Illustration by Emek (emek.com)
I could hardly trust my own deeply negative response to the Republican’s Fright Night — the dour, obviously dumbfuck Zell Miller followed by what appeared to be a robotic, boring, mocking, soulless VP Cheney. Ergo, the reality check with the California Repubs who were partying in the always-enchanting lantern-lit patios of Central Park’s Tavern on the Green.
“I walked out of the convention shocked. Amazed and shocked at Cheney,” is how one Republican apparatchik put it . . . way way not for attribution as we chomped on some crispy shrimp ’round midnight. “He looked like he was giving his first big speech, drinking 4 or 5 glasses of water . . . In only attacking Kerry he lost the opportunity to talk about the future . . . This kind of speech doesn’t move a single swing voter into our column.”
—Marc Cooper, Sept. 1
The papers will surely credit the police for their great restraint in not provoking riots, as is so often their wont, but isn’t some small praise due to the hundreds of thousands who did not let themselves be provoked? All day Thursday, Union Square was one big festival. The folks from Greene Dragon staged a mock trial and dethroning of “the present Corporate Monarch of America, George II.” Across the park more solemn ceremonies were underway. Black tarps hung above the steps to the square bearing the names of every American soldier who has died in Iraq. A coffin-shaped cart built by a group called September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows towed a huge granite slab strewn with flowers and carved with the words “Unknown Civilians Killed in War.” Long rows of empty boots stretched across the plaza at the south end of the park, each pair tagged with the name of a fallen soldier. Fernando Suarez del Solar sat stolidly in a folding chair, clutching a photo of his son. A little later, when a young woman whose brother had been killed in Iraq began crying not far away, Suarez del Solar left his perch and kneeled on the paving stones to comfort her. The two wept in each other’s arms, and quickly disappeared behind a mob of pathos-hungry photographers.
—Ben Ehrenreich, Sept. 3
The great advantage of covering the convention protests is that I haven’t had time to watch the actual convention. Except for the twins. And I ducked into a bar last night and caught about a minute of Cheney’s speech. I drank fast and ran away. I’ve been fortunate to spend the last few days in this very small, peripatetic America in which everyone hates Bush, the war and Fox News, and thinks dancing is important. Most of its citizens wear Dickies cut off just above the ankle, and have the phone number of the National Lawyers Guild written in Sharpie on their arms. An odd national costume, sure, but it can be a lovely place, this protest America, a place of great spontaneity and humor, so long as it’s not engaging in one of its most ancient rites: speechifying.
—Ben Ehrenreich, Sept. 2
Listening to [Bush] was like trying to comprehend the transcendence of pi, or the geometry of imaginary numbers. Unfettered by the constraints of truth, Bush laid out an ethereal vision of his splendid record: about having “passed the most important education reform in history”; and how the tax relief was a boon to the economy; and what a glorious time it is now that democracy is flowering across the Middle East.
Juxtaposing those words with our own physical universe became dizzying. The fabulism of one statement was still being mentally cataloged when the next one would come along and rend a new fissure in the spacetime around the Garden.
—Joshuah Bearman, Sept. 4