Bush family values

Mama Bush joins her son in battling Clinton, while new, cuddly convention earns snores.

By Alicia Montgomery
Published August 2, 2000 11:29AM (EDT)

While the Republicans have been protected from Philadelphia demonstrations, George W. Bush is doing a little protesting of his own. According to the Associated Press, Bush is striking back at Bill Clinton for labeling him a daddy's boy. "It's amazing to me that the president of the United States would spend time trying to be a political pundit," Bush snapped. "He's so desperate to have his legacy intact by getting Al Gore elected, he'll say anything, just like Gore will." But Gore's team is using the Bush family protests to back up their argument that the younger Bush is too wet behind the ears. Referring to remarks the former president made earlier this week in defense of his son, Gore spokesman Chris Lehane said of the Texas governor, "He has to send his father out to defend him. People are starting to wonder, does he have what it takes?"

Mama Bush backs her baby
Not to be outdone, former first lady Barbara Bush dug her claws into the Democrats for the Clinton administration's various shenanigans. Reuters reports that Bush called her son the best hope for restoring respect for the presidency. She later pointed her criticism at Gore, warning, "Now we are really getting ballistic." When former President Bush calmly suggested that his wife cool her jets because she might cause political waves, she responded "I don't care."

Black and brown and boring all over
The diversity blitz at the Republican Convention may be new, but not better, according to David Brooks of the Weekly Standard. "This isn't a normal Republican convention," he writes. "This is reparative therapy for Caucasians." While Brooks praises the Republicans for trying something different, he believes that the color-me-conservative parade of speakers distorts the reality of Republican Party membership. The event is "just like at a Utah Jazz basketball game," Brooks argues. "The people in the stands are mostly white, while the people performing down below are mostly black." Brooks also bemoans the absence of partisan rancor enforced by Bush's minions. "As a result," Brooks asserts, "this convention has been so relentlessly cheerful and peaceful it makes a Quaker meeting seem like a Buchanan rally."

Hundreds arrested as protests rage
After days of relatively placid protests, violence erupted between demonstrators and police in Philadelphia streets, resulting in close to 300 arrests. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that trouble began brewing during in the afternoon when demonstrators successfully blocked several city streets. Some protesters began spray painting obscenities on police cars and slashing their tires, and then tangled with the officers themselves. The police reported a handful of injuries, and Police Chief John Timoney himself landed on that list after he rammed his bicycle into protesters who were stomping on a car. "I got banged up," Timoney said. "That's OK. I'll live." Though several protesters left the scene bleeding from cops' baton blows, the police department reported no injuries among the demonstrators in custody.

According to the Associated Press, the march that sparked much of the chaos was a combined call to end the death penalty and free convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal. Protester Jesse Wilson claimed that the police response was excessive. "They could arrest people peacefully for painting on cop cars, but this is an authoritarian state, so they feel the need to beat us," he said. "This is what we want to show the American people." But Patricia Maxey, a member of New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty, disagreed. "If it gets like this again, I'm going home," she said. "I don't want to be beaten up because some idiot in a mask wants to get on television. I came here to talk about injustice."

Mockstitutes storm convention
While the Republican's party went largely undisturbed by the major protest actions, some demonstrators did manage to penetrate First Union Center's intense security to crash the convention. Calling for an end to what they consider political prostitution, vampy protesters Medea Benjamin of Global Exchange and Jessica Parsley dressed up as hookers, infiltrated one convention media pavilion and held an impromptu press conference calling for an end to big money politics. While security forces scrambled to find a quiet way to get rid of the costumed guests, photographers continued to snap pictures of the duo, who fanned themselves with funny money and offered the fake cash to members of the "corporate media." At one point, the demonstrators sat for an interview with Media Bureau Networks as cops went up and down the pavilion aisles in search of them. Eventually, the officers cornered their quarry and hustled them out the door.

Taxing times for Rick Lazio
In a convention press conference, Rick Lazio, New York's Republican Senate candidate, offered no explanation for why he has failed to publicly release copies of his tax returns. "I've only been in the race for two months," Lazio said, smiling as a reporter questioned him. "We gonna get this done by the summertime, believe me." When someone pointed out a few facts for Lazio -- the 90-degree weather, the word "August" printed on newspaper covers -- the Long Island congressman repeated his pledge. "Don't worry, you'll have it by this summer." Which summer?

McCain falls on his sword
The scrappy ex-presidential candidate left conventioneers bewitched, bothered and bewildered with a speech Tuesday night in which he endorsed George W. Bush for president. "I say to all Americans -- Republican, Democrat or Independent -- if you believe America deserves leaders with a purpose more ennobling than expediency and opportunism, then vote for Governor Bush," McCain told the crowd. Though he referred to Bush as "my friend," the senator's tone was more cold and cordial than warm and fuzzy. McCain also sounded a curious note as he concluded his remarks. "I am haunted by the vision of what will be," he said, quoting historian Alexis De Tocqueville. While the speech departed from the happy talk that's characterized most of the convention, the audience did applaud McCain's effort.

Today in Philadelphia:

Speaking at the Republican National Convention:

  • Former wrestler and speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert <br
  • Gov. Jim Gilmore of Virginia
  • Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan
  • Would-be veep, Dick Cheney

    Convention protest:
    The Wages for Housework Campaign highlights gender inequity in worker pay

    Shadow Convention:
    Speakers and panels address poverty and the income gap; Green Party candidate Ralph Nader is scheduled to speak

    Featured celebrity Republican:
    Cuban-American singer Jon Secada

    Poll positions
    Presidential race:

  • Bush 42 to Gore 38 (Reuters/Zogby July 28-30).
  • Bush 44 to Gore 39 (Los Angeles Times July 27-29).
  • Bush 50 to Gore 39 (USA Today/CNN/Gallup July 25-26).
  • Bush 48 to Gore 45 (ABC News/Washington Post July 20-23).
  • Bush 43 to Gore 41 (CBS News July 13-16).
  • Bush 46 to Gore 40 (Fox News July 12-13).
  • Gore 46 to Bush 45 (Newsweek June 29-30).
  • Bush 40 to Gore 39 (Associated Press June 21-25).

    Third-party candidates:

  • Nader 7 to Buchanan 3 (Reuters/Zogby July 28-30).
  • Nader 5 to Buchanan 2 (Los Angeles Times July 27-29).
  • Nader 4 to Buchanan 1 (USA Today/CNN/Gallup July 25-26).
  • Nader 7 to Buchanan 6 (ABC News/Washington Post July 20-23).
  • Nader 4 to Buchanan 4 (CBS News July 14-16).
  • Nader 6 to Buchanan 2 (Newsweek June 29-30).

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  • Alicia Montgomery

    Alicia Montgomery is an associate editor in Salon's Washington bureau.

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