When it comes to David Miller, the Kansas media
often find it difficult to get the story right.
For example, after Bob Dole and Phil Gramm tied
for first place in the 1995 Iowa straw poll, The
Hutchinson News editorialized that Dole’s “failure
in Iowa sits squarely on the shoulders of David
Miller,” who was then chairman of the Kansas GOP.
This editorial concluded that the Kansas GOP
“should give David Miller the boot.”
Apparently, The Hutchinson News missed Bob Dole’s
appearance on CBS’s Face the Nation. “We’re going
to save our resources for the main event next
February,” Dole told the moderator. By “main
event,” Dole was referring to the 1996 Iowa
caucuses. If Dole considered the Iowa straw poll
insignificant, why was Miller expected to, in the
words of The Hutchinson News, “communicate how
important this vote was for Dole”?
Since Miller announced on May 5 that he would run
for governor, it looks as if the Kansas media have
been in a race to see who can print the most inane
comments regarding Miller and conservative
Republicans. Below are merely a few examples:
• “David Miller is going to devote the next
three months of his life to the proposition that
democracy doesn’t work.” - George Pyle, Salina
According to Pyle, the “anti-abortion, anti-tax,
pro-gun minority of Kansas Republicans [Miller]
speaks for can be expected to go to the polls Aug.
4, while the more moderate majority that makes up
the base of Gov. Bill Graves may forget to pencil
the election into their busy schedules.”
A 1996 Kansas City Star survey found that exactly
50 percent of Kansans believe abortion should be
illegal except in cases of rape, incest and saving
the life of the mother. According to this year’s
Kansas Survey, “A proposed ban on partial-birth
abortion was supported by seven out of ten”
Kansans. The Kansas Survey also found that
“Kansans want tax cuts.” And guns? In 1996
Lawrence Research found that 61 percent of Kansans
favor a law allowing law-abiding citizens to carry
a firearm for personal protection outside of their
Now, if a majority of all Kansans favor
restrictions on abortion, want tax cuts, and
believe law-abiding Kansans should be allowed to
carry firearms, is it possible that
“anti-abortion, anti-tax, pro-gun” Republicans
make up a minority of the GOP? As Dan Rather would
put it, that’s about as likely as a one-ended
• “Conservative Republicans believe that the
term ‘conservative Republican’ is redundant. They
say that Republican means conservative, that a
Republican who says he is not conservative is not
a Republican.” - Jim Hitch, Hays Daily News.
I asked Hitch if he could name a conservative
Republican who actually made such a statement.
Speaker of the House Tim Shallenburger, R-Baxter
Springs, was his response. During a recent
interview with Shallenburger, Hitch claims that
the Speaker “characterized moderate Republicans as
fence straddlers and said that in reality, some of
them may even be Democrats.” Some of them may even
be Democrats? That’s quite a bit different from
saying that a Republican who says he is not
conservative is not a Republican.
While Hitch’s example fell short of demonstrating
his original assertion, we do have plenty of
examples of moderates questioning the legitimacy
of conservative Republicans. Sen. Dick Bond,
R-Overland Park, himself said Miller could be
elected governor if the “regular Republicans”
don’t vote. “Right now there are the David Miller
Republicans, and the rest of the Republicans,”
writes the Topeka Capital-Journal’s Dick Snider.
“That, after all, it why Miller is the chairman of
Graves’ party,” notes George Pyle. (My emphasis)
• “A more moderate GOP also would motivate
disaffected GOP bigwigs to reopen their checkbooks
for the party. Under social conservatives,
official politicking has been a small-budget
operation—though successful just the same because
of the political zeal of social conservatives.” -
Denney Clements, Wichita Eagle.
Excuse me if I’m mistaken, but haven’t liberals
such as Clements been pushing campaign-finance
reform in order to limit the involvement of big
• “Since Statehood, Kansans have elected
governors, both Republican and Democratic, who try
to run state programs efficiently while holding
the line on taxes—and who leave moral improvement
to the clergy,” - Denney Clements, Wichita Eagle.
This isn’t quite true. “If we fail in building
character, democracy will fail,” said Kansas Gov.
Alf Landon. “And if democracy fails, free religion
and a free church, as we know them, are gone too.”
By “character,” the moderate Republican surely
meant “the combined moral or ethical structure of
a person or group.” Landon, who was not a member
of the clergy, was essentially echoing Abraham
Lincoln’s contention that “Democracy must be based
not on ‘mere’ opinion but on ‘moral purpose.’”
• “Graves has proved that he can compromise.” -
Jim Hitch, Hays Daily News.
Hitch assumes that compromise is a virtue. That’s
not always the case. For example, the Missouri
Compromise of 1820 stated that the number of free
states and slave states must remain equal. Is a
“moderate” amount of slavery virtuous?
“Important principles may and must be
inflexible,” Lincoln told an audience just days
before his assassination. It was Lincoln’s
inflexibility on the moral issue of slavery that
led to the demise of that evil institution (and,
regretfully, his own death).
The above are merely a few examples of how the
mainstream media are distorting the truth about
David Miller and other conservative Republicans.
Sadly, as the Aug. 4 primary election grows
nearer, their statements are likely to become even
further removed from the truth.