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  • PIN THE TAIL/Daniel Rubin

    Observations from the 2004 Democratic National Convention

    Friday, July 23, 2004

    Left or Right? 

    Outside the Fleet Center, as the media swarm arrives and the sidewalks are so hot you could broil a lobster, a silver pick-up truck bears the bumper sticker:

    "Bush '04. Four more wars."

    I can't tell whose side the driver is on. Yeah, I remember the Republicans chanting "Four More Years" for Nixon in '72, but this guy's not serious is he?

    More easy to paint was the geezer at the Porter Square subway stop the night before. I dropped my $1.25 token into the slot and pushed the turnstile twice. My mistake. I had no more change so I tried some Philadelphia charm. Is there any way the machine could have eaten my quarter? I asked. He looked at me for a moment, then came out of his booth, and checked each turnstile, his fingers expertly sweeping the insides of each coin return. No dice. But he opened a gate for me anyway, saying "John Kerry took your money."

    "Are you sure?"

    "Yeah, the DNC or the DMZ," and he padded back to his post.

    So there might be Republicans here as well as the packs of Democrats who are now braying in the lobby of my hotel, the Omni Parker House, where Ted Kennedy used to dine with his grandfather Honey Fitz, where old brother John declared his candidacy for Congress, where Malcolm X used to be a busboy.

    It was a less storied place where I had dinner, Joe's American Bar, with my parents and four of their good old friends. This was in suburban Dedham. Not a chance they were going into town - not with all the warnings.

    The conversation was as crusty as the baked scrod.

    "It's the media that's blown this all out of proportion," said one of my folks' wise friends.

    "They're making this seem like it's some sort of catastrophe."

    That's the media for you.

    They blamed the police for threatening to picket the convention and the mayor - even though an arbitrator on Thursday gave them a 14.5 percent pay hike over four years. They blamed the mayor for letting things drag out until the eve of the convention. That's the police and politicians for you.

    Daniel Rubin

    Daniel Rubin is a staff writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He can be reached at


       •  July 2004

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