Wednesday, March 03, 2004

The Whole World Is Watching
Now that the primary season is over, the next big events on the political calendar are the conventions. Democrats meet in Boston late in July; the Republicans have postponed their convention in New York until mid-September, after the traditional Labor Day start of the fall campaign, to further piss on the graves of the September 11 victims for political gain. In the Village Voice, Cynthia Cotts writes about the likelihood of protests at the Republican convention. Both political conventions have been designated "National Special Security Events" by the Department of Homeland Security. This means that the FBI and FEMA will share security responsibilities in New York City with the NYPD and the Secret Service. Cotts observes: "To justify the cost of so much heat, it could be tempting for officials to cast any spontaneous protest as an act of terrorism." As the city seems to be dragging its feet on march permits, don't be surprised if this actually happens.

Cotts' column also considers the potential narratives the press could choose to focus on in New York--the flag-waving and hymn-singing going on inside Madison Square Garden, or the protests outside. It's probably too much to hope that if the press chooses the outside option, that they'll cover the protests as a legitimate action by people expressing their Constitutional right to dissent, rather than an anarchistic free-for-all by People Who Hate America--because you can bet that's how any protests outside will be portrayed by attendees inside.

Recommended reading: On TomPaine.com, Russ Baker analyzes how Democrats can counter Karl Rove's plan to market "a vulnerable, borderline-unelectable person" as a strong, visionary leader. Rove has already had Bush try to portray Kerry as a waffler, but it should be fairly easy to pin the same tail on Bush himself: "[I]n the last four years Bush has taken stands for and against free trade, fiscal restraint and nation-building." (Not to mention his flip-flop on same-sex marriage.) As for leadership and vision, which is going to be another of Rove's big selling points, Baker says Democrats have plenty of ammunition to fight back: "[B]esides the Iraqi morass (note Bush's increasingly apparent efforts to hide out from his own investigative commission), the deficit-pumping tax cuts to the rich and the constant burying or twisting of pessimistic economic news, there's that horrifying new global warming report." But it won't be enough to merely criticize Bush--Democrats also need positive programs to plug. Fortunately, there are plenty of attractive options from health care to job training to tax policy to education.

A correction: In my post on Monday, I said that I had received no media inquiries about my February 29th birthday this year. I was reminded last night that I did, however--my friend Jennifer Miller from WIBA in Madison called me almost a month ago as part of a story she was working on. But considering how I can barely remember what I had for breakfast this morning, that I'd forget something from a month ago isn't a big surprise.

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