August 31, 2004


A convention village of GOP fantasies (Thomas Oliphant, August 31, 2004, Boston Globe)

The problem at the outset here is that the Potemkin village clashes with the surprisingly real and engaging one in the streets. Anything that jars political conventions' calculations or clashes with the party line is to be celebrated, but the surprise through the weekend and first day was that "the other convention" overshadowed the real one.

Grigori Potemkin's acolytes plopped Dick Cheney down on Ellis Island, with the Twin Towers-missing Manhattan skyline perfectly framed for TV in the background. About 100 "people" and a marching band were transported to cheer as he declared that President Bush was strong and tough. Local icon Rudy Giuliani, completing his makeover from leader to cashing-in mascot, lent his presence.

Across the harbor, hundreds of thousands of people marched up Seventh Avenue to Madison Square Garden and stole the show. No speeches, no big shot Democrats in the wings or even in the march, just people. The country does not agree with the views of most of them about getting out of Iraq, but the real political impact was a combination of immense size and genuineness of commitment as a contrast to what is turning into a demeaning, ritualistic, borderline cynical embrace of 9/11.

New York City became the convention venue while the Bush White House was in the grip of its Mission Accomplished delusion, the result of what Bush now actually claims was a mess created by the "catastrophic success" of the Iraq invasion. The consensus here is that the real New York City -- with fewer police and firefighters than before the attacks, with gigantic fiscal and economic problems traceable to Bush administration policies, and an informed view of the wasteful diversion from fighting terror that Iraq has proved to be -- would not be the Republicans' choice today.

The problem is not that John Kerry is likely to carry it by as much as a 5-1 margin. The problem is that New York doesn't fit Bush's Potemkin Village view; in fact, it mocks it.

John Kerry might cringe, but during Sunday's march I walked part of the way with a delightful group of a hundred or so repentant Naderites, striding behind a banner that was a tad rough but at least honest: Kerry Sucks Less.

Mr. Oliphant's surprisingly real protestors are, of course, fresh off their victory in stopping the march to war for oil.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 31, 2004 8:53 AM

Oliphant has, like many journalists, moved from the sensible but lefty leaning camp to the democrat partisan hack pro-Kerry/anti-Bush camp.

Posted by: AWW at August 31, 2004 9:47 AM

The real story about the protestors, which actually isn't even a story, is that they suck and don't matter.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at August 31, 2004 11:24 AM

--with gigantic fiscal and economic problems traceable to Bush administration policies, --

And where did the $20 billion go? Isn't that what NY was supposed to get?

Posted by: Sandy P at August 31, 2004 11:30 AM

Does *anybody* who counts care at all about what protestors think? Yeah pal, scream at me, jam a sign in my face and tell me that George Bush is worse than Osama Bin Laden, that will really work to bring me over to your side.

Posted by: Governor Breck at August 31, 2004 12:20 PM

Bill Handel on KFI 640AM (Los Angeles morning drive-time) reports that at least one New York newspaper is showing running casualty and arrest totals for the street action.

The most serious one so far involves a New York plainclothes cop who was attacked and beaten up real bad.

Funniest comment (by Handel or one of his radio crew) was the protestors are "for a Dictatorship of the Democrats".

Posted by: Ken at August 31, 2004 12:55 PM

Yadda, yadda, yadda...the usual from Oliphant. National Review has a blurb in their latest issue pointing out that Lewis Lapham wrote an article for Harper's decrying "[t]he speeches in Madison Square Garden" for their "archaic and bizarre" ideas. Naturally, Lapham wrote the article before yesterday's opening gavel, which seems somehow fitting for a party which either defends a nonexistent past legislative record or promises to accomplish feats that never pan out.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at August 31, 2004 1:04 PM

About 100 "people" and a marching band were transported to cheer

People who go to Republican political events aren't really people...?

Posted by: PapayaSF at August 31, 2004 3:39 PM

Can anybody check out and/or confirm something I heard on the radio last night? From the source, I don't know whether it was legit news or theater:

MoveOn and similar organizations for JFK2 are paying demonstrators $50 a head plus travel expenses to come to NY and riot outside the DNC.

Posted by: Ken at August 31, 2004 8:36 PM