As the Republican National Convention kicks off this week in New York City, the GOP is doing everything it can to hide the far-right conservatism that has gripped the party over the last four years. The key prime time speakers include Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), a serious critic of the president who has repeatedly broken with the White House, and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Gov. George Pataki, who have split with their party on critical social issues. But as the St. Petersburg Times editorial board notes, "the moderate face the Bush convention presents to a national television audience will be cosmetic, and voters should not be fooled." In truth, as the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram points out, "Republicans [are] working to reinforce their conservative base," utilizing everything from right-wing radio to invasive requests to churches to fire up the most extreme elements of the party.
Pataki has touted himself as a moderate and potential 2008 presidential contender, but a look at his recent behavior shows how closely aligned with the far right he really is. Late last month, he vetoed a bill raising New York’s minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.15 by 2007 – a small increase over three years. The bill was so mainstream, it passed the 212-member state legislature with only 26 lawmakers dissenting. Currently, a strong majority of Americans support raising the minimum wage.
Many are wondering where Sen. John McCain’s principled leadership against GOP extremism is. The senator has broken with the White House on "a roster of key domestic issues," including "tax cuts, stem cell research, global warming and gay marriage, among others." McCain has also demanded the White House end the smear campaign its Texas cronies are financing against Sen. John Kerry’s war record. As McCain noted, the tactics reflected "the same kind of deal that was pulled on me [by the Bush campaign in 2000]." The White House, however, has refused to disavow the ads, with First Lady Laura Bush offering a tacit endorsement of them in a new Time magazine interview.