Passionate Conservatism

Karl Rove's Republicans swerve right on the way to the middle

They even not-so'ed before the convention even started. Colin Powell skipped the event, officials claimed, because cabinet secretaries never participate in conventions. Poor Elaine Chao: perhaps she was presented in prime time Wednesday night not for her position as the president's labor secretary, but because she was the only Asian woman they could find?


The not-so's and the nutsos, those coarse threads woven within the skein of "compassionate conservatism": That is the story of this Republican convention. In the home stretch to come—only seven more weeks!—expect more waves of slashing attacks on John Kerry, on John Kerry's wife, even if an animated video shown on the screen at the convention is any indication, John Kerry's dog. The media won't call them on it. Nor will they call them on their habitual indulgence of a grassroots extremism that increasingly borders on mania.

The media didn't call the Republicans on Donnie McClurkin. He came. He sang. He conquered. He was surrounded on the stage by a cloud of singing little children, sitting cross-legged, wearing white, pure and innocent—a semiotic coding unmistakable to that narrow world where millions of people know that Pastor McClurkin has devoted his life to saving children from the cult-like snares of the homosexual recruiters. "The gloves are off," he told the 700 Club. "And if there's going to be a war, there's going to be a war."

The media missed that message.

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