To: Ken Mehlman, Chairman, Republican National Committee
From: Paul Burka, humble blogger
Re: Your mailed invitation to take part in the official CENSUS OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY

I am so glad that you have chosen me as a representative of all Republicans living in my voting district. I am particularly honored that, as you wrote, “Your answers will be used to develop a new BLUEPRINT for the Republican Party for the next 10 years.” I guess you must have noticed that I have been trying to develop such a blueprint for the Texas Republican Party for several years now, but for some reason Governor Perry, Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst, and Speaker Craddick seem not to be paying attention. Frankly, I’m not sure how Republicans in this voting district will feel about having me represent their views, either. They may have read some of those letters to the editor in TEXAS MONTHLY — oh, did I forget to mention that I’m a member of the media? — accusing me of being a liberal. But you wouldn’t have chosen me to represent my fellow citizens if you weren’t well aware that I’m a regular Republican primary voter.

Let me see if I understand how this works: Based on my response, the Republican National Committee plans to print and mail a REPUBLICAN PARTY CENSUS to 5.5 million Republicans so that the RNC can get “a statisically reliable sampling of our Party.” However, “at a cost of $.40 each, our CENSUS OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY will cost the RNC over $2.2 million.” So you want me to enclose, along with my GOP CENSUS DOCUMENT, a contribution of $500, $250, $100, $50, or even $25 to the Republican National committee. Why, the envelope you provided even asks if I’ll use a stamp in the “No Postage Necessary” space. Uh, here’s the problem. I don’t think the boss man would go for my contributing to a political party. He already thinks I’m in the tank for Bush. But perhaps I can help anyway. You know, we have a bunch of rich Republicans down here in Texas. You might try calling James Leininger, of San Antonio. He dropped $2.5 million on Republican candidates in just five legislative races last spring. And he was trying to defeat other Republicans. There’s no telling how much he’d give you for a survey to help beat Democrats. And Bob Perry, the Houston-area homebuilder and funder of the Swift Boat Vets, he contributed $3.8 million in the 2002 election cycle. That would almost pay for two surveys.

But I do want to do my part to help the RNC save money. So I’m going to take the Census Document Questionnaire by e-mail and post it on my blog so that you can find it:

1. Do you support President Bush’s initiatives to promote the safety and security of all Americans?
Absolutely yes. It’s Dick Cheney’s initiatives I’m worried about.

2. Do you support the use of air strikes against any country that offers safe harbor or aid to individuals or organizations committed to further attacks on Americans?
I was going to say yes, but what if the CIA gets a tip that Osama bin Laden is in a hospital in China? Better put me down as undecided.

3. Do you continue to support increasing the amount of security at airports, train stations, and all government buildings including monuments and musems.
I’d answer yes if they’d just let me take my laptop into court.

4. Do you agree with President Bush’s call for a comprehensive approach to immigration reform that secures our borders, meets the Nation’s economic needs and protects the rights of legal immigrants while not unfairly rewarding those who came here unlawfully?
Yes. Too bad the Republican House doesn’t.

1. Should the Inheritance or “Death Tax” be permanently repealed?
Undecided. I’m for repealing it up to a point — say, $10 million. But I’m not for allowing the top 1 percent of the wealthy to become a permanent aristocracy in this country, and neither are a lot of that 1 percent.

2. Do you support President Bush’s pro-growth policies to create more jobs and improve the economy?
Yes. I just hope they start creating more jobs and improving the economy.

3. Do you think Congress should focus on cutting the federal budget deficit by reducing wasteful government spending?
Like earmarks? You bet.

1. Do you support President Bush’s plan to make our schools more accountable to parents and to restore local control of education?
Yes. And I wish he would start right here in Texas, where Republicans seem to have abandoned local control. School districts can’t even decide when they want to start school any more.

2. Should students, teachers, principals and administrators be held to higher standards?
No, I’m for lower standards. Just kidding, Ken, but this is kind of a dumb question.

3. Do you agree that teaching our children to read and increasing literacy rates should be a national priority?
Yes, but let me ask you a question: Does this include the children of illegal immigrants? Because if we don’t include them in Texas, we won’t have a work force in twenty years.

1. Do you support President Bush’s initiative to allow private religious and charitable groups to do more to help those in need?
Yes. I’m for anything that works.

2. Do you support the law, passed by the Republican Congress and signed by President Bush, that bans partial birth abortions?
Yes, I’m for all reasonable restrictions on abortions. But I notice that you didn’t ask whether I favored overturning Roe v. Wade (I don’t.) That was smart, Ken, very smart. The day the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade is the day when the Soccer Moms in the suburbs start to abandon the Republican party.

3. Do you support the President’s efforts to save Social Security for future generations?
The hell with future generations. I want mine next year.

4. Do you think Congress should pass legislation on the Federal Marriage Amendment?
Undecided. I don’t care if Congress passes a statute, but I’m against any amendment that trivializes the Constitution for the political advantage of either party.

1. Do you think U.S. troops should have to serve under United Nations’ commanders?
You mean furriners? Call me undecided, because I haven’t spent ten seconds of my life worrying about this.

2. Do you agree that our top military priority should be fighting terrorists?
No. I think we have beaten al Qaeda, at least to the point where it is only a shell of its evil self. Our true military priority should be, and, I suspect, is, protecting the free flow of oil from the Middle East around the world.

3. Should the U.S. continue work on building a defense shield against nuclear missile attack?
Of course. But I’m much more worried about port security than missile security.

(I see that I have only one section to go, and I keep waiting for some major issues that I care about to appear, but it seems as if whoever planned this survey doesn’t read the papers. Since you have chosen me to speak for all Republicans in my voting district, I have to tell you the truth: I haven’t heard one of them mention the Federal Marriage Amendment. I can’t recall anybody worrying about whether U.S. troops might be under United Nations control. But I do hear a lot of talk about President Bush’s management of the war in Iraq, his veto of the bill allowing more stem cell research, and his domestic surveillance programs. Don’t you care about how I feel about these issues?)

1. Do you support the election of Republican candidates across the country and rebuilding our majorities over the next ten years?
I’m for McCain for president in 08, but I have never been and never will be a straight-ticket voter.

2a. Did you vote in the year 2ooo?
Yes. For Bush.
2b. Did you vote in the year 2002?
Yes. For Perry.
2c. Did you vote in the year 2004?
Yes. For Bush.
2d. Do you intend to vote in the year 2006?
Have you ever heard of Kinky Friedman?