PARTY ON.... John Dickerson had an item last night about the curtailed Republican National Convention, and the party's efforts to scale back what was supposed to be quite a soiree. "The vast roster of fundraisers in town has been put to work raising money for the relief effort," Slate's Dickerson wrote. "The party atmosphere has been redirected. The Distilled Spirits Council, aka the booze lobby, has turned its Monday party into a fundraiser for the Red Cross."
It all sounds rather gracious, but to think Republicans have taken a completely sober attitude about events along the Gulf Coast seems to be a wild exaggeration.
As residents of New Orleans were fleeing Hurricane Gustav, top Republican party officials donned pink boas and swigged vodka shots at a wild whirl of corporate and lobbyist-paid parties this weekend in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Many corporate sponsors and their lobbyists carried through with plans for lavish entertainment of GOP lawmakers and others despite calls from the campaign of Sen. John McCain that Republicans should tone down the convention festivities. [...]
[L]ast night lobbyists for the National Rifle Association, Lockheed Martin and the American Trucking Association put on a raucus six-hour party at a downtown bar featuring music by the band "Hookers and Blow." There was no evidence of any actual prostitutes or cocaine.
What a relief.
House Deputy Whip Bill Shuster (R-Penn.) said he was praying for the people of the Gulf coast, but saw no need to curtail corporate parties. Wisconsin delegate Jeff Larson agreed, telling ABC News, "Everyone goes through hard times."
ABC also described another gathering "where waiters wore pink wigs and guests danced through the night as they wrapped themselves and their partners with pink boas." Asked about the appropriateness of the gathering, one Republican guest "hid his face from cameras, wrapping a pink boa around his eyes and nose."
To be fair, I don't doubt that there were similar soirees during the Democratic convention. Where powerful lawmakers gather, lobbyists, corporate interests, and lavish parties are soon to follow.
The difference, though, is that Republicans are being credited for "redirecting" the "party atmosphere," as part of a serious and sober reaction to a looming natural disaster. If the ABC News report is accurate, that doesn't appear to be the case.