The Crimson’s convention diary brings you the noteworthy and extraordinary from New York.
IN THE DOGHOUSE
Yale had a surprisingly rough time earlier this month at a convention fêting one of its own.
On the first night of the Republican National Convention—Monday, Aug. 30—a junior Bulldog found himself on a Secret Service leash after harassing Vice President (and Yale dropout) Dick Cheney. Thomas Frampton, a liberal leader on the New Haven campus, was arrested for assaulting federal officers after coming within 10 feet of Cheney’s private seating area and shouting anti-Bush slogans.
Frampton worked hard for his 15 minutes. The 21-year-old was credentialed as a convention volunteer, and had gone through training sessions over the summer “masquerading as a Republican supporter of the president,” prosecutor John M. Hillebrecht told the Associated Press. He’s out on bail—but is he in class? Yale’s calendar started Wednesday, Sept. 1—two days after the arrest.
Next on the Eli Walk-of-Shame came a more prominent Yalie: First Daughter Barbara Bush (Yale Class of 2004), who in her speech Tuesday night laid the smackdown on her alma mater’s politics.
“When your dad’s a Republican and you go to Yale, you learn to stand up for yourself,” the brunette twin said in her national television debut. Absent from the remarks was twin Jenna’s school of choice, the University of Texas, which one assumes is not as liberal as its East Coast counterpart.
—Michael M. Grynbaum, Jessica E. Schumer and Joseph M. Tartakoff
LAUGH IT UP
Leave it to New York’s vibrant entertainment industry to inject some humor into a gathering of cowboy-hatted, straight-faced Republicans.
Camera crews from various comedy shows mingled in the hallways of Madison Square Garden, looking to catch naive delegates and savvy celebrities alike for a few minutes of face time. Working the crowd Monday night was Triumph the Insult Comic Dog of “Late Night with Conan O’Brien”. The snarky pooch was missing his trademark cigar, perhaps confiscated by security in strict adherence to the Garden’s no-smoking rules. Triumph’s muse Robert Smigel kept a tight grip on his charge—the puppet never left his arm. Smigel, a longtime “Saturday Night Live” writer and co-creator of “The Ambiguously Gay Duo,” had collected a few Midwestern guests to speak with him about the demographics of the convention.
“Look,” Smigel/Triumph said, pointing to a group of Garden employees working a refreshment stand. “I finally found some black delegates.”
His interviewee, a red-faced man with a red, white and blue tie and a Southern accent, laughed nervously: “I’m just here to have some fun.”
Down on the floor, Jay Leno’s high-pitched, high-energy perennial intern Ross chatted with Commerce Secretary and Bush bosom buddy Don Evans.
Evans was cordial to his questioner, but after the late night gadfly scurried off, several convention staffers took note of his falsetto tone, effete gestures and flower-printed shirt. So this was the culture clash they’d been hearing about.
—Michael M. Grynbaum
MR. GLICKMAN GOES TO NEW YORK
Dan Glickman was spotted in a Madison Square Garden hallway Monday night, quietly exiting the convention arena just hours before his tenure as director of the Institute of Politics ended.
What was Bill Clinton’s former secretary of agriculture doing at a Grand Old Party?
“The new job requires a high degree of bipartisanship,” Glickman said happily, referring to his new position as president of the Motion Picture Association of America.
“Jack Valenti had a great, positive relationship with everybody in Congress, because the issues affecting the motion picture industry are bipartisan,” Glickman said.
He added: “You would be a fool to have this job and operate in a partisan fashion.”
No word yet on whether pirated videos of the convention will be available online.
—Michael M. Grynbaum and Joseph M. Tartakoff
Fashion at the convention was more Lilly Pulitzer than Carrie Bradshaw.
Flower-printed shirts, sequin vests, cowboy hats and flag regalia were all in vogue. Flashier guests adorned themselves in colorful pachyderms, producing more than a few pink elephants.
Some state delegations chose to make their fashion statements en masse. California delegates donned shades inspired by Schwarzenegger’s alter ego the Terminator. The Texas Delegation took things one step further, setting aside their lone-star individualism by strutting around the floor each night with navy jackets, khakis and—what else?—cowboy hats.
Not all the fashion was benign—a few delegates chose to vent their anger at John Kerry by covering themselves with Band-Aids marked with purple hearts.
—Jessica E. Schumer
WHY OH WHY OHIO?
Ohio’s Miami University may be the anti-Harvard.
“College Republicans outnumber Democrats four to one,” said Michaela Brandell, a junior at the 16,000-student public school and guest at the convention. “It’s the second largest group on campus, behind Campus Crusade for Christ.”
Toto, we’re not in Cambridge anymore.
Officials at their school’s College Republican Club, most members of the Ohio delegation were on their first sojourn to New York. They said they were enjoying the city, but not the thousands of protestors that greeted them.
“There have been New Yorkers who have told us to leave,” said Brad Purnhagen, a senior. “I’m trying to express my opinion that [Bush is] a great Commander-in-Chief, and their only response is ‘Bush kills babies.’”
But one anecdote suggested that younger conservatives may be more socially open-minded than their older brethren. The Buckeye bunch said they enjoyed themselves at a party in Bryant Park Sunday night hosted by the Log Cabin Republicans, the gay and lesbian wing of the Republican Party.
The students said they supported President Bush for his “leadership and strong values.” But there may be additional perks. Asked which Bush daughter he preferred, Purnhagen laughed.
“I’m actually a Jenna fan,” he said, grinning.
—Michael M. Grynbaum
WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE...
Security was tight at Madison Square Garden—so tight that employees at concession stands on Tuesday night refused to sell bottles of Poland Spring water with caps on them.
The vendor who sold a reporter a topless bottle said that she did not know why the policy existed and was only following orders.
Perhaps, she mused, the Secret Service was afraid that overzealous audience members could throw the caps onto the floor.
When a reporter suggested that he might purchase another beverage instead, the vendor told him not to worry and promptly handed over the missing cap—after she received the $3.75 for the half-liter of water.
Lest delegates sought to quench their thirst in a more frugal manner, the friendly organizers at the Garden had taken care of that too: All of the water fountains in the arena were conveniently running dry. This proved a problem for the medical team in section 66, members of which complained that dehydrated delegates had needed treatment at the First Aid station, along with a few “elderly delegates who had drank too much.” Easy, cowboy!
—Joseph M. Tartakoff
WHERE IN THE WORLD IS MICHAEL MOORE?
Michael Moore’s cameo appearance at the Garden Monday night upset more than the usual suspects.
Journalists in the press box where Moore was seated were grumbling that the portly filmmaker’s presence interrupted their work, as photographers and camerapersons swarmed just as deadlines were nearing.
The next day, a Republican media representative attempted to assuage the notoriously demanding press, assuring journalists in the affected section that the “disingenuous filmmaker” would not be making an encore performance at the convention. (Free beer would have helped.)
Asked whether Moore had been expelled, the man replied that he had only been credentialed for one day.
Moore was in town to pen a column for USA Today.
—Joseph M. Tartakoff