Future Borgias of America

The New Republic's Franklin Foer reports from this summer's skullduggery-laden College Republican Convention, which elected a South Dakota kid named Paul Gourley, a self-professed "hick" as its new chair. The College Republicans are the great proving ground for made political operatives in the GOP--past presidents include Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, and Jack Abramoff. Foer says his favorite dirty trick involves a plainly forged fax that created a slate of dubiously legitimate Missouri delegates. But for our money, it's hard to beat this one, courtesy of the aw-shucks "hick" Gourley:

The College Republicans sent out their solicitations on the letterhead of such nonexistent groups as "Republican Headquarters 2004" and "Republican Elections Committee." Next, it helps to fill the missives with as much emotion as a Wagnerian opera. "Apparently the Democrats don't have any concern about hurting you, your family or America," one letter read. "Their sole concern is revenge--vengeance--retribution." The most infamous of these missives included an American flag lapel pin. It urged recipients to pray over the pin and return it, along with $1,000. According to the letter, the pin would be worn by the president as he accepted the Republican nomination: "I could have sent you your own lapel pin, but I knew that it wouldn't mean nearly as much to you as being able to give a special gift to President Bush during this challenging time." This letter, incidentally, bore the signature of Paul Gourley. . . Finally, it helps to send these letters to senior citizens, who are lonely and sometimes suffering from dementia. "I don't have any more money," Cecilia Barbier, a 90-year-old retired church council worker and College Republicans contributor, told the Seattle Times. "I'm stopping giving to everybody. That was all my savings that they got." In a single year, Barbier made 300 donations for the organization, adding up to $100,000.

At last, we're beginning to see what they mean by "compassionate conservatism."

Swimming with the Sharks

[TNR; free, but still irritating, registration required]


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