It's good to be a B


I was going to post this from the front row of the "dress" section of the Ford Center (the old Lyric Theatre on 42nd Street, not the big mostly empty arena in Oklahoma City), but I still can't get Sprint's wireless web to work.

My wife and I had great seats for the musical "42nd Street" thanks entirely to the fact that I am the first Oklahoma delegate in alphabetical order. Oklahoma had the right half of the first balcony, sharing the theatre with delegates from Texas, Nebraska, and Kansas.

We left the hotel just after 3 and wisely decided to walk the three long blocks rather than take a cab.

Did not see a single protester today. Not a one. Some friends went to Columbus Circle to catch the "big" protest and said there were maybe 100 people there. They weren't there when we arrived at the theatre, and they weren't there when we left. Times Square looked pretty normal, with tourists milling about.

At the theatre, they had free soft drinks, champagne, and bottled water for us, courtesy the New York City host committee, and on each chair was a New York Times tote bag full of goodies, including Fodor's New York Flashmaps -- an extremely useful and portable guidebook -- some cough drops, and a very small New York Times T-shirt. As if I'm going to let my kid wear that.

I should add that starting with our official check-in with the delegation on Saturday we have been loaded down with stuff -- a tote bag from the host committee with Rudy Giuliani's book, a book on New York landmarks, a box of special Republican Convention Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, with elephant noodles. Congressmen Istook supplied a tote bag with Istook logo merchandise -- ball cap, beverage mug, and that sort of thing. This morning we had a Sunday Times on the doorstep, plus a packet with NR, TNR, The Hill and Roll Call in it. I've heard we'll be getting a New York Sun every morning. (I know I should italicize all that, but I can't be bothered right now.)

RNC chairman Ed Gillespie welcomed us, then introduced Rudy Giuliani to a standing ovation. Giuliani spoke briefly about the importance of reelecting this president, who after 9/11 understood the need to go on offense against the terrorists, not just play defense. We had a fifteen minute gap after Giuliani spoke, during which someone got the idea that our delegation should sing "Oklahoma!" which we did, with gusto. Then the Texas delegation in the orchestra section did some sort of bizarre ritualistic chant while they made a evil-looking gang sign involving the extension of index finger and pinky. We attempted to reverse any bad vibes by displaying the Texas sign upside down. Way up in the nosebleed section we heard the chanting of "Big Red! Big Red!" and we started to chant along until we realized that it was the wrong Big Red -- it was the one from up north, where they have an "N" for "nollidge" on the sides of their football helmets. So we drowned them out with a hearty "Boomer Sooner" chant. The Kansas folks sang "Home on the Range," the nation's least specific state song. Then there was a halfhearted attempt at "Deep in the Heart of Texas" from the folks from Baja Oklahoma, which was mercifully cut short by the overture.

The show itself was brilliant, thoroughly entertaining from start to finish. The performances were flawless, the story engaging, the music infectious. The epitome of a "feel-good" hit. I'm sure someone out there has deconstructed it as a boxcar full of Iowa corn, but I'm sure I don't care.

Still no sign of protesters as we left the theatre to get on a bus for a reception in honor of retiring Senator Don Nickles. I saw a few individuals -- mostly scruffy looking young males -- wearing very mild anti-Bush t-shirts (the letter W with a circle around it and a slash through it -- that sort of thing).

The reception, sponsored by Kerr McGee, was very nice -- atop the Mandarin Oriental Hotel near Columbus Circle, with a few out over the southern end of Central Park. The buffet was amazing. I loaded up on pastrami-smoked salmon and artichoke hearts. We watched the sky get dark and the full moon come up over the park. It was pretty impressive to see everyone in the room break out in fur and begin howling. You'd be surprised what we Republicans get up to when the press isn't watching.

Had an interesting conversation with fellow delegate Peggy Dau, who is with Voice of the Martyrs, a Bartlesville-based organization that mobilizes help for Christians under government persecution around the world. (There are ways you can help. Go find out. I'll wait here.)

On our way out, we each received a gift from Kerr McGee -- a leather-bound, gold-edged pocket atlas. Shared a cab back to the hotel. An entire day living like a Republican fat-cat and not a single protester turned up to mock or shock me.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on August 30, 2004 12:51 AM.

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