But the most blatant blow-off was to the evangelical Christians who dominate the GOP but are unrepresented on the ticket (Romney is Mormon, Ryan is Catholic). The alleged persecution of Protestants — the war on Christmas and much more that reverberate throughout conservative circles — got considerably less play than did the plight of Catholic employers under ObamaCare, or the soft side of the Latter-Day Saints.

More importantly, homosexuality, "traditional marriage," end-of-life issues, and above all the rights of the unborn were almost entirely banished from the Tampa proceedings. It is hard to exaggerate how extraordinary this is: this is the party that rushed to defend Terri Schiavo, took over for the administration in defending the Defense of Marriage Act, opposed the end of Don't Ask Don't Tell, and threatened to let the world economy collapse over funding of Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood was never mentioned from the RNC stage. The same week, Romney's sister publicly asserted that Mitt would not move to ban abortions as president. I have heard not a peep of protest.

POWER PLAY Republicans who regularly decry closing equity gaps seemed to have gone through an
overnight conversion to the value of affirmative action; over 40 percent of the week's speakers were
female, black, or Hispanic.


Meanwhile, Romney tried desperately to put an inclusive face on the party, knowing that many Americans — even many white male Americans — are not too keen on supporting a party that doesn't have anything remotely close to a cross-section of the country at the table where decisions get made.

The strategy could hardly have been more blatant. By my count, over 40 percent of the week's speakers were female, black, or Hispanic — although they comprise barely over 10 percent of Republican holders of higher office, and two-thirds of RNC delegates were white men. If you don't think this was outright preferential treatment on the basis of gender and race, make a list of the most important members of the Romney gubernatorial administration, and then consider that the two who spoke were Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey and Workforce Development head Jane Edmonds — surely not in anyone's top ten.

Republicans who regularly decry this exact type of gender- and race-based preferential treatment couldn't have been more pleased; they seemed to have gone through an overnight conversion to the value of affirmative action.

All over conservative media and Twitter, they were boasting of the great women and minorities in the party. I reached out, individually over Twitter and Facebook, asking whether any of them were bothered by the gender and race favoritism; none were. State Senator Robert Hedlund professed that the women and minorities chosen "happened to be the best speakers." Massachusetts Tea Party leader Christen Varley somehow saw the charade as evidence that "the trend toward identity politics is fading."

Of course, this was a purely cosmetic makeover, intended to make the party look less like nasty, intolerant white men. No one offered up any positive reasons — even conservative ones — for women, blacks, or Hispanics to consider voting for Republicans, or Romney, other than an improving economy raising all boats.

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