- The Washington Times - Monday, August 30, 2004

Press critics dug into the Republican feast with relish yesterday.

“Republicans wasted no time in drawing God to their cause as they peppered the opening of their party convention here with a heavy mixture of political pieties and gospel music,” noted an account by the international news wire Agence France-Presse.

“The Republican Party that convenes in New York City today is the mainstream model, its more radical elements consigned to distant memory. We wish the Republicans now in power in Washington were in fact the moderate, tolerant, diverse party that will be on display this week. But any look beneath the surface shows otherwise,” noted a Boston Globe editorial.

The New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg at least hoped Republican revelers would be treated politely by locals “alarmed” by the Bush administration for “its mania for shoveling cash to the very rich at the expense of families of middling means, its servility to polluters and fossil-fuel extractors, its reckless embrace of fiscal insolvency, its hostility to science, its political alliances with fanatic religious fundamentalisms of every stripe except Islamic.”

The convention also brought out additional verbosity at the New York Times in this opening sentence in a front-page news analysis by Todd Purdum: “In a few dozen blocks of the same slender island, two worlds collided yesterday: the Republican convention’s calculated claims to patriotism and the presidency met elaborately planned and heavily Democratic street protests that turned those same arguments back at President Bush — in ways that might help, or hurt, both sides.”

CNN, meanwhile, broached the idea that President Bush’s recent reference to the war in Iraq as a “catastrophic success” constituted a John Kerry-esque “flip-flop.”

And if journalists got brusque with Republicans on Day One of the convention, protesters were treated as if they were naughty — but cute.

The Associated Press described them as “sweaty but jubilant,” quoting organizer Leslie Cagan of United for Peace and Justice gushing, “It was fabulous, a fabulous day.”

The Los Angeles Times billed the protesters as an “exuberant … mixture of young activists and older veterans of political marches from the 1960s, they were united in the belief that Bush must be defeated.”

The Times noted that because of police presence, “the parade route resembled an armed camp.” Nevertheless, “the march had a festive, party-like mood.”

Protesters themselves were leery of sporadic coverage that depicted them as violent anarchists, according to an account in the Nation.

“Several of the inflammatory tabloid pieces have been posted to officer.com, a Web site for police officers, and activists fear that they’ll influence police response,” cautioned columnist Esther Kaplan.

Contact Jennifer Harper at [email protected] or 202/636-3085.

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