The shameless Republican Party platform has broken the mold on what we long believed: Platforms are written to be shelved in a backyard shed to await the next windstorm. After being an increasingly reluctant political writer at several national conventions, I never considered a party platform to be part of the fertile landscape for reporters to write home about.
That has changed this year after the GOP capitulated to the Tea Partiers and presented us with a manifesto drawn up by self-absorbed fringe groups who unblushingly insist on warning us how we are entering the bravest of new worlds under their command. We've also been told by party establishment people like John Boehner to calm down because nobody reads those documents anyway. Oh?
In the past it was easy enough to dismiss platforms as meaningless treats that kept them out of the way of important business. If they said they wanted to move the Nation's Capital to the Cayman Islands, it didn't raise an eyebrow. But times have changed. The new political and religious culture bearing down on the country means business. The people at the convention are the true believers who form the hearts and souls of the old Republican Party from Congress to the Statehouses to the courthouses and county organizations. (Think: Summit County's Republican Party)
That's not only my description. It's Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell 's version of the hardest core planks. He happily called the platform the "heart and soul of the Republican Party." He should know . He presided over its drafting.
The current party spirit is demanding, humorless, unthinking and restless to move the horror show to next level. The French called it Grand Guignol theater, which based its narrative on fright scenes. Today, what's left of moderate Republicans are certainly aware of strange noises in the attic, fluttering curtains and moon-lit silhouettes.
The national pundits have already called the weird handiwork the "most conservative" platform in history. But there have always been conservative voices in the land back to the days of the Founding Fathers and their behavior could never fall to the mindless level of the Tampa convention.
Abortion, birth control, contraceptives, gays, anti-gun control, Medicare, ultrasound, ban on same-sex marriage --- on and on with intrusions into individual liberties that conservatives have long opposed are now in fashion. Even though his Etch-a-Sktech hasn't worked, look for Romney to back off a little of it here and there - confusing us even more on his positions. But some of his people were involved in creating the monstrous document. And he will learn to live with it while calling for self-deportation to solve the illegal immigrant problem. Jeez.
At one the conventions I attended in New York, I had long sidewalk conversations with people passing out Jews for Jesus flyers. I enjoyed the interviews. There were restaurants to visit , store windows to look at while a colleague and I tried (successfully!) to ignore the sidewalk whores on our way to Madison Square Garden. It took some of the edge off having to write another dull column about the convention itself.
The political culture today won't allow any distractions. Still, who were the two people at the convention who threw nuts at a black CNN camerawoman with the warning: 'This is how we feed animals." Police reportedly expelled them. But there was a message there somewhere.
A generation ago Republican officials were trying to convince me that they were deeply engaged in a plan to include minorities in their tent A recent NBC poll reported that African-Americans supported Obama 94-0.