Compassion Across America

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Compassion Across America is a community volunteering campaign launched by the Republican Party on July 22nd 2004 [1]. The start of the 'campaign' appeared to be timed to act as a spoiler to the opening of the Democratic National Convention in Boston, as it began on the same weekend.

In a July 24th Reno Gazette-Journal article, Republican National Convention spokeswoman Nicol Andrews confirmed the motivation behind the timing: "We wanted to contrast the negativity that is embodied in what's coming out of Boston by doing something that reflects the president's call to service and his positive vision for America" [2].

Republicans Will Feed the Hungry

According to the New York Times, Compassion Across America promised a public relations bullseye for the Republican National Convention in August/September: "Here is a television image that organizers of the Republican National Convention are fantasizing about: Protesters clog the area around Madison Square Garden, inconveniencing commuters and being arrested. Cameras pan to Republican delegates feeding the homeless in the Bronx, packing up supplies for Iraqi schoolchildren, passing time with poor children in a Staten Island day camp." [3]

But the campaign was also designed to draw attention away from the earlier Democratic convention: "In New York on Sunday, as Democratic delegates gather in Boston, Republican convention volunteers will staff the Lower East Side Food Pantry, and on Monday, the chairman of the New York State Republican Party, Sandy Treadwell, will join delegates on the Upper East Side to pack up supply kits for Iraqi schoolchildren." [4]

The campaign began to produce the desired headlines almost immediately. A July 23rd article in the Jackson Clarion Ledger about Compassion Across America was headlined "Children of deployed troops to receive school supplies Saturday". It quoted a Mississippi GOP delegate as saying: "Republicans care about people... Maybe the Democrats do, too. I'm sure everybody cares." [5]

Brian Noyes and Compassion Across America

The New York Times article quotes Brian Noyes, the director of delegate and caucus for the Republican convention, as saying: "The central theme is to respond to the president's call to provide service in our own communities... We want to highlight that challenge." [6]

In this context, it is worth looking at Noye's background. He is the Regional Director for the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Southeast Region [7]. As such, he would appear to be a natural choice to head a worthy campaign such as Compassion Across America. However, prior to working at HUD, Noyes appears to have worked exclusively in public relations and/or for the Republican Party. He appears to have had no background in public housing.

From February 1999 to March 2001, Noyes worked as a government and public policy consultant at the DCI Group in Columbus, Ohio. [8] The DCI Group is a Republican lobbying company, which has worked hard on behalf of the military junta in Burma to rehabilitate it with the West, despite its appalling human rights record.

'Let them eat Prozac' - Susan Sheybani departs from Compassion Across America's script

Susan Sheybani is an assistant to Terry Holt, who is the national spokesman for the Bush reelection campaign. In late July 2004, Sheybani was overheard by a reporter discussing the plight of workers in low quality jobs. Her prescription was blunt, and not exactly compassionate. Sheybani said "Why don't they get new jobs if they're unhappy -- or go on Prozac?". When told the Prozac comment had been overheard by a reporter, Sheybani said: "Oh, I was just kidding." [9]

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