Goin' Back to Crawford...
“We’re going to send your ass back to Crawford, bitch!”
So was the refrain from a group of liberal activists who gathered to watch President Bush’s acceptance speech at The Tank, an off-Broadway performance space on 42nd street in Mahattan, on the final day of the Republican National Convention.
The activists, many weary from a week of protests, fetes and arrests, but resolute as ever in their resistance to the GOP, gathered around a grainy television in the courtyard of The Tank to manifest one last message of dissent as the president delivered his prime time address.
This party was something of a final hurrah for the liberal activists who have sought to make their opposition to the Republican National Convention felt on the streets of New York during a week of largely peaceful, if sporadically violent, protest.
And what protests they were.
After a week of demonstrations in America's biggest city by dozens of groups unified by an overriding opposition to President Bush, these activists were tired. Many of them had been to jail; many more waited for word on those still incarcerated.
On the final night of a week of political dissent that saw the largest American political protest in twenty years, and the arrest of almost two thousand demonstrators, these organizers sought to bring closure to their "NYC2004" experience by exchanging contact information and saying good-bye, for now, and reminiscing about time spent in jail and hectic moments on the streets of New York.
The crowd represented something of a liberal intelligentsia, with notable Democrats in attendance, including former Howard Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi, and top liberal bloggers Duncan Black and Markos Moulitsas Zuniga.
“He promised he was going to provide specifics, but he didn’t,” said Zuniga, whose website, www.dailykos.com, reaches half a million visitors per day.
Perhaps America's most famous liberal blogger, Kos wore a Blogger.com T-Shirt and a surly countenance. "I'm tryin to act like an asshole, but it's not working," he said.
After posting his latest dispatch, which included this ditty:"The GOP caved under the weight of its own hate and fearmongering," Kos told us that emerging media alternatives such as cable news and Internet web logs have changed the political landscape by creating alternative sources of news that are reaching disenchanted citizens and energizing a jaded electorate.
“His speech was par for the course," Kos said, but it’s not going to work in this media environment. They’re still playing with the 2000 playbook.”
Another prominent liberal blogger, Duncan Black, who attracts 120,000 visitors every day to his site, atrios.blogspot.com, said that he while he hoped that Democratic nominee John Kerry would win, he wasn’t in a prognosticating mood.
“Both sides would like to believe that their base is the most organized and that they will get out the vote more than the other side,” he said. “I’d like to believe that people will rise up and defeat the horror that is Bush, but I really have no idea who will win.”
For Black, the highlight of the convention was retiring Georgia Senator Zell Miller’s speech: “I loved Zell,” he said, tongue firmly in cheek. “He’s a true American patriot willing to sacrifice his political career for what he believes in.”
Although the liberal luminaries in attendance garnered most of the media attention, the bulk of the crowd was made up of rank and file leftists – Code Pink activists, Critical Mass bike riders and Billionaires of Bush – who gathered to drink beer and huddle with compatriots on the final night of the Republican Garden party.
To a person, those assembled responded to Bush’s speech with predictable disgust.
“It’s all talk and no action,” said Paul Bellan-Boyer, 46, a Lutheran deacon from Jersey City. “It takes me back to 8th grade social studies, when they taught us about propaganda – anything you can do to demonize your opponent, whether it’s your political opponent or geopolitical opponent.”
Bellan-Boyer’s wife Lisa, who teaches a course called “Culture and Values” at Hudson County Community College, said that they had come to The Tank because “they didn’t want to be alone watching the speech in their apartment, screaming out the window every 30 seconds.”
Another activist, 22 year old Nico Pitney of San Diego, said that he thought that Bush was capable of rallying the Republican faithful, but that on this night the president had fallen short.
Bush’s speech “wasn’t as bad as I hoped it would be and wasn’t as good as I thought it might be.” Pitney said
After a week of rolling protests, many at The Tank were exhausted. But as the liberal radio network Air America’s microphones rolled, the activists were not bashful in expressing their opinion about the president’s moment in the spotlight at 11o’clock tonight.
As Bush took the stage, the revelers responded with an old-fashioned New York colloquialism: “fugeddaboutit!”