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Pass : Anonymous (The Republican)

Stealth Republican Sees How Other Half Lives

August 14, 2000

I'm a Republican who lives in San Francisco, a Green Bay Packer fan in the heart of 49er country. I had the only "Matt Fong for Senate" bumper sticker in the UC Berkeley faculty parking lot. I fly United. I liked "The Patriot." And I believe that Sean ought to be the final Survivor.

So I got used to being outnumbered a long time ago.

But when The Times asked me to write about the Democratic National Convention from the perspective of a lone Republican partisan working undercover, I knew that this assignment would almost certainly be the longest and loneliest week of my life.

Call it "Mission Implausible." I was to infiltrate the very heart of the Democratic Party, hear their stories, learn their secrets and tell the world, all without disclosing my secret political identity.

Just like Clark Kent takes off his glasses and combs his hair across, I've been preparing my disguise as well. I ditched my blue Brooks Brothers blazer, tan khakis and pastel Polos for an assortment of black T-shirts, black Armani jackets and black protest armbands. I traded in my Lee Greenwood "Proud to Be an American" eight-track tape for a bunch of Streisand and Sugar Ray DATs. And I stopped shaving.

This would be dangerous, no question. My orders from Bush campaign headquarters in Austin, Texas, were simple: I was given a single cyanide pill to carry with me in case I was discovered. Better to sacrifice myself than give up the details of the Bush Social Security plan to Democratic Party thugs.

But it sounded like a challenge. It would be an unparalleled opportunity to expand my political horizons. It would be a chance to learn the philosophy, the ideologies, the dreams and the heartbreaks of a different culture. It would be a chance to go to Loretta Sanchez's party at the Playboy Mansion; or so I thought.

It's not like I'm coming into this mission totally unprepared. I used to date a girl who was a hard-core Democrat. It might have worked out too, except her parents didn't believe in mixed marriages. And my younger brother, who begged me not to mention him in this article, actually works for Vice President Al Gore. But I haven't seen nearly as much of him since he became a Tibetan monk.

Not only that, I've been listening to NPR to familiarize myself with the key Democratic players. I've been reading Variety to hear about the best Clinton fund-raisers this week. And I've been reading The Times' editorial page to learn how to mouth the party line. (Just kidding, sirs . . . )

There's an old Eddie Murphy skit from the early years of "Saturday Night Live" in which Murphy disguises himself as a white person to ride the bus. As long as there is another African American passenger on the bus, the whites read, talk quietly and generally behave as most people do when using mass transit. (Note to native Angelenos: "Mass transit" is sort of like an airplane, but on the streets instead.) As soon as the African American passenger gets off the bus, however, the whites break out the drinks, turn up the music and start the party, confirming all sorts of Murphy's suspicions about what Caucasians are like when no minorities are around.

Which is sort of the way I'm approaching this assignment. I don't know what Democrats are like without Republicans in the room, but I'm betting that they've got to be more fun than they look like on C-SPAN.

So I've got high hopes. That panel discussion on "Gender Inequity in the Corporate Workplace" with Barbara Boxer and Maxine Waters? I'm betting that the girls from "Coyote Ugly" show up to talk about their tips. Sen. John D. "Jay" Rockefeller IV of West Virginia and Karenna Gore Schiff on the environment? How about the "Baywatch" cast to talk about offshore drilling?

Which brings me to my real reason for doing this. Republicans, of course, have the better issues, the better agenda and the better candidate. And we have more money.

But the Democrats have all the cool celebrities. Ever since Sonny Bono passed on to the great tiki bar in the sky, we've been way outclassed in the fight for Hollywood. Our guys (Heston, Schwarzenegger, Rick Schroeder, Shannen Doherty) could win a bar brawl, but the Dems have just about everyone else. (Sarah Jessica Parker: If you're listening, we'll cut your capital gains tax. I'll see to it personally. . . . )

I've got the mousse. I've got the shades. I've got the saxophone pin. I guess I should be nervous, but it's not like I'm going to be the only Republican in the whole place. Maybe I can get Gray Davis to buy me a drink.


"Anonymous" is a Republican political consultant. His identity will be revealed in a final column--after he is safely out of town.

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