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TOO, AND THEY HAVE A RIGHT CAL PROCESS. AND TO THOSE ON SEEN NOTHIN’ YET!” “CHRISTIANS ARE AMERICANS, TO GET INVOLVED IN THE POUT! THE LEFT…YOU AIN’T one, but lest there be any doubt, we will never walk away from the innocent sanctity of human life in the mother’s womb.” \(Facing the stage from the back of the amphitheater were a dozen ten-foot tall black-and-white photographs of the same aborted fetus, held aloft eed didn’t stop with the party’s statement of principles on abortion, but went right at his critics. “Christians are Amer ‘cans, too, and they have a right to get involved in the political process. And to those on the leftthe pundits, the prognosticators, the government bureaucrats that would like for us and our voter guides and our phone banks and our precinct walkers and our church coordinators and our energetic grassroots network to just dry up and blow away: if you thought 1994 was something, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” Robertson, in a long digressive sermon that included the history of his life and the ACLU-litigated collapse of the American family and middle class values, reiterated the Christian Coalition’s commitment to the 1996 election. Then, obviously speaking extemporaneously, he promised to help move the Clintons out of, well, Staten Island. “We’re not going to rest,” Robertson said, “until once again *America is that bright shining light set on a hill, when it is considered the hope and freedom of all the nations of the earth, when that Statue of Liberty is once again held high without the stain that has been placed upon it by certain occupants from Arkansas and others who need to go home!” Robertson, CBS news anchor Dan Rather observed later, “walked into the convention hall like a Caesar, like an old-time political boss.” If the Christian Coalition speeches are vetted by lawyers defending against the FEC, it’s not obvious today. \(But who fears the Buchanan the belief that “the cultural war” waged against the Clintons is more important than the Cold War that was waged against the Russians, celebrated every applause line, in particular those dealing with the platform and the ticket. Both, Reed said, “completely affirm the party’s pro-life position.” The platform and the ticket seem to lie at the core of a compromise either explicitly or tacitly negotiated by the party leadership and the party’s large contingent of Christian conservatives. To the party leaders, the Christian right ceded the podium, which allowed the televised version of the convention to appear moderate, multi-ethnic and compassionate. The Christian Coalition, in return, got its platform, which includes for starters strong positions on both a school prayer amendment and an anti-abortion-rights amendment. And despite the occasional public grousing by Christian conservatives on We floor, the leadership understood how this worked. On an afternoon before the convention was called to order, while both Phil Gramm and Dan Quayle, both trolling for reporters, walked through the empty hall and TV crews scouted positions, I asked Dick Weinhold, the chairman of the 120,000-member Texas Christian Coalition, for his take on the convention. “We did our work; the groundwork for this convention was laid in San Anto nio,” Weinhold said. A Dole delegate who defended Kay Bailey Hutchison’s right to serve as delegate when many Christian conservatives at the state convention wanted her barred because she is weak on the abortion issue, Weinhold cited the platform and Dole’s selection of Jack Kemp as big victories for the Christian Coalition. “We came here prepared to fight if we had to, but obviously we didn’t have to. We’re very pleased.” Later that night, in an aisle packed with TV crews and screaming alternates who had managed to get past the monitors instructed to keep the them in their designated section in the back, I asked Tom Pauken, the Texas Party Chair elected by the Christian wing of the party four years ago, for his observations on the convention. Pauken shouted back over the noise of the crowd: “This delegation is pleased with this convention. We’ve written a very conservative platform, and Bob Dole’s selection of Jack Kemp was a home run.” “A home run!” he said again, as he made way for Henry Kissinger, the eye of yet another slow-moving storm of TV camera crews and a few secular Republican fans moving out of the Florida delegation. Kissinger would push his way to the back of the Texas delegation, which at hard stage left could barely see the podium, past the alternate who for the duration of the convention blew up balloons and sailed them over the crowd, past the woman who stood like a Christian stylite holding a poster of an aborted fetus, and into Rhode Island. Behind Kissinger would follow yet another celebrity, Jim Brown, Dan Quayle, or Joanne Kemp, each followed by camera crews elbowing their way through the aisle and back past the tiny Rhode Island delegation. Here on the floor, this was the people’s convention, Buster Brown’s pep rally, where delegates could stand on their chairs and cheer for the seemingly omniscient George W. Bush, for Kay Bailey Hutchison, or even Railroad Commissioner Carole Keeton Rylander, whose “get tough with immigration” speech allowed her to stand in for New York Governor George Pataki. \(Pataki’s insistence on including a line about abortion resulted in his watching Two months earlier in San Antonio, Tom Pauken had described the dilemma facing the Texas party leadership: how to keep the social conservatives and the economic conservatives working in the same party? This convention answered that question on a grand scale. It did so by first making a clear distinction between the party platform and the speakers’ platform, then selling the latter to anyone who would watch it on television. That was what was truly ingenious about this convention. It served Colin Powell and Susan Molinari to the folks back home, fried chicken to the Christians at Embarcadero Park, and Chablis and salmon to the economic conservatives at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. Bob Dole read from a teleprompter, Pat Robertson delivered his sermon at Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park, and Pat Buchanan blustered his way through dozens of small events. But the real deals in San Diego were made sotto voce, and in the end, I’m left with the feeling that the public is going have to pick up the tab for more than just a few stiff drinks at Dick’s. AUGUST 30, 1996 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9