Sep 9 - 15, 2004 
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Thin Line

By Tim McGivern

Looks like you're in the front row. According to Editor and Publisher, Jerry Gallegos, superintendent of the press gallery at the GOP convention, became indignant on opening night after filmmaker-turned-USA Today columnist Michael Moore was delayed and surrounded by security guards several times on his way to the convention press table.

E&P reported: "Gallegos, who has overseen daily press credentials for each political convention since 1972, said the guards and New York City police had no authority to stop access for Moore, or close off a press area without proper cause. ... ’When you have the police force telling individuals what access they are going to have, and it is not based on a safety issue, that is scary,' said Gallegos."

"Security officials then took Moore to a very visible area inside the arena, which includes several rows of press tables just two sections above the convention floor. He was so close, he later drew boos from the crowd following a verbal critique from Sen. John McCain during his speech," E&P reported.

The story quotes Gallegos: "Moore had intended to be put up in a section where he would not be noticed. Security took him to the wrong location and when the media scrum began, police ordered that area shut down and no press could go in or out."

Wrong location? Sounds like the GOP organizers wanted the cops to shuttle Moore to a secure, camera-ready location just in time to flash his face to the national audience. And Moore, judging from his grin and tip of the hat to the crowd, didn't seem to mind playing the pawn, either.

Gangs of New York. In a dispatch last week, Slate.com's Bryan Curtis described walking toward the GOP Convention at Madison Square Garden alongside a group of protesters when "four dozen cops surrounded us, each clutching a handful of an enormous orange net. Half the protesters made a break for it, tumbling uselessly into the net. For a second, the mob looked like it was going to go berserk."

Curtis said the netted New Yorkers started chanting "we are peaceful people," while he was waving his red-and-green media badges.

"The cops led the protesters out of the net one by one, clasping their arms in white plastic handcuffs and herding them toward a city bus the police had commandeered for the occasion. Those remaining dispensed legal advice, while others placed plaintive calls to friends on cell phones. A girl wrapped in an American flag glanced at my notebook and said, ’Tell them we weren't doing anything wrong.' I spent the next 20 minutes trying to convince NYPD information officers that I wasn't doing anything wrong. Their response was, what in God's name is Slate magazine? I answered with more unmanly whining. Finally, a lieutenant told me he knew of Slate and let me wiggle out of the net. (Owe you one, Lt. Nathan.)"

Speaking of Slate.com, the best article on the whole GOP convention comes from William Saletan, entitled "Back to the Future: What Bush would have done if he were president." (http://slate.com/id/2106214/)

Saletan writes: "For $2.4 trillion, guess what wordother than "a," "and," and "the"occurs most frequently in the acceptance speech George W. Bush delivered tonight. The word is "will." It appears 76 times. This was a speech all about what Bush will do, and what will happen, if he becomes president.

Except he already is president. He already ran this campaign. He promised great things. They haven't happened. So, he's trying to go back in time. He wants you to see in him the potential you saw four years ago. He can't show you the things he promised, so he asks you to envision them. He asks you to be "optimistic." He asks you to have faith."

Then Saletan offers this excerpt from Bush's acceptance speech: "Since 2001, Americans have been given hills to climb and found the strength to climb them. Now, because we have made the hard journey, we can see the valley below. Now, because we have faced challenges with resolve, we have historic goals within our reach and greatness in our future."

Following Bush's hopeful rhetoric, Saletan writes: "Recession. Unemployment. Corporate fraud. A war based on false premises that has cost us $200 billion and nearly a thousand American lives. They're all hills we've "been given to climb." It's as though Bush wasn't president. As though he didn't get the tax cuts he wanted. As though he didn't bring about postwar Iraq and authorize the planning for it. All this was "given," and now Bush can show up, three and a half years into his term, and start solving the problems some other president left behind."

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