Within the Grand Old Party, Contradictions Abound

From ketchup, to abortion, to invading Iraq, dissent permeates the RNC


| September 2004


NEW YORK -- At the outset, my mission seemed like a tough one. Walking into the Republican National Convention on the very evening that George W. Bush would accept his party's nomination to occupy the saddle for 'Four more years,' I didn't expect to find contradictions and dissent seeping from within the bowels of the party into Madison Square Garden after a week of unified messages.

But there they were around every corner. In the Bell South Media Hospitality Lounge in the basement of the Farley Building, where journalists devoured their fill of hot dogs, chips, cookies, beer, and soda all week, I pointed out to a Republican Party official the brand of ketchup lurking in the condiment tray. HEINZ Tomato Ketchup! 'How did this get past security?' I asked incredulously. Fronting my best Texan dialect, I yelled, 'Don't you know that you are supporting Teresa Heinz Kerry's cash cow?' I reminded him that the woman in question is married to the man whose manhood is being questioned by the politicians upstairs. The Republican returned a blank stair. 'It's just business as usual, sir,' he said.

Yes, indeed. I spent the rest of the evening jotting down names of corporations that helped foot the bill for both the Democratic and the Republican National Conventions.

Later, upstairs, I took advantage of free haircuts and manicures paid for by the Republican Party. Let's see if I can rehash this, prose style:

'A matre'de offered me a Stella Artois as I waited my turn in the barber stool. Ten minutes later the hairdresser (who requested to remain anonymous) gently chided me, and all the other out-of-town journalists, for my uncouth appearance. She told me I wouldn't get far with a lady in Manhattan, or in Europe, looking like that. I thought, 'Can this really be the Republican National Convention?'

I apologized, pulled myself into interview form, and asked what she thought of the hairstyles of America's leading politicians. 'George Bush, he's got to do something about that fuzzy thing he's got on his head,' was her initial reply. 'How about John Kerry?' I prodded. 'For an old man, he's got a good looking hairstyle,' she answered. Later I would learn that, from the hairdressers perspective, Dick Cheney was 'hopeless,' John Edwards was 'gorgeous,' and Donald Rumsfeld was 'definitely not sexy.' I didn't ask about Paul Wolfowitz applying his own hair spit in Fahrenheit 911.






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