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PANEL DISCUSSION

GOP in NYC: Stranger in a Strange Land

September 05, 2004|Joel Pett | Joel Pett is the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist of the Lexington Herald-Leader. His work also appears in USA Today.

Crushing security lines, cramped hotel rooms, half-crazed cops cracking down on half-dressed dissidents -- all under a cloud of terrorism and constant deadline pressure. I didn't envy my peers covering the Republican convention in New York last week. I don't know which was scarier: anarchists, anthrax threats or Ann Coulter fans. Maybe you just had to be there.

"It was a collision of event and location that invited scorn, conflict and at times mayhem," said Steve Kelley of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "For a cartoonist, nothing could be better."

I tracked down Kevin "KAL" Kallaugher of the Baltimore Sun as he boogalooed down Broadway, "interviewing people inside and outside the convention center and using ... visits to famous city landmarks for inspiration."

Walt Handelsman of Newsday found irony in the party of Lincoln taking center stage in New York, "surrounded by angry protesters and Hillary voters. The president's post-9/11 visit was seen as his finest hour, so it was mentioned constantly during the convention," he said. "Never mind that Osama is still on the loose!"

After noticing delegates sporting Band-Aids printed with purple hearts, independent cartoonist and Vietnam veteran Jeff Danziger got rankled. "Ah, the Purple Heart," he sighed. "It's OK for Kerry's fellow vets to question his medals, but an entire major party?"

Kelley had the last word: "The inescapable curiosity of the GOP convention was its location. Having Republicans convene in New York City was like having vegans get together at Ruth's Chris Steak House. Even as delegates at the Garden saw Michael Moore in a press box and wondered, "Who let him in?" so the city itself must have been watching the whole spectacle and wincing, "Who let them in?"

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