Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Republican Media- No. 14

I would call this a "myth" but in the interests of being fair and objective (not "fair and balanced"), I'll resist the temptation.

It began when I was checking out Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey's endorsement of Barack Obama on Scranton's (4/5/08) when I read:

It was 1992 when Bill Clinton was named the Democratic nominee for president and the Democratic National Convention shunned Sen. Bob Casey’s father, the late Gov. Robert P. Casey, who wanted to speak against the party’s pro-choice stance on abortion.

And this from (4/6/08):

His family has had disagreements with the Clintons in the past. In what many of the supporters of Casey's now-deceased father considered a rebuff, then-Gov. Bob Casey Sr. was denied a prime-time speaking role at the 1992 Democratic Convention at which Bill Clinton was nominated. Casey's opposition to abortion, which his son shares, was considered divisive among party activists.

And from the Wall Street Journal's (3/28/08):

His father, former Gov. Bob Casey, is well-known for having been banned from speaking at the 1992 Democratic convention because of his opposition to abortion rights.

From The Caucus (3/28/08), a New York Times blog:

The elder Mr. Casey was strongly against abortion rights and did not approve of Mr. Clinton, who in turn shut Mr. Casey out of the Democratic convention.

Pretty simple explanation, but probably false. In an article (currently unavailable) entitled "Casey Closed" which he wrote for the 9-16-96/9-23-96 issue of The New Republic, Michael Crowley wrote:

According to those who actually doled out the 1992 convention speaking slots, Casey was denied a turn for one simple reason: His refusal to endorse the Clinton-Gore ticket. "It's just not factual!" stammers James Carville, apoplectic over Casey's claims. "You'd have to be idiotic to give a speaking role to a person who hadn't even endorsed you."

And Crowley quotes the late Ron Brown as stating, and later writing in Campaign for President: The Managers Look at '92:

We decided the convention would be totally geared towards the general election campaign, towards promoting one nominee and that everybody who had the microphone would have endorsed our nominee. That was a rule, everybody understood it, from Jesse Jackson to Jerry Brown. The press reported incorrectly that Casey was denied access to the microphone because he was not pro-choice. He was denied accesss to the microphone because he had not endorsed Bill Clinton. I believe that Governor Casey knew that. I had made it clear to everybody. And yet it still got played as if it had to do with some ideological split. It had nothing to do with that.

Crowley notes Casey "was about to retire from politics, and convention speeches are usually allotted to those running for re-election (and) Casey repeatedly bashed Clinton during the primaries, calling Clinton's success 'very tragic,' urging less than three months before the convention 'convention rules provide for the selection of an alternative candidate. Let's pick a winner.'"

Admittedly, Casey was rebuffed in his effort to speak against the platform when it was presented for a vote. According to a conservative website (with a preoccupation with abortion), Casey wrote in his autobiography that he had written Democratic National Committee Chairman Brown "the platform [committee] draft ... has the effect of placing the national party even more squarely within the abortion-on-demand camp. I believe this is a serious mistake for the party and would like the opportunity to present this point of view." He received no response, and contended that he received no response when he later wrote convention chairman Ann Richards. He merely received a copy of a letter sent by the convention's general counsel to its parliamentarian, claiming that, according to platform committee rules, his request was "out of order."

This was a snub. However, except for you, me, and Tim Russert when he's not talking about the Buffalo Bills or Big Russ, virtually no one cares about a party's platform, and not even Tim Russert cares about the procedures of a party's platform committee. And all this has nothing to do with the actual convention, let alone the denial of a speaking slot at the convention to a politician who was hostile to the party's nominee. I doubt that the Repub Party, understandably obsessed with winning elections, would grant a speaking slot at its national convention to someone intent on using it to bash a plank in its platform- even if, unlike in this case, that someone was willing to endorse its nominee.

Yet, somehow, the media uncritically reports that Bob Casey Sr. was denied the right to speak at the 1992 Democratic convention because he was avidly (some would say fanatically) pro-life. It is simplistic, inconsistent with most evidence, and characteristic of the Fourth Estate's habit of blaming the Democratic Party, facts be damned.

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