Disenfranchised Ron Paul delegates are not the only ones causing headaches for the Republican National Convention organizers hoping to catapult Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan into the White House. There's also that plucky little image problem as the split TV screen shows Isaac becoming a hurricane just as it hits New Orleans on the 7th anniversary of Katrina and the jolly GOPers in their funny cheap displays of patriotism.
(Sept. 3, 2012 cover of the New Yorker magazine featuring a bromance between Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. Illustration by Barry Blitt)
The Republican Party also has the improbable split screen PR image of the bromance of its top two candidates and the most antigay, anti-women Party Platform in history - not to mention the pitiful attempts at a show of unity between the forward-thinking forces for love and equality and the knuckle-draggers preaching hate and junk science wrapped in the tarp of religion.
As the New Yorker reminds us, 20 years ago this month, former Nixon speech writer Patrick Buchanan stole the show opening night and set the tone for the GOP ever since
"Friends," Buchanan said, "there is a religious war going on in this country. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we shall be as the Cold War itself. For this war is for the soul of America." The fight, he explained, was over such issues as abortion, equal rights for homosexuals, and the inclusion of women in combat units. Buchanan was against these things--"It's not the kind of change we can abide in a nation we still call 'God's country.' " Of course, he said, he stood for unity and had come to rally the Buchanan Brigades to Bush's cause, but nobody was fooled.
Today, solid majorities of Americans support gay rights, legal abortion, and women in combat. Yet the G.O.P. platform opposes them; the culture war that Buchanan trumpeted is no longer an insurgent cause but a permanent condition of the Republican Party, and, increasingly, it is being fought within the Party. Mitt Romney was reminded of this on the eve of this year's Republican Convention, in Tampa, when Representative Todd Akin, of Missouri, who is running for the Senate, told a television interviewer that abortion should be criminalized, without allowing an exception for victims of rape; "legitimate rape," he said, rarely results in pregnancy, since "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." Akin later explained that when he said "legitimate rape" he really meant "forcible rape," which wasn't exactly reassuring.
Akin's woeful semantics posed an immediate problem for Romney, because his running mate, the Tea Party hero Paul Ryan, had worked with Akin in the House, co-sponsoring anti-abortion legislation that included several draft bills employing the term "forcible rape." Now, however, Ryan was privately urging Akin to do the Party a favor and drop out of the Senate race, a call that Romney echoed on the stump, though neither demanded that Akin quit the House, where, after all, he is firmly in the Republican mainstream. Actually, Ryan, in sharing Akin's hard line on abortion, is at odds with Romney, who has repudiated the pro-choice policy he espoused as governor of Massachusetts but would allow exceptions in cases of rape or incest, or if a pregnancy endangered the woman's life. Still, Ryan subordinated his beliefs, saying, "Mitt Romney is going to be the President. The President sets policy."
Maybe Ryan felt that he had visited enough headaches on his new boss for one week, but he hardly represented a newfound Party discipline. When word got out that the Republican platform called for the criminalization of abortion without reference to exceptions, the Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus, declined to bow to the candidate. "This is the platform of the Republican Party," he told MSNBC. "It is not the platform of Mitt Romney."
Yeah, but the Family Research Council is taking credit for the junk science in the platform. And don't think Tony Perkins won't get all Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction" if he is ignored by the GOP! Perkins now has the power that Focus on the Family's Dr. James Dobson used to have with Karl Rove.
Despite Log Cabin Republicans' hopes that the language would include at least an allusion to "dignity and respect" for gay people, R. Clarke Cooper conceded that the end result is "bad with a capital 'B.'" Tony Perkins, of the anti-gay hate group the Family Research Council, took personal credit for drafting the anti-equality language, boasting that platform drafting leaders Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) were "friends of FRC." Here is some of the hostile anti-equality language Perkins incorporated into the draft:
Marriage and the Judiciary
A serious threat to our country's constitutional order, perhaps even more dangerous than presidential malfeasance, is an activist judiciary, in which some judges usurp the powers reserved to other branches of government. A blatant example has been the court-ordered redefinition of marriage in several States. This is more than a matter of warring legal concepts and ideals. It is an assault on the foundations of our society, challenging the institution which, for thousands of years in virtually every civilization, has been entrusted with the rearing of children and the transmission of cultural values.
Defense of Marriage
That is why congressional Republicans took the lead in enacting the Defense of Marriage Act, affirming the right of States and the federal government not to recognize same-sex relationships licensed in other jurisdictions. An activist judiciary usurps the powers reserved to other branches of government and endangers the foundation of our country. We oppose the Administration's open defiance of this constitutional principle -- in its handling of immigration cases, in federal personnel benefits, in allowing a same-sex marriage at a military base, and in refusing to defend DOMA in the courts -- makes a mockery of the President's inaugural oath. We commend the United States House of Representatives and those State Attorneys General who have defended these laws when they have been attacked in the courts. We reaffirm our support for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We applaud the citizens of the majority of States which have enshrined in their constitutions the traditional concept of marriage, and we support the campaigns underway in several other states to do so.
The institution of marriage is the foundation of civil society. Its success as an institution will determine our success as a nation. It has been proven by both experience and endless social science studies that marriage is best for children. Children raised in intact married families are more likely to attend college, are physically and emotionally healthier, are less likely to use drugs or alcohol, are less likely to engage in crime, and are less likely to get pregnant outside of marriage. The success of marriage directly impacts the economic wellbeing of individuals. Furthermore, the future of marriage affects freedom. The lack of family formation not only leads to more government costs, but also more government control over the lives of its citizens in all facets. We recognize and honor the courageous efforts of those who bear the many burdens of parenting alone, even as we believe that marriage, the union of one man and one woman must be upheld as the national standard, a goal to stand for, encourage, and promote through laws governing marriage. We embrace the principle that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity.
Earlier [last] week, Tyler Deaton spoke with Thomas Roberts on MSNBC about the Republican Party's official party platform language, which denounces same-sex couples and affirms a discriminatory view of marriage. Deaton served as a leader for Standing Up for New Hampshire Families last year when a Republican-dominated Congress voted against the repeal of the freedom to marry. Deaton responded directly to the Republican party platform, saying that while the platform is unfortunate, it is not a binding agreement and it does not speak for all Republicans. He told Roberts:
I'm not sure that the platform is really a great indicator on where the Republican party is at on this issue. There's tremendous progress across this country with conservatives. We've seen that there's a lot of people out there who need to have this voice shared: That you can be a conservative and you can support the freedom to marry. I'm just concerned that the platform is a lagging indicator of where the party is on this issue.
Last week, the Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry leadership committee as a whole filed a letter to the Republican National Committee telling them that the new platform is out of step with the majority of Republicans, especially the next generation of the party's leaders. You can read the entire letter here.
But there are a lot of old establishment Republicans who are disappointed, too - people such as San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders who recorded this PSA to be aired several times on Tampa cable news stations during the convention.