July 13, 2004
In Search of the Republican Oath, Part 2I still haven't found out who wrote the Oath originally. Out of curiosity I attended the monthly meeting of the San Diego County Republican Party last night. My hope was to understand the Republican mindset better: who attended these meetings? What were the talking points? How close to the spirit of the Oath were they? How much "liberal bashing" went on --- was it going to be like Fox News?
A Prayer and a Pledge
The meeting began with a prayer, asking God for guidance to watch over the proceedings and get Bush re-elected. Did I hear right? It sounded like the prayer ended with a mumbled "in Jesus' name" slipped in before the "Amen." Then everyone was asked to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, and they all stood facing the gold-frilled flag which hung on its pole along the left end of the wall behind the podium.
Darrel Issa's in Da House!
I've never seen this clap-one-time technique used before --- I suspect it comes from sales meetings or football team pep rallies or church groups or something. Don't know. But it was very powerful and effective at getting everyone focused, in sync, and charged up. Politics is about people, after all, and people like to hear their names mentioned. Nehring was very effective at mentioning as many names as possible. I got a sense that this is a group where every member feels they belong.
The Sit Room
Nehring described the Kerry-Edwards ticket as an "axis of liberalism". Over the course of the evening, the word "liberal" was used more than "Democrat", and both were always used as a pejorative. (I continue to wonder though: much of the Oath is quite Liberal, is it not? The Quest continues....)
Invoking His Name
Reagan's name would be invoked numerous times during the evening --- always in tones of admiration and respect. Whereas Bush's name was never really mentioned in terms of admiration and respect, it seemed more like just an automatic, party-loyalty thing kicking in, as in "We're going to re-elect George W Bush" (applause) or "four more years" (applause) or "when we win in November" (applause). I didn't get a sense that this is a group especially proud of Bush or his Administration, but only because they never indicated so.
Reagan's name was mentioned about the same number of times as Barbara Boxer. Of course, in different terms. With Boxer, the phrasing was usually along the lines of "send Boxer packing" or "send Boxer back to Brooklyn". Um, this is a group of people who do not like Barbara Boxer.
Pursuing His Dream
That seemed awfully odd. Think about it. It's July. 2004. An election year. An election that will be one of the most important, maybe the most important, American presidential election in decades. California is still strongly Democratic, and will most likely give its electoral votes to Kerry in November. The Republicans in California have a huge amount of work to do. And this guy, the executive director of the Party, picks this time to go off and write a novel (called The Monaco Affair if I heard correctly)!?!?!?
Doesn't sound right. Maybe it's true, but I'm going to assume "follow dream of writing my novel" is SD Repub code for "wanted to spend time with his family" a la George Tenet.
There were numerous mentions of the fact that Holstein's replacement was going to be mentioned but I didn't catch it. Unless the guy they introduced as the new "Chief Operating Officer" of the San Diego County GOP, whose previous post was chairman of the Merced County Rep Party, was in fact the replacement. It wasn't clear.
Gimme Money (That's What I want)
Keith Carlson, who has some larger role in the California GOP, then spoke some more about finances. It was a recurring theme throughout the evening. Money. Money. Money. He said that June statistics in San Diego County showed a .4% drop in registered Democrats, while there was a 2.65% increase in Republicans. That brought a cheer to the audience. He spoke about GOP county-level financial support and how it's been increasing in the past few election seasons. While he skirted "mentioning numbers", instead indicating how many quarter-million-dollar houses you could buy, he described a dramatic rise in monies for San Diego County, from around $100k for 2000, to $750k for 2002, and already $750k with only 6 months of 2004 elapsed, and more money to come before the end of the year.
A Serious Performance
The Performance Institute guy forcefully read off (at times I thought a little too angrily read off) a list of ten recommendations (see the list here at their own site). Most of them got warm, if not loud and immediate, applause. The recommendations reminded me of the Republican Oath. The emphasis was on fiscal responsibility, balanced budgets, and cutting wasteful spending. All fairly reasonable at first glance. I was surprised to hear the ninth recommendation: "Reduce Corporate Welfare and Subsidies to Special Interests." Wouldn't such a recommendation be fightin' words to a Republican organization? I mean, the tax breaks that American corporations get are astounding. From the gathered audience there was no applause after he read that recommendation. The room was so quiet, you could hear a cricket chirp, if indeed there'd been any crickets present (I guess all San Diego crickets are liberals because I didn't hear any).
Securing the Homeland
They spoke earnestly of the many "task forces" and programs in place since 9/11 to prevent terrorist attacks in San Diego. Dumanis spoke about how the unparalleled-anywhere-in-the-world American spirit was not diminished after 9/11, and she encouraged the audience to "show it again when we re-elect George Bush". The audience applauded.
Chris Meyer of the FBI alluded to the single-clap phenomenon I mentioned earlier when he got up to speak. I guess it was a first for him as well. He quipped something about that was one more clap than he got from the Democratic Central Committee when he'd met with them.
He spent a lot of his talk expressing frustration at the alleged misinformation being printed and publicised about the PATRIOT Act. First, he said, this ignorance was coming from the secondary or lesser-known papers, but now it was happening in "reputable papers like the New York Times, LA Times, and Washington Post." Before he'd finished his sentence, the audience was howling. One person yelled out "Reputable!?" He didn't mention Fox, I noticed.
He challenged the audience to find a single example of a violation of civil liberties in the PATRIOT Act, and if anyone did, "have them call me," he said.
Tonight, July 13th, it turns out, is the monthly meeting of the San Diego Democratic Party's central committee. I was hoping to go, to compare and contrast how things work with this GOP meeting. But it's not open to the public. "It's a business meeting," I was told when I called the party headquarters in San Diego. I asked if there were any monthly all-hands meetings for Democrats or people curious about the Democratic Party in San Diego. There are none. You've got Meetups and local Clubs and that's about it.
No single-clap all-hands group sessions for the Dems I guess.
Maybe they ought to start one?
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