Memo To: Howell Raines, Editor, Editorial Page, NYTimes
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: GOP intolerance
Your signed commentary on yesterday's editorial page, "Powell Addresses an Imaginary Party," makes the argument that General Powell only imagines Republicans are tolerant. As a class, you seem to be saying, Republicans are intolerant people. There are of course Republicans who are intolerant, and you and I could easily draw up a list of those we know. But I think you are guilty of imagining things that are nowhere apparent in the convention here in San Diego that both you and I are attending. It could be that because you watched Powell's speech at the Marriott, you were not able to feeI the enthusiasm for Powell that I felt on the convention floor. In fact, there was only polite applause during his speech until he approached his close. It was when he directly confronted the consensus of the convention on abortion and affirmative action, going on to say he appreciated being allowed to address the convention even though he disagreed with the consensus on those issues, that the crowd went wild. It didn't begin at one point in the hall and spread. It was a spontaneous combustion. You had to be there to realize its honesty.
There is a dark side to all of us, even you and I. But it is almost nowhere in evidence in San Diego, excepting here and there some petty remarks about the President and First Lady. The organic body of the convention delegates did, after all come here to nominate Bob Dole, a man whose affinity for the weak, the helpless, the disabled is the nicest thing about him. Then, as the Times has observed, the convention was thoroughly energized by his choice of Jack Kemp as his running mate — easily the most popular Republican in the African-American community and in the Democratic Party. How could it be that this imaginary party is so crazy about the two most tolerant of its leaders? It does not add up, old friend, nor does your column today.
Jesus said that he who is without sin should cast the first stone. There has been in the past an intolerance of Democrats by Republicans, but the reverse is also true. I've come to admire President Clinton for that aspect of his leadership which shows such tolerance. Were all Democrats as tolerant as he, we could then work together to close the divisions in our national family.
cc: General Powell