The 2004 Republican National Convention kicks off on Monday with speeches from New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, and Sen. John S. McCain (R-Ariz.).
Conservative commentator Tucker Carlson took your questions and comments live from the convention Monday, Aug. 30 at 11 a.m. ET.
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The transcript follows.
Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.
How have the New Yorkers been treating you? Are people polite, or are you being spat upon? Or both; I suppose people might be spitting on you politely?
Tucker Carlson: Are New Yorkers being polite? Of course not. But I don't take it personally. That's just the way they are. No spitting so far. And the restaurants are terrific.
Question: Will the RNC Represent the Values of the GOP Leadership?
The Democrats have been accused of running a sham convention because greater voice was not given to "anti-war" points of view.
Republicans (based on the speaking schedule this week) are being accused of presenting a pro-abortion and gay-friendly face while the leadership of the GOP and the president pursue a very right-wing (vs. conservative) agenda.
Keeping in mind that over 90 percent of Americans supported the president in Afghanistan and over 70 percent supported him on Iraq: Which convention do you think more accurately represents the base of the party in question?
P.S. --- Thanks, Tucker, for your work on Crossfire and elsewhere. I appreciate your independent thinking and sense of humor; if not your conservative bent.
Tucker Carlson: The Democratic convention was a bit of a sham, in that the vast majority of delegates disagreed with their candidate on Iraq -- the only issue that really matters this year -- but for the most part didn't air their disagreement in public. And you're right that something similar will take place here: most GOP delegates are against legal abortion. Many are evangelicals. Yet you won't see many conservative Christians at the podium, at least in prime time. So both parties are trying to mislead voters, and that bugs me. I I suppose the DNC was slightly more offensive, though, because America needs a real debate on what to do next in Iraq.
What is the working environment like at WETA? Is it hostile or professional? How about at CNN? Are Begala and Carville as annoying off-screen as they are during the foodfights?
Tucker Carlson: Everyone I've dealt with at PBS so far has been great. No one has told me what to say or think. Everyone's polite. If they hate me for my politics, they're keeping it secret. I've been really pleased.
Both Carville and Begala are good guys off camera. We're all having dinner tonight in fact. We almost never talk about politics outside of work, which is fine with me.
From what I can tell, the 200,000 plus protesters against Bush are
overwhelmingly peaceful and well-behaved.
Most Republicans, when asked, stated that the protesters would help Bush, not hurt him. It's not over yet, but that appears to be another "miscalculation".
Tucker Carlson: I don't work for the park service, but 200,000 sounds wildly overstated to me, at least from I've seen. Maybe they're all in Brooklyn. I'd think violence would help Bush, but who knows.
Why do you put "miscaluculation" in quotes?
New York, N.Y.:
What has been the reaction of the delegates to the protests -- bemusement, respect, lack of interest, changing their vote to Kerry...?
Tucker Carlson: I have interviewed any delegates yet but it's hard to imagine that many of them are gong to be won over to Kerry by the protesters, most of whom seem to have multiple piercings. But could be wrong.
Did I read correctly on a blog this morning that you are not going to vote for Bush?
Tucker Carlson: I think the war in Iraq was a major mistake.
Stephen Colbert of the Daily Show recently said in the New York Times that "The conventions are like industrials -- they're sales rallies where politicians say things people have already heard to people who already believe them."
Do you agree? Do the political pundit talkshows have something to offer that is different from the Daily Show?
Tucker Carlson: Of course on both counts. Yes, conventions are phony. Obviously.
And yes news shows, even loud ones, are different from entertainment shows. News shows bring you news.
Did New York City makes sense for the Bush campaign with regard to its culture war strategy? There are few places where he would be more poorly received than New York that are also in close proximity to important states like Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Tucker Carlson: I tend to agree. The sunbelt seems a smarter choice to me for a GOP convention. New Mexico, Arizona, Florida, anywhere in the deep south -- that's what I would have chosen. But unfortunately I'm not in charge.
Do you think there will be as many fascinating hats at the RNC?
Tucker Carlson: Republican delegates tend to be more conventional than their Democratic counterparts, but I have high hopes for this convention. I love funny hats.
Watching the protesters on Sunday, I was impressed with both the peaceful atmosphere of the march as well as wide range of people represented -- old, young, families etc.
What was your reaction?
Do you consider these folks unpatriotic?
Tucker Carlson: Unpatriotic? The left is always accusing the right of accusing the left of being unpatriotic. But with the exception of Ann Coulter, I can't think of a single conservative who's ever used that word in public.
In fact, conservatives I know make a great attempt not to use it. For instance, based on things he has said, I think it's obvious that Michael Moore has contempt for the United States. Yet no one calls him unpatriotic.
The point is, it's a phony argument. Of course I don't consider protesters unpatriotic.
Will we ever get to see you on the Daily Show? I think John Stewart would be up for a good challenge.
