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Unconvincing Compassion

Reported by Judy - September 1, 2004 -

Tuesday night was compassion night at the GOP convention, and judging from the reaction of the crowd to speakers trotted out to deliver their lines, showing compassion is not a high priority for Republicans.

Everybody except those who watch Fox News already know that, but the GOP couldn't even do a good job of faking compassion, even for one night.

I watched the PBS convention coverage and it was enlightening since PBS actually covered the speeches instead of using the convention for a backdrop while interviewing the same old bunch of pundits. George P. Bush, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, and Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee tried to sell the idea of compassion but the convention audience barely listened and responded with only tepid applause.

The list of accomplishments that were supposed to prove Bush's compassion was relatively short: No Child Left Behind (which Bush underfunded), the Medicare Prescription Drug Program (which is unpopular with seniors), the highest home ownership level in American history, money to fight AIDS in Africa, and tax cuts. As speakers went through this list, the biggest applause came when Frist mentioned Republican plans to "reform" the medical liability laws to make it harder for people to sue if they receive poor care from a doctor or hospital. The crowded loved that one, partly because Frist attacking the John Kerry's selection of trial lawyer John Edwards for his running mate. "He is the Doctor No of tort reform in America,'' Frist said.

For all their talk of compassion, none of the three dealt much with poverty, homelessness, abused children, the mentally ill, hunger in America, victims of crimes, and all those other Americans who truly need compassion.

Undecided moderates watching at home were unlikely to find the GOP display persuasive. It's a good thing they put up a banner behind the podium that read, "People of Compassion" because it was hard to tell it from the audience reaction.