said, "Well, I'm kind of leaning that way myself, I guess I just couldn't be quite as sure as Chris is about it. I mean, I think we have a long way to go. I do believe it's going to be close, and it's going to be a tough campaign." I didn't ask him any more questions. (He's very short, maybe 5' 4" or so. Matthews appeared to be about 6' 2" and probably 220 or so.)
Later, the night of the Cheney speech, the exact same scenario occurred with Stephanopoulos on the same elevator. So I asked him, "What did you think of the speech?"
"Okay, I guess, a little harsh, maybe, but I'm not sure, I just spent the last 20 minutes arguing with Ted Koppel and Peter Jennings about their impression of how it will play out in the heartland. I don't think it will play that well, and they both thought it would be well-received."
I wasn't so surprised that Koppel might be willing to say that, but frankly I was shocked that Jennings might say anything even remotely "supportive." I didn't ask any more questions. End of celebrity interview number three.
Republicans for "Choice"
In the late afternoon of the Thursday before the convention, I got a call at home from a nice lady who said she was with Republicans for Choice and that she was calling from Philadelphia. She asked me very politely if I would be willing to "join other Republicans in the New Mexico delegation" in signing a petition that would ask for a roll call vote on the convention floor. The roll call would be on a proposal to appoint a
committee to meet for the purpose of drafting "more inclusive language on the 'choice plank' in our platform."
"We need language which appeals to a broader population in America and has a more moderate tone, and therefore helps more voters be inclined to support our party," she said. After amplifying her argument a little more as I listened, she concluded by asking, "Can we count on your signature, Senator Adair?"
"No ma'am," I said quietly.
"Oh," she said, sounding surprised. "Well, I am disappointed, but I hope you have a great convention."
"Thank you, you've been very sweet," I said, using my most inclusive, moderate and appealing tone.
* * * *
FAST forward to the convention.
Republicans for Choice were working the delegation throughout the day Monday, trying to get enough signatures from six delegations to bring about their roll call vote.
But well-organized RNC workers (or was it Bush campaign people---or at a national convention is there really any difference at all) were everywhere, monitoring the situation.
As soon as they would hear that a delegate or two somewhere had signed the petition, they would be right on top of the situation, talking to that delegate, providing a legal document which nullified his or her signature if they chose to do so. Many did.
Republicans for Choice failed to get a vote. The threshold for signatures was very low, something like only 10 or 11 signatures from only six states. Still, they failed. Everybody wanted a smooth convention. The Republicans were more united than anytime in the past 16 years, if not longer. Regardless of what they thought, Republicans for Choice were trying to rain on the parade.
A national convention has something on the order of 500 parties and receptions. Most are exclusively for specific state delegations, but there are probably 150 or 200 which send out invitations and the all important "credentials." Those are the "cards on shoelaces" hanging around everyone's neck at a convention. You had to have them to get to delegate seating, or alternate seating, or guest seating, just to get into the building. (Security was tight by the way. All cameras and cell phones were thoroughly examined, and much tighter individual scrutiny was given than anything at any airport.)
You had to have credentials (an invitation hanging around your neck) to get to the good parties----like the Henry Bonilla party at the Hard Rock Cafe. Dana and I had never been to a Hard Rock Cafe. Obligatory photo of course with Congressman Bonilla.
The best food party was at the Reading Terminal, a great food and vegetable market. It was not exclusive as the New Mexico, Wyoming, Idaho, and Hawaii delegations were all there. The Philadelphia special, the
cheese steak from an Italian place in the market was the best food of the week. I asked how the typical Philadelphian does it and the owner said, with the basic cheese steak, the meat and the cheese in a bun, and typical you add cheese whiz, and these peppers over here and a little ketchup. The Cheese Whiz didn't sound good, but I followed instructions to the letter. It was superb.
The ones I saw were largely comical. (We were not that close to any which resulted in the more than 350 arrests during the week.)
The demonstrators were dressed in all manner of attire, many attempting to spoof some aspect of the convention, the campaign or the "special interest groups" they found offensive.
Clearly most of the people in each parade I saw were for Gore (the rest were for Nader), and the causes they embraced were all part of the Democrat agenda. But they were peaceful and orderly in our area.
One group, separated out and actually ran into me as I was coming back from downtown. It was about 20-25 young people dressed in tuxedos, top hats and evening gowns. They were "Billionaires for Bush and Gore." The women had fake greenbacks stuffed in their bosoms and the men lit cigars with wads
of "cash." They were funny.
Colin Powell (He's just readin' it, folks)
Colin Powell's speech was well-received by all who matter. Those who matter are the great muddled-middle and the media. As a matter of fact Colin Powell's speech was well-received by us committed conservatives too. We liked it because we knew it was going over big with the groups mentioned above. We didn't worry about numerous inconsistencies. We are the only people who even caught them----and we are voting for Bush no matter what the retired general says. His appearance was great theatre and that's what it needed to be.
Don't get me wrong. I believe General Powell is the best qualified individual in my lifetime to be Secretary of State. You have to go back to General George Marshall to find someone better qualified, and that would
take you back 51 years! (I am just 46, despite appearances---I have had a difficult and challenging life, you know Central American jungles and all that stuff.)
Yes, top generals ( four-star or five-star) are vastly more qualified than any number of professional cookie pushers you could line up. And if he is appointed I am confident he will be successful.
However, a couple of throwaway lines he had were not exactly on target. The lines about affirmative action were completely off-base. No minorities have gained the opportunity for an entire education from quota-based systems, as he implied. What some minorities have gotten is, for example, a chance to attend the University of California at Berkeley instead of say, California at Santa Cruz, or some other place in the Cal system. Some kids have gotten into Harvard when they would otherwise have gone to
perhaps Boston College. That sort of thing.
More egregious though, and George Bush is to blame for this because of his throwaway appeasement line at the NAACP convention last month, is Powell's line impugning Republicans on civil rights and race. Parroting Bush's line, he said, "We are the party of Abraham Lincoln, even though we may not have always lived up to it."
For just a moment, I wished for an opportunity to say, "Really, when did we not live up to it, general." In that event he would, I swear, have the blankest look on his face. He would have absolutely no answer. He is just reading the script, and those kinds of remarks are the kind we have allowed to pass for years. In fact, we are the party of civil rights and I can go on for a whole column about how our record stacks up.
No he wouldn't be able to answer at all. That particular line was pabulum for the masses.... and for the media, who are closer to the masses than they can ever realize. It was a throwaway for show, delivered by a man who is a logistician, and tactically, operationally and strategically trained soldier of the highest order. He'll be a great secretary of state, but there's no reason to hang on his every word when he waxes eloquent about domestic issues. He doesn't need to, and in reality, he shouldn't try.
Keeping the faith.
In the next issue:
The media are making a big deal out of nothing
Absolutely nobody votes on religious affiliation anymore
Lieberman does NOT restore whatever to the
"Oval Office" He's the VICE-presidential candidate
(everyone's rhetoric has him replacing Clinton, he
is replacing GORE!)
And much, much more.....