Upbeat Republicans Revive Bush Theme of Compassion

From an article by Todd S. Purdum, New York Times September 1, 2004

...The Republican National Convention circled back last night to President Bush's winning 2000 campaign theme of 'compassionate conservatism,' portraying him as not only hardheaded but also bighearted enough to lead 'the most historic
struggle my generation has ever known,' as his wife, Laura, put it in a prime-time speech.

I'd wondered what ever happened to "compassionate conservatism." I guess it was an idea so wonderful you had to save it in a dark cabinet, sort of like the 50-year-old Scotch you never open or taste, but only take out once every four years to impress strangers by showing them the label.

Laura Bush, who always reminds me of a plush toy that talks, gave a smiling speech, looking as if she'd been botox'd from chin to brow. If she'd had just a bit more in the emotional expression department, she might have been able to work her way up to becoming a Stepford Wife.

As the evening wore on, Arnold Schwarzenegger, making one of the shrewdest moves of his career (jumping from the big screen to politics -- "Show business for ugly people" -- as his face began to crater with age, looking more and more like a grinning rictus mask with like two orange caterpillars facing off against each other on his forehead) actually impressed me as an actor for the first time in his career when he said:

"In this country, it doesn't make any difference where you were born. It doesn't make any difference who your parents were."

He was able to say that with a straight face even while looking across the room to the Bush family sitting with his Kennedy wife.

(Of course the fact that he was the son of a Nazi-era cop in Austria, and that both the Bush and the Kennedy families made a great deal of their fortunes buddying up to Hitler, might have helped where even his hard work, beefcake body and smarts might not have been enough.)

There was more, but by that time, the nausea was rising and I felt, as they say in Texas, "I've enjoyed about as much of this as I can stand," and opted for a movie on HBO.

The nausea took so long to pass, I missed the twins, a pair of throughly unappealing young women who didn't need to say a word to prove the Schwarzenegger comment about parentage was a big, hot, steaming load of not-truth. Unfortunately for all, they chose to say words.

Well, so what -- it's their party and they can lie if they want to.

(An aside -- I was tending a friend's bookstore one day back during the California recall, and the owner, to be topical, had put several of Arnold's body-building books in the window. A customer came in, pointed to the books, and said: "You go through all that pain and sweating and dedication and putting everything else in you life aside from burgers to dating ... and all you get is Maria Shriver? Fuck that.")


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