The Republican Convention: A Host of Ironies

Country First: The partisanship and divisive mindset of the Republican party was evident starting with very theme of this convention. The Country First theme automatically implies that the opponents are not patriotic and don’t put their country first. There is also an implied assumption that only the Republicans put their country first. Ironically, despite John McCain’s desire to distant himself from the President, this theme signifies a continuation of the “you are with us or with the enemy” rhetoric of George Bush.

Since America was attacked under George Bush, is it fair to say he wasn’t putting his country first because he failed to protect America from its enemies? Since the US Government couldn’t protect many of its citizens from Katrina does that mean that George Bush did not put his country first? Maybe its time to define and measure patriotism. Ironically, if Al Qaeda were to have a convention today, it would be very believable that the theme would have been “Islam first”.

Change is Coming: After holding the Presidency for eight years and controlling the Congress for 6 years, the Republicans are now promising change! Are we supposed to believe that Senator McCain after 25 years in Washington can actually bring about change? Isn’t that like saying “Just give us another chance?” Ironically, if John McCain was right when he said “Change is coming” it certainly seems improbable that change of any sort can be in the form of another Republican administration.

Sarah Palin’s Speech: After ridiculing Obama for giving good speeches, it is ironical that Republicans are going “gaga” over Sarah Palin after just one good speech (which was well delivered though high on red meat and low on substance)! It will be interesting to see if she can survive the grilling of the media like Senator Obama has for the last two years.

Bi-partisanship: Senator McCain talks about reaching across the aisle after deriding and ridiculing the Democrats and calling them unpatriotic. How can he possibly expect to work together with the “Old, big-spending, Do nothing, me-first crowd!”? After swerving so far to the right it is ironical that he thinks that he can be non-partisan and reach acceptable middle ground with those on the left.

Top of the ticket: When pressed on Sarah Palin’s lack of experience, Republicans push back saying that its the top of the ticket that really counts. While this might be true to a certain extent, with McCain at 72 years of age and not in the best of health, ironically, the VP matters more than it ever did. Claiming to have more experience than a community organizer does not make Sarah Palin better prepared to be President.

The Maverick: Senator McCain had first been called a maverick because he stood up to his party establishment. Most who called him a maverick have long changed their mind about him because he has recast himself as a traditional conservative Republican after cozying up to the extreme right wing of his party. Ironically, he calls himself a maverick these days more than others do!

The Talk about Freedom: Republicans pride themselves as the champions of freedom around the world (“And as we look to the future never let us forget that – when we are at our best – we are the party that expands Freedom”). Unfortunately, with the Republican base in complete control of the party agenda, it is selective freedom at its worst. A woman is not free to choose while a health care system is all about choices driven by the marketplace. The people of Iraq should be free to choose their leaders while the same does not apply to people in Pakistan (until recently), Palestine or Egypt.

The 36 African Americans: That is the total number of African Americans who attended the Republican convention. What is wrong with this picture? One of the two major parties doesn’t even look like America! The rich are there for their tax cuts while the middle class are there for their guns and pro-life stands. Sadly, the rest count for nothing. Not even to make up the numbers in the crowds. It is a clear sign that the Republican party has drifted too far to the right. Ironically, it does not even try to ensure a smattering of people of color on the convention floor.

John McCain: The most glaring and unfortunate irony is none other than John McCain himself. It is well accepted that Islamic terrorism (a term that McCain co-opted from Rudy Guliani) is a manifestation of the extreme right among Muslims in the world.

Assuming for a moment that terrorism is the number one threat facing America and the world today. The argument that  a former POW and seasoned Senator with a strong independent streak can provide the leadership to rid the world of war and make America safer is a powerful one. To reinforce this thought, Senator McCain himself and the Republicans repeatedly reminded Americans of his POW credentials. He talks about how he was changed forever by his POW experience. Yet he (or his fellow Republicans) didn’t consider it worthwhile to mention Guantanamo and torture in his speech. In fact, his VP pick derided Senator Obama for backing rights for prisoners.

It seems clear, that instead of speaking his mind and being truly worthy of his maverick credentials, Senator McCain pandered and sold out to the extreme right wing of his party in his quest for the Presidency. “Politics first” would have been a more appropriate theme for this convention.

After eight years under George Bush does America need another far right administration? If yes, how would this  be any different than George Bush and why would that be a form of “change”?

p.s: I am not recommending that the next President move to the far left. I am just expressing my concerns of the general direction under John MCCain based on the Republican convention.

Author: Pran Kurup

Pran Kurup is founder and CEO of Vitalect, Inc.

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