Group Hug in Philly

In which our man Durst hits the ground in the City of Brotherly Love, and finds a virtual conservative be-in.

| Mon Jul. 31, 2000 2:00 AM EDT

You, like me, might be curious as to why the Republicans picked Philadelphia as the site for their Millennium Convention, considering that this city sits a little to the left of Fidel Castro. But remember that this is "The City of Brotherly Love," and it all becomes as clear as a Tanqueray bottle at the bottom of a kidney-shaped swimming pool: Love is exactly what you're going to hear spewed, firehose-like, from the podium at the First Union Center all week.

Love and peace and brotherhood. Not one tiny little word about abortion -- even though the party's platform still calls for a constitutional amendment outlawing it. Cultural warriors need not apply, even though Lynne Cheney makes Marilyn Quayle look like Mister Rogers' benign third-grade sister with pigtails. No sir, not this time around. It's all going to be sunshine and seashells and balloons. Red, white, and blue of course.

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You're going to hear so much harmony, you'd not be faulted for thinking the presumptive ticket was Simon and Garfunkel. If Reagan's nomination theme was "Morning In America," George W. Bush's is going to be "Waking Up After A Nap On The Beach With Two Cold Beers in Your Hands in America."

Surprise, surprise, but as it turns out, Bush isn't really a Republican. No, no, no. That was all just a misunderstanding. He's just a guy who happens to belong to the Republican Party. And Dick Cheney? Not a Republican either, he. That whole anti-ERA vote? It was his sleepless nights spent worrying about women who would be drafted which caused him to take such a compassionate stance. And sure, he voted against the clean water bill and opposed recommending the release of Nelson Mandela. And perhaps he did vote against bills designed to outlaw "cop killer" bullets and the manufacture of plastic guns able to defy metal detectors.

But Cheney's not really a traditional Republican either. See, those were the 1980s. A different time altogether. And he represented Wyoming for crum's sake. What did you expect? Him to vote his conscience? He can do that now. Thank God he had the opportunity to go through that extended public learning period. Not to denigrate George W.'s experience, or lack thereof. At least he doesn't have to unlearn bad habits. Not that Cheney has any.

Anyhow, with the way these two Texas oil men have orchestrated their hap-hap-happy-talk convention, full of MTV-meets-Disney, short-attention-span politics with puppies wearing crocheted sweaters, I'm nominating as theme song that old Western classic:

Home, home on the range
Where the deer and the antelope play
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day.

Only problem? Local forecast is for heavy thunderstorms to continue all week.