LOOK FOR US NEXT TIME YOU LEAVE THE HOUSE. YOU’LL FIND US IN THESE TEXAS LOCATIONS: B. Dalton Barnes & Noble Bookstop Borders And many other retailers across the state To LOCATE AN OBSERVER NEWSSTAND NEAR YOU \(INCLUDING STORES OUTSIDE 512/477-0746. PLEASE LET YOUR LOCAL BOOKSELLER KNOW THAT YOU’D LIKE TO SEE THE GOOD, GRAY TEXAS OBSERVER ON HER SHELVES. MOLLY IVINS WITH MODERATES AND PRO-CHOICE WOMEN TOTALLY DOMINATING THE PODIUM, THE HARD-RIGHT MESSAGE WAS NOT ONLY NOT GETTING OUTIT COULDN’T EVEN BE FOUND. BEHIND THE INFOMERCIAL San Diego When I took Theories of Communication in journalism school, they made us learn about “cognitive dissonance” and “narcotizing dysfunction.” There was a lot of that going around at the Republican convention. As a rather frazzled press corps kept trying to explain all week, the Republican Party on the television screen was not the Republican Party that was here in person \(cognitive dismuch cared, since the Republican Party on television was nice and pretty and they all Texas state Senator John Leedom observed genially on Wednesday that he figures the whole shindig could be cut down to three days: “I think I got the message: less government, lower taxes; less government, lower taxes. OK, can we go home now?” Which just goes to show what a serious old sober-sides Leedom is, because those of us who have studied Theories of Communication realize that the real message of the conThe matter of restoring the American Dream, which seems like a fine idea at first glance, leads to some fairly startling cognitive dissonance of its own. Like, who’s been screwing up the dreaming around here? Do we need professional dream counseling? Dreaming 101? What is it? A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage? In the popular new spirit of interactive media, I invite you to answer these and other questions concerning the restoration of the American Dream, including who, what, where, when, why, how and so what? I’m familied out. Do you know anyone who actually has a Father-Knows-Best family? My own is frequently trying and occasionally a royal pain in the rear. Cogni tive dissonance is the Republican Party going onandonandon about familyfamilyfamily while led by Ronald Reagan \(some Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey, Clarence Thomas, John McCain, Phil Gramm, Governor John Rowland of Connecticut, John Engler of Michigan, Pete Wilson of California and so forth and so on. The Kemps look like a nice family if they’d just calm down a little. Personally, I think that God gave us friends to make up for the families we got stuck with. If George Bush is every woman’s first husband, Elizabeth Dole is every man’s second wifeif he’s lucky. And now on to the speech department. “Plain-spoken” is the new political euphemism for “Our candidate is hopelessly inarticulate.” In an otherwise splendid peroration, Senator John McCain of Arizona deplored “the aimless direction we have endured for four years.” It’s not easy to achieve an aimless direction. Texas’ own Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison was not only having a good hair day but a good speech day as well. Never heard her that tough before. Wow. She goes into a phone booth, rips that Peter Pan collar off her Linz dress and out comes…the old Bob Dole. Dole’s speech reads like a dream, and hearing it while surrounded by cheering Republicans, I thought it was a home run. Then, I saw it again on C-SPAN. Oops. The party that lives by the television screen may also die by the television screen. On behalf of SPAN-heads everywhere, I would like to testify that the Republicans seen on C-SPAN looked like the Republicans on the actual convention floor. This is a sore point with both the Republican Party and the brothers in broadcasting because functionaries from the Republican National Committee were calling the network control booths during the televised speeches, screaming that the nets were showing the wrong kind of Republicans. Then RNC types would recommend a black delegate in Row 46 by the Kentucky standard. As a result, 20 percent of the delegates shown in network reaction shots were black, whereas only 2 percent of the total delegates were black. That someone actually sat down and quantified this phenomenon gives you some idea of how little the media had to do at this clambake. The delegates had been instructed not to speak to the devil-media, so it was kind of hard to get them chatting, except in the bars. However, by the end of the week, a noticeable disenchantment had set in among the hard-right troops \(about twopro-choice women totally dominating the podium, the hard-right message was not only not getting outit couldn’t even be found. “I feel like an unpaid extra in an infomercial,” said a Texas delegate who did not want to be named. While moderatesand-pro-choice-women blathered on endlessly about inclusion and tolerance, the Christian right, which had written them out of the platform entirely, started to feel slightly duped. Molly Ivins, a former Observer editor, is a columnist for the Fort Worth StarTelegram. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19 AUGUST 30, 1996
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