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Politics, Religion Mix For Readers

Plus: How Not To Cover The Democratic Convention

Dan Bernard, Staff Writer,
August 17, 2000, 1:48 a.m. EDT

E-mail your questions about the conventions to dan@TheCarolinaChannel.comLOS ANGELES -- Now that I am a seasoned veteran of major national political events, I am able to offer the following ...

Tips For Covering National Political Conventions

  • Pack some of your underwear in your carry-on bag in case Northwest Airlines misplaces your suitcase for 48 hours.
  • Buy sunscreen.
  • Buy sunscreen before spending the day outside.
  • While passing through a security checkpoint, try not to look scared.
  • Do not stare at Wolf Blitzer.
  • Free food: Take it.
  • Interviewing other reporters: lame. Writing critical articles about reporters who interview other reporters: legit.
  • If covering a mosh pit at a "Rage Against the Machine" concert, do not wear open-toed footwear.
  • If covering a scuffle between demonstrators and police, do not wear open-toed footwear.
  • Hang onto your eyeglasses.
  • If unable to secure a parking pass for the arena compound, remember that the on-street parking spot that you choose in the daytime will look different in the dark.
  • Keep your receipts.

Now: Your Questions

As the Democrats opened their revival Monday, some of you had religion on your minds.

Leslie Laddaran of the L.A. area e-mailed:

"I am not sure. But if you could explain to me, how could a Christian be a Democrat?
"It is clearly stated biblically about sleeping with the same sex is a sin and about taking someone's life. Abortion is clearly unbiblical.
"Please, I would like to know. This isn't a sarcastic question."
--Respectfully, Leslie Laddaran, D.D.S.
Democratic National Convention

Dr. Laddaran, in view of your profession, perhaps you can show me where in the Bible it says that it's in God's plan for you and your ilk to nag me incessantly about the infrequency of my flossing every time I step foot in that Clinic of Mammon.

Just kidding. OK, the question is how someone can call themselves a Christian and be a member of the Democratic Party. Well ...

  • If he or she wanted to meet your definition of a Christian, he or she could be a Democrat who opposes homosexuality and abortion. The Democratic Party platform this year claims that the party is tolerant of party members who oppose abortion ... although the platform writers were a little snide in saying so:
    "We are proud to put into our platform the very words which Republicans refused to let Bob Dole put into their 1996 platform and which they refused to even consider putting in their platform in 2000: 'While the party remains steadfast in its commitment to advancing its historic principles and ideals, we also recognize that members of our party have deeply held and sometimes differing views on issues of personal conscience like abortion and capital punishment. We view this diversity of views as a source of strength, not as a sign of weakness, and we welcome into our ranks all Americans who may hold differing positions on these and other issues. Recognizing that tolerance is a virtue, we are committed to resolving our differences in a spirit of civility, hope and mutual respect.'"
    Pro-life Democrats would tell you that they still get a lot of guff from the rank and file, but there you have it: The leadership of the Democratic Party gives Democrats permission to oppose abortion.

  • On the other hand, if you believe that same-sex sex is sinful, then the Republican Party is still your best value. When an openly gay congressman addressed the Republican convention, delegates from Texas bowed their heads in prayer/protest, and the gay orientation of Dick Cheney's daughter received only an oblique reference at an off-camera reception for gay Republicans. By contrast, Texas Democratic delegates cheered a lesbian activist and parent who addressed that party's gathering Tuesday.

Sabbath Query

Kirk Cabezas of Los Angeles sent in this query:
"Dear Dan: I am a Seventh-day Adventist, and as you know, we observe the Sabbath as the Jews do. What is Lieberman going to do about keeping the Sabbath during Saturday's campaign rallies? And how do you think Sunday observers will be influenced by this religious difference when voting?"
Actually, I did not know that Seventh-day Adventists observe a Saturday Sabbath. For the sake of readers who are as uninformed as I: Orthodox Jews set certain activities as off limits from sundown Friday through Saturday. Those activities include (and here I'm borrowing from
  • Work, including carrying heavy items or work by servants or "beasts of burden" (including cars)
  • Baking or heavy food preparation
  • Lighting fires for industrial purposes
  • Buying or selling

Reason: so that the observant can devote their full energy to praising God and helping others.

This means that from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, an observant Orthodox Jew such as Lieberman could not drive or be driven in a car, turn lights on or off, talk on the telephone, operate anything powered by electricity or write. No travel and no telephone: Kinda puts a crimp on campaigning.

