Late yesterday afternoon, Vice President Dick Cheney's motorcade drove over the Massachusetts Turnpike and headed out of view, towards the windowless rear of Boston's Harvard Club. A half hour earlier, Governor W. Mitt Romney, in a black Ford Explorer, had also slid passed the protestors outside the club using the same back door.
Both Republican Party leaders were at the Harvard Club to raise money for the GOP and to honor Massachusetts' most generous and effective GOP fundraiser, Richard J. Egan, founder of the data storage company EMC.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the Egan family gave almost $900,000 to Republican organizations during the 2000 and 2004 election cycles. In 2004, the Egans were the only family to field three "Rangers"—the title given to those who raised over $200,000 for George W. Bush. Egan served as US Ambassador to Ireland from 2001 to 2003.
As Cheney spoke to GOP donors, all of whom had shelled out $2,500 to hear him speak, protestors stood a block away bemoaning the vice president's presence in the city.
State and local police departments, whose officers had arrived by motorcycle, bike, horse, and car, closed down the blocks surrounding the club for the entirety of the event.
"It's the equivalent of Hitler coming back to life and coming to Boston," said Nick Giannone of Quincy, Massachusetts. "This guy's a straight-up fascist. I also find it pretty appalling that someone would pay $2,500 to sit in a room with a war criminal."
Suren Moodliar of the Greater Boston Stop the Wars Coalition expressed distaste for Cheney's ability to raise money: "I am appalled that he can go around raising money now that the party and he, in particular, have demonstrated to be so morally bankrupt."
In 2003, Cheney attended an event at the Egan home in Hopkinton, Mass. raising a reported $1.2 million dollars.
Friday's event was not open to the media; however, according to the Boston Globe, 300 people attended.
Betty Tufankjian, an elderly resident of Scituate, Mass., was hustled across the street by one officer. She was with an old friend from high school.
"Yeah, we're trouble," Tufankjian said. She was there to protest Cheney because she thinks he is profiting from the war, she said.
Hustling in the opposite direction were Michael F. Cronin '75 and his son, Christopher V. Cronin '08. They received an earful from protestors as they made their way into the club.
"Just because I wear a suit, they prejudge me," said the elder Cronin, the managing partner of Weston Presidio, a private equity firm, and a member of the Harvard Board of Overseers.
The tension between attendees and protestors increased as the group of approximately 200 hundred gathered a block down from the crimson and white flowerbeds of the club's entrance. Protestors screamed, "Shame on you!" and "Murderers!" to those making their way to the fundraiser.
Most attendees ignored the taunts, although one woman did return the favor, instructing one particularly vocal protestor to "get a fucking job."
The crowd waved signs calling Cheney a "demon" and chanted, "Cheney, Cheney's got to go! Send him to Guantanamo!" Three men dressed in jailhouse stripes and wearing Bush, Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld masks mugged for passerby. A group of self-proclaimed 'Billionaires for Bush and Cheney,' dressed to the nines, serenaded the crowd: "All we are saying is give greed a chance!"
Cheney is not the first political heavyweight to hold forth at the Harvard Club. According to the club's website, Eleanor Roosevelt, Henry Kissinger, William Taft, and John Foster Dulles have all been visitors.
—Staff writer Samuel P. Jacobs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.