The Corner

Convention Speakers

I’m with Kate, as usual. Jonah notes that the convention planners won’t get good press no matter what they do–which is true, but all the more reason not to let worries about the media have too much influence over planning. If it really is true that spotlighting Pataki et al will win swing voters–more on that in a moment–that’s fine. I don’t think Kate is objecting to Pataki’s being there. But Bush has a problem with the base too, and it should be represented as well.

I think Kate’s criticism touches on a deeper problem with this administration: its unwillingness even to try to win arguments. So often, it appears more interested in getting its legislative agenda through sheer force–twisting enough arms to get the 218th vote in the House–than in persuading anyone that conservative (or conservative-ish) initiatives make sense. Overseas, it has been more interested in saying that we are going to do what we are going to do than in getting people to agree that what we are doing is in the world’s interests. The convention line-up suggests that the Republicans believe that the conservative message could never possibly appeal to the unconverted. It’s a far cry from Reagan’s approach. It reminds me of Rick Brookhiser’s old line about the Republicans: In their hearts, they know they’re wrong.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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