Ross Perot used to talk of a "crazy aunt in the attic" who had to be
hidden. The Republicans have a whole passel of aunts locked up there. They
have much to hide -- Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey, Tom DeLay, Trent Lott and
Henry Hyde, to start with. The Republican Congress is an embarrassment, so
banish its leaders from the podium and from prime time. Forget about their
impeachment effort. That was not yesterday; it was the dark ages. George
W. Bush is too nice to notice any such unpleasantness.

Grope around long enough amid the attic cobwebs, and you might even find
the party's platform. It, too, was drafted only to be consigned to the
upper darkness. Below, all is sweetness and light -- so don't advert to
the fact that the platform inveighs against sex education and does not
allow abortion even for rape, incest or the mother's endangerment.

A new large trunk lugged up into the attic holds Dick Cheney's voting
record. Adverting to it is called a dirty trick. We are supposed to think
of it (if we think of it at all) as equal to Al Gore's congressional
voting record -- though it was not even equal to Newt Gingrich's. Cheney
was to the right. Cheney says Gore was voting the same way he did on guns
-- though Gore never voted to keep plastic guns that elude metal detectors
or to "cop-killer" shrapnel bullets. Gore certainly never voted against Head Start.

The newest addition to the attic furniture is Rick Lazio. The New York
Times reports that the sweetness convention, avoiding the topic of
impeaching Mr. Clinton, did not want to focus on defeating Mrs. Clinton,
so her opponent was offered such an exiguous role to play in Philadelphia
that he turned it down. The excuse was that he had to campaign in New
York, although no campaign events were scheduled at the time.

Come to think of it, even the real George Bush is hidden away in the
attic. Down below, he is the compassionate man whose favorite philosopher
is Jesus. Upstairs lurks the man who kills one prisoner a week (though
Jesus stopped the only execution he is recorded to have seen before his own).

The attic is pretty crowded, since most of the delegates have a surrogate
self up there, too. Below, they reek compassion and say they will leave no
child behind. But in The New York Times poll of the delegates, only 29
percent say they favor special help for minorities. That is behind even the
general Republican voters' stance, since 44 percent of them favor such help.

But why think of these delegates as representing even their own party?
After all, 42 percent of them make more money than the average American.
The Republican Party is not a party of millionaires. But the Republican
convention is. That is why there is so wide a gap between the delegates
and ordinary Republicans on what to do with the budget surplus. Of
Republicans in general, 44 percent want to use it to protect Social
Security, but only 10 percent of the delegates do. They are too rich to
worry about Social Security, which will be small change for them. What
they worry about is the inheritance tax, which can nibble at their big money.

The crazies are keeping so quiet, up in their attic, because they don't
want people to know that a vote for the smiling show will actually be a
vote for the attic crew. If George W. Bush is elected, the attic will
empty out all its crazies, showering them down on Washington. Then Dick
Armey will become visible again, and you won't be able to count all the
children left behind.

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