Oklahoma GOP convention notes


Some odds and ends from this weekend:

Gary Jones and Dana Murphy were reelected without opposition to another two year term as chairman and vice chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party. They've both done a great job, demonstrated by electoral success, another well-run convention, and money in the state party's bank. There was some buzz around the convention about Dana running for statewide office next year. Dana came close to winning the Republican nomination for Corporation Commission in 2002, enduring some nasty attacks from fellow Republicans with a Christ-like spirit of forgiveness. Oklahoma would be greatly blessed to have Dana Murphy as an elected official.

The two-year-old Reed Center is a lovely facility for a smaller convention, but it's inexcusable that such a new venue would lack wireless Internet capability. That's going to become a competitive disadvantage, and I hope the folks planning renovation of Tulsa's convention center include WiFi in their plans. It doesn't add that much to the cost, and it's a way to tell tech-savvy exhibitors and convention-goers that you understand their needs.

Arizona Congressman J. D. Hayworth used about half of his Friday night speech to focus on immigration. He said that we embrace legal immigration, but border security is a national security issue. He will object to attaching any sort of illegal immigrant amnesty to the emergency supplemental defense appropriations bill, even if it means voting against the bill.

Tom Coburn focused on fiscal responsibility during his convention speech. He plans to offer amendments to the upcoming $81 billion emergency supplemental appropriation. The supplemental won't go against the spending caps, and $19 billion of that $81 billion is not to be spent until 2008. Must not be much of an emergency, but by including money in the out years, it will allow appropriators to go back later and grab the money for spending this year, without violating any spending caps, since the money has already been authorized. Neat trick! Coburn also said communication about personal retirement accounts has been terrible. Americans aren't being told that this money is still within Social Security, completely voluntary, and a no-risk proposition. He said that Social Security reform was "intended to protect our children from us." Medicare is an even bigger problem, with an unfunded liability equial to the private net worth of the United States.

Tom Cole surprised me with a thoughtful and relatively brief speech. When I think of the Norman congressman, I think of his years as a tough, competitive political operative. It's easy for me to forget that he is, after all, a fellow social and economic conservative. Cole mentioned that he was a student of British history before entering politics, specializing in the Victorians. He said that the Victorians made the modern world, ending slavery, ending aristocracy as a governing principle, and making countless technological and scientific advances. He called Winston Churchill the last great Victorian -- born and first elected to Parliament during her reign. Alluding to Churchill's famously brief "Never give up" speech, he reviewed the history of the Republican Party, saying after the electoral disasters of 1964, 1974, and 1992, people like the delegates never, never gave up. Cole was (as far as I heard) the only speaker to mention Terri Schiavo, saying how proud he was of Tom DeLay and congressional Republicans for showing leadership by addressing her situation, without anything to gain politically by taking it up. Cole noted that not a single Senate Democrat was willing to take to the floor to defend their efforts to block legislation to help Terri.

Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony reviewed the long history of Oklahoma Republicans standing up for public integrity and for open and honest government -- against the good ol' boy system, against the bribery of Supreme Court justices in the '50s and '60s, against bribery in the 1980s County Commission scandal, against stolen elections, against special deals for special people, against decisions made in smoke-filled rooms. Regarding stolen elections, he mentioned a 1960 congressional race in northwestern Oklahoma, when strange doings in a recount led to a Republican defeat. Unfortunately, Tulsans know that not all elected officials who call themselves Republicans share Commissioner Anthony's commitment to openness and serving the public interest rather than special interests. After the speech, someone reminded me of the attacks Commissioner Anthony suffered when he was first elected to the body that regulates public utilities -- slashed tires and death threats. In light of that no one should be surprised at the heat being thrown at the reformers in Tulsa.

The convention ended about 3:40 p.m., the earliest in my memory. The afternoon speakers had mercy on the audience, which began to drift away after the vote to reelect the chairman and vice chairman.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on April 17, 2005 11:09 PM.

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