Tell me that before this past Monday you not only knew who Guy Vander Jagt was but how to spell his name, too. Tell me that Susan Anton is destined to be the next Katherine Hepburn. But do not try to pretend for half an invocation that the 1980 Republican platform is your run-of-the-mill, right-wing-nut document.
Boiled down to its essentials, this platform does not lay a hand on the New Deal. Abolishing the 55mph speed limit? Big deal. What about abolishing the income tax? Build a new and better bomber? By now in an election year, every liberal Senate incumbent must have done the same thing, even those who voted against the B1.
Nowhere in its 78 printed pages does the 1980 platform even once suggest getting the U.S. out of the U.N. What about fluoridation? The Republicans ducked the whole fluoride issue and chickened out on any mention of the conspiracy to make us all one-worlders through our own faucets. Sort of playing taps through or taps, if you get the drip.
Who are these faceless mealy-months who, obviously gun-shy after Nixon troubles, do not in 40,000 words call for the impeachment of a single sitting federal judge? How about Impeach William Brennan or Unleashing Chiang along with a little straight talk about the strategic importance of Quemoy and Matsu?
This platform must have been written by parlor patriots and ratified by fellow- travelers of the Middle. That's the only conclusion available to anyone who knows an authentic right-wing tract when he sees one.
For someone attending his very first Republican National Convention, undoubtedly the biggest disappointment has been the severe shortage, if not total absence, of the legendary Blue Hair, which was supposed to crown all senior Republican women. Blond instead is the dominant hue. And as for all the ancient slanders about "little old ladies in tennis shoes," forget it. This convention looks like the merger of Lilly Putizer and Talbot's.
As for Republican men, one fashion item demands an explanation: how can sensible, serious, practical guys -- the kind who have met a payroll and who know thre is no such thing as a free brunch -- how can so many of them wear summer suits with vests? That has to be the definition of counterproductive.
The absolute absence of any labor-baiting at this convention shows just how far the influence of Rep. Jack Kemp and his philosphical allies has moved what has been almost forever regarded as the party of Big Business. In fact, if Ronald Reagan, six times president of the Screen Actors Guild, were to select Jack Kemp, former president of the American Football Players Association, as his running mate, the Grand Old Party would head into the general election with a ticket composed of two former labor union presidents. It certainly seems, after one week in Detroit, that some Republicans here are striving mightily to become not the party of the Fortune 500, but rather the party of the Daytona 500.
That Republican platform may very well upset tradition and survive into the general election campaign's issue. One potentially soft spot for the Republicans in the 1980 platform is the Paul Revere section on the Soviet "present danger," which "is greater than ever before in the 200-year history of the United States." That is a very sobering diagnosis of the national condition. But when it comes to the matter of meeting this threat, the platform, among other matters, states: "The Republican Party is not prepared to accept a peacetime draft at this time." In place of a draft, the Republicans do want an MX system, cruise missiles, a new bomber -- and more than one -- submarines, carriers and airplanes. Now you might ask, if you wanted to be a pain in the neck, who is going to run all this fancy hardware, this needed defense equipment? According to the 1980 Detroit platform, the All-Volunteer Force is now a 'shambles."
Remember that while you cannot "throw money" at those old social problems, apparently you can do so at military personnel problems. The Republicans urge for members of the all-volunteer service: increases in pay, increases in reenlistment bonuses, increases in per diem allowances and just about everything else except profit-sharing and company cars.
If you start adding up all the numbers, sometime around the first year of the second Reagan administration, an Army staff sergeant will be earning a little more than Reggie Jackson and a little less than Henry Ford. That's may be okay on the basis of public value and other salient considerations. But some cynic will almost certainly ask, if the "present danger" is as bad as the platform tells us it is, why is this the time for "Checkbook Patriotism?"
To show the Soviets we mean busniess, Don't we need more than nuclear canteens and larger Christmas bonuses for the Coast Guard? Is not this the time to reinstate the draft, without college deferments, and eliminate the "shambles" of the All-Volunteer Force?