As to your question: What Lieberman is going to do is ... not campaign on Saturdays. We reported on that in this article. Lieberman has said that he will not campaign or perform other strictly political duties.

But if elected vice president, he said he would perform basic duties such as breaking a tie vote in the Senate or meeting with important dignitaries: "I'd try to schedule them some other time, but if something needed to be done, I'd do it." That quote comes from a fascinating Slate magazine article about how Sabbath rules conflict with political duties. To read the whole piece, click here.

To read a 1998 article recounting how then-Sen. Al Gore let Lieberman stay at his apartment because Lieberman's faith prohibited him from driving home, click here.

As for your second question, will voters of different faiths hold this against Lieberman? Anybody who would vote against someone based on his religion would do so regardless of the fine points of religious practice. And certainly, devout voters of one faith can appreciate devotion in someone from another faith.

Police Joke No. 1

What's the difference between a police officer and a waiter?

The waiter asks when you've had enough pepper.

Not That Kind Of Convention

King Yu of the East San Gabriel Valley near L.A. wanted to join the fun:
"I can go to L.A. on the 60 freeway. Where do I exit to the center? Are there any free parking spaces? I was registered as a Democrat; can I just walk in without any invitation inside the convention?"
Ah, King, perhaps in simpler times a curious civilian like yourself would be able to smooth-talk his way into a party convention. But not in the year 2000 in Los Angeles. This place is a fortress. To enter the grounds of the Staples Center complex, you need a media credential or a pass from the party, then a second pass to get into the Staples Center building.

Even then, you're not guaranteed to get in: In preparations for President Clinton's 9 p.m. speech on Monday, for instance, security managers "locked down" the building at 5:30 p.m. -- nobody in or out until the Prez was done speaking and gone. Then demonstrators got into cat-and-mouse chases with police on the perimeter of the complex, and the authorities locked down the whole arena area. For almost an hour, delegates who wanted to go home were detoured to an out-of-the-way exit on the far side of the convention center.

I'm sure the party will appreciate that you're a registered Democrat. But delegates are granted the honor of going to the big political festival only after an intra-party selection process at local conventions.

Your only hope is to strike up a close friendship with an influential Democratic elected official or campaign contributor. They can get you a V.I.P. pass.

Keynote Speaker Joke No. 1

At their national convention in Philadelphia, Republicans paid tribute to former President Gerald Ford. In Los Angeles, Democrats granted Tuesday's climactic speaking slot to a little-known congressman from Tennessee -- Harold Ford.

Tonight's scheduled speakers include Honald Reagan, Hichard Nixon and Horge W. Bush.

Health Care, Shmealth Care

Uh-oh: Another policy question.

From Wendell Freeman of Ohio:

"What about when you have a Medicaid card, go to a health care provider and are refused service?! I'm not saying just one or two doctors, but hospital emergency rooms for needed care.
"My doctor relayed to me just such a story: Seems a waitress is diagnosed with a serious medical condition; the attending doc says she needs admitting. A consult with a second doctor; he agrees. A first-year resident (who I assume is looking out for 'the bottom line') sees that she has a Medicaid card and refuses her admittance!
"In the small county that I live in, there are no less than 12 columns of the medical profession listed in the phonebook, yet I've only run into one general practitioner that is willing to take my Ohio medical card as payment! And yes, I've tried many of them, to no avail.
"So my main question is: What can be done about a multi-tiered medical system that is losing its compassion in favor of the bottom line?"

Yeah, dude, I feel for you. I've heard that it's difficult to get Medicaid care in rural areas. What's the solution? Danged if I know. Fortunately there are think tanks full of bright people looking at these issues, such as the National Rural Health Association,, (202) 232-6200, Here's a Web page about their Roadmap to a Healthy Rural America campaign.

For immediate assistance in your state, I suggest you try the Ohio Department of Health's Office of Rural Health at (614) 644-8508 or Other states' offices are listed on this Web page.

As for the solution that will make health care affordable for everyone ... um ... well, Bill Bradley and Ted Kennedy both urged the Democratic Party to push for universal health care in their speeches Tuesday. To read Bradley's speech, click here; for Kennedy's, click here.

Variation On Police Joke No. 1

How is Al Gore similar to a waiter?

They both appreciate a big Tipper.

Keep Asking

E-mail your questions about the convention to me at We're here all week.

Editor's note: The author and do not mean to imply that First Lady candidate Tipper Gore is excessively "big." This word was simply necessary for the construction of the joke.

For more campaign coverage from, click here

Copyright 2000 by The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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