Tucker Carlson: I'm pretty sure I'll never be invited. But thanks.
Lincoln Park, Washington, D.C.:
Hello Mr Carlson,
How exactly do conservaties think that gays' marrying will harm heterosexual marriages? In other words, what is the mechanism?
Without a putative mechanism, it's hard to devise an experiment that would prove the conservative's hypothesis. And without any kind of proof or supporting evidence, the hypothesis remains an empty claim.
The bottom line for me: don't just tell me that gay marriage is bad; prove it -- if you can.
Tucker Carlson: Good point. People who say gay marriage will hurt marriage should explain how.
On the other hand, the burden is on the other side I think. Marriage has been around since the begining of recorded history. The idea of gay marriage is about 10 years old. I'd like to know what effect gay marriage will have on children. It's a question worth asking. Why does no one on the pro-gay marriage side seem to care?
Tucker, as much as I disagree with your overtly-Conservative views, I have gained much respect for you after watching/attending Cross-Fire (GW-Alumni). Reading the previous response inquiring about your decision to not vote for Bush in the election (and if that indeed will be the case), my respect for you has skyrocketed! It's nice to see that Conservatives are not afraid to show their displeasure with the way things have been run over the past 4 years. So, any other good candidates out there that interest you (i.e. -- not Kerry, Bush, or Nader)?
Tucker Carlson: Thanks, but my position is hardly courageous. There many conservatives who are vocal about their disappointment with Bush.
But what about the other side? Why do so many anti-war liberals give Kerry a pass when he adopts the Bush view on Iraq, as he has? The amount of team-playing on the left depresses me. Beating Bush is not a priniple.
Who do you really think is in charge of the GOP these days? Is is really the oft-mentioned neocon cabal and fundamentalist christians? Or are moderates having more influence? Are the evangelicals steaming at their apparent lack of exposure at the convention?
What implications does all this kow-towing to the respective bases ("loony left/rabid right") have for democracy? My take is, all this pandering obscures the many good ideas that both parties have.
Tucker Carlson: The evangelicals ought to be mad. The party leadership counts on their votes, but views them with snobbish contempt, hiding them at events like this.
I like the evangelicals. Some of their leaders are corrupt, but as a group they're honest, decent and thoughtful. They're direct. They believe what they say. Unlike a lot of liberals, they don't want to control your life. I don't run into evangelicals very much (I live in Washington) but when I do I'm always pleasantly surprised.
Does ONE political party have ALL the answers; or is it more complicated?
Tucker Carlson: You don't want to get any one group or person too much power.
New York, N.Y.:
On the August 3rd Crossfire, you disagreed with
"Democrats who keep track of racial data more
assiduously than Himmler ever did. I'm totally for
abolishing all of it." Ignoring your disgusting comparison
with a Nazi murderer for a moment, I wonder what you
think of the percentage of RNC delegates and speakers
who are black as compared to the actual representation of
blacks in the GOP. The NY Times reports today that 10%
of Rebpulican convention speakers and 6% of delegates
are black compared to only 2% of Republican voters.
Tucker Carlson: I'm opposed to rewarding or punishing people because of their race. Period. I think it's totally immoral. (I thought this was the lesson of the civil rights movement. Wasn't it?) And I had the same thought as I read the Times in bed this morning at 6:45: how'd the paper get those numbers? From the Republican Party obviously. Where'd the party get the numbers? From the delgates of course.
In other words, the GOP, which opposes racial bean counting, is engaging in racial bean counting. Yuck.
I have read some entertaining passages from
your book about your early days on CNN. It
seems to me that you are not really as
conservative as I thought, and certainly smarter
than the average conservative. Can you really
vote for GWB in good conscience? If so, can you
help a conservative Democrat find one reason to
vote for GWB, as opposed to, say, and empty
Tucker Carlson: I don't know what you consider conservative, but I'm not much of a liberal, as least as the word is currently defined. For instance, I'm utterly opposed to abortion, which I think is horrible and cruel. I think affirmative action is wrong. I'd like to slow immigration pretty dramatically. I hate all nanny-state regulations, such as selt belt laws and smoking bans. I'm not for big government. I think the U.S. ought to hesitate before interveneing abroad. I think these are conservative impulses. So by my criteria, Bush isn't much of a conservative.
I value your independent voice in the conservative sheep herd, but:
Evangelicals don't want to run my life? Are you kidding?
They feel free to opine on all manner of personal decisions from reproductive rights to free speech, etc., and I find them no less eager to run someone else's life than any other group. Only they don't really have the grace or manners to accept that many people just aren't buying what they're selling and they should leave us alone instead of continuing to try and "save" us.
Tucker Carlson: Everyone in politics feels free to opine on other people's personal lives. The question is, who would interfere most? Modern liberals win that award, I'm afraid.
With that, sadly, I've got to split for lunch. Thanks for having me.