- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 1, 2000


The party platform adopted by the Republican National Convention on its first day yesterday clearly bears George W. Bush's unmistakable imprint of compassionate conservatism. His governing philosophy based on his often-repeated assertion that he is "a different kind of Republican" and a different kind of politician, one who is "a uniter, not a divider" dominates the document.
Gone are many of the criticisms of the Clinton-Gore administration that pervaded the 1996 platform. Gone too are sweeping attacks on government programs. "Government does have a role to play, but as a partner, not a rival to the armies of compassion," the platform says.
This approach has advantages. Too often Democrats have been able to paint the Republicans as, for example, anti-education by pointing to the GOP platform plank calling for the elimination of the federal Department of Education. That plank is gone. Instead the platform calls for folding many education programs into flexible grants, permitting states and localities to qualify by instituting their own accountability standards and prescribing their own exams to measure student progress.
The new platform has softened its tone toward immigration. The 2000 platform drops support for a constitutional amendment that would deny automatic citizenship to children born to illegal immigrants. Nor would it require English to be the nation's "official" language, though English would continue to be recognized as "the nation's common language."
With respect to taxes, the platform backs the Bush plan to permit workers to divert a percentage of their payroll taxes to personal retirement accounts voluntarily. It also supports Mr. Bush's proposals to enact across-the-board tax-rate reductions, double child tax credits, repeal the death tax and more.
On abortion, the Republican Party platform remains unapologetically pro-life, including the addition of a statement condemning partial-birth abortion. "It's left to the Republicans, the heartless Republicans, to care about the unborn," Republican Rep. Henry Hyde declared.
On the foreign policy front, the platform decried the current administration's unrelenting expansion of the nation's "new security agenda," which now includes disease, climate and the seemingly unlimited number of the world's ethnic or religious conflicts. The platform pledged that under a Republican administration, America would "regain its focus." Defense spending would be bolstered, and the nation would deploy the most effective, cost-efficient, anti-missile defense system that technology could provide.
As the party's standard bearer, Mr. Bush has effectively taken control of its message. The fact that virtually all factions of the Republican Party have enthusiastically embraced the platform suggests he has the ability to convince fellow party members to follow his direction.

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