Conservatives Push "Punitive Measures" on Immigration in Platform

"Conservative-beat" reporter David Kirkpatrick's label-happyways were on display in his front-page story from the Republican Convention in St. Paul on Wednesday. "Wooing Conservatives Pays Off"detailed John McCain's struggle to appeal to the Republican base. Kirkpatrick used the word "conservative" seventeen times (not including quoted material) in his 1,100-word story, outnumbering even the conjunction "and," which under the same criteria appeared a mere 13 times!

One has to love the choice of photo for the online version, which captures an attempt by an anti-war protestor to upstage conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly at a pro-life event. Kirkpatrick accused Schlafly of making the party platform more "punitive" against illegal immigrants, without managing to actually use the word "illegal."

The McCain campaign has spent months trying to shore up support among religious conservatives, who have long viewed him as a nemesis....he has abandoned previous calls to moderate the Republican platform's support for a ban on abortion without exception. Instead, he allowed conservative organizers like Phyllis Schlafly to shape what many advocates say is the most conservative platform in the party's history. At Ms. Schlafly's behest, for example, the party approved an immigration plank calling for new laws to speed widespread deportations and other punitive measures at odds with Mr. McCain's stance on one of his signature issues.

To make up for a history of conflict with the Christian conservative wing of his party, Mr. McCain has in some ways gone further than Mr. Bush to reassure the right of his intentions, even at the risk of spooking more moderate voters.

The Times wasn't as interested when the Democratic Party shifted the planks of its platform to the left. A Michael Powell story briefly mentioned the Democratic platform had altered its abortion language from the Clinton-era standard of "safe, legal and rare" to "safe and legal abortion,"something Powell called a "subtle leftward shift." Yet the Times devoted a full story to the abortion plank in the Republican platform; "G.O.P. Holds to Firm Stance on Abortion."