August 7, 2000
Planta’s Republican Convention Notebook - THE COMMENTARY
By Joseph Planta
VANCOUVER -- Let me indulge in a couple of thoughts on the recent Republican convention in Philadelphia last week and George Dubya’s selection of Dick Cheney as his running mate.
Dick Cheney has always struck me as a most competent leader. Should Mr. Bush, fail to be the leader of the free world, I would, should I be an American, be at ease with Mr. Cheney running the whole show. His work in maintaining the troops during Desert Storm and those times when the “free world” was pitted against Saddam Hussein, were exemplary and while it was fashionable to be over-the-top with catcalls to the enemy, Secretary Cheney was the cool amidst the storm. His speech last Wednesday, accepting the nomination of the GOP as their Veep candidate was direct and blunt, yet was delivered with such ease and restraint that it makes even Jean Chrétien jealous. However, one walks away with two polar opposite of thoughts about the man.
Sure, it’s good he’s got a clear and determined disposition, but Republicans are going to have a hell of a time electing a lackluster of a person. Hopefully, to bend the sentiment of that tired anti-war war-horse, Bob Dylan, “The times, they are a-changin’.” I always thought that one needed an ounce of chutzpah and a couple of balls to do an inkling well in the game of politics.
George W. Bush’s acceptance speech was good. He spoke well and he offered up ideas, rather than just outlining the problems and doing nothing else, when giving a traditional political speech. I thought there was substance behind the fancy platitudes and I thought he appealed directly to the American people. Al Gore will have a hell of a job topping that. Yet, I harken to remember that politics was about momentum, and in a week the Democrats will have all of it.
The big star at the Republican convention was not George Dubya or Condoleza Rice or Colin Powell (who I thought was splendid.) Americans and especially those who trespassed the city of ‘Brotherly Love’, thought the darling of the convention was the 24-year old son of Florida’s governor Jeb Bush and his Mexican-born wife. George P. Bush, was enlisted by his uncle, the governor of the ‘Great State of Texas’, George Dubya, to win over the Mexican; or as the Republicans like to say in true form to political correctness, the Latino vote. One of the media types concluded that George P. was the Republican answer to John F. Kennedy Jr., who around the same age a decade or so ago, addressed the Democratic National Convention.
Whatever the case may be, having George P. on their side will do no disservice to the Republican campaign. Latino voters are hardly inclined to voting for Republicans, but with George P. on side, who knows.
The last thought I have is the sheer undeniable fact the Bush family is a real strength in American politics. Snuffed off, 8 years ago as an ineffective and staid leader, George Herbert Walker Bush (thanks in part to Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky,) is a hero and a great leader. The elder Bush is surveying the scene and looking over a pretty good legacy. Perhaps his legacy was not shaped during his own Presidency or as Reagan’s Vice President, but as he stands waiting to relish in his own library, he’s got great family legs to run on for at least another generation to come.
George P. Bush’s performance last week could signal his entrance into the political fray and it won’t be difficult. Another of his son’s Jeb (P’s dad,) is governor of Florida, which made the former First Lady, Barbara, retort last week that, “1 in 8 Americans is governed by a Bush.” Scary thought, ain’t it?
The most fascinating Bush, was not George Dubya or even George P. It was Neil Bush’s son Pierce. The kid’s only 14 year’s old, but impressed Larry King well enough when he was being interviewed by CNN’s Candy Crowley. Expecting a simple, “Yeah, the convention’s so cool!” she got an over zealous boy who trotted out the campaign line of his uncle, the governor - “Yeah, this convention is so cool! It’s got a great diversity of delegates and it’s a testament of my uncle’s work to uniting this country.” His political know-how reminds of me of a Brian Nguyen. Except unlike Brian, Pierce refuses to take his Ritalin.
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