T-Shirt Chic and the Last Hurrah

Party time in New York, and, of course, the bloggers are mixing serious party business with, well, serious party business, Republican style.

David Adesnik of Oxblog spent Sunday covering the massive protests — and critiquing the mainstream media’s “very superficial and often misleading” accounts.

Adesnik writes:

The first thing wrong with these stories is their focus on the few inconsequential arrests and mishaps that took place. Many of the journalists I saw just seemed to be waiting for something to go wrong. Because things going wrong is news, whereas the actual ideas and policies favored by the protesters are supposedly boring.

If I were a protester, I’d probably feel that the NYT and WaPo did the marchers a disservice by failing to recognize just how orderly and peaceful the protest was and how the organizers successfully defused the most important potential conflict of the day, i.e., the disappointed hope that the protest march would culminate with a massive rally in Central Park.

Katherine Mangu-Ward of The Weekly Standard tracked a far smaller group of protesters yesterday: about 25 Libertarians. Not surprisingly, their game plan differed considerably from more mainstream marchers:

Earlier this summer, when applicants from United for Peace and Justice were denied a permit for a large protest on Central Park’s Great Lawn during the convention, the Manhattan Libertarian Party swung into action. Claiming that “the only permit we need is the First Amendment,” they initiated an “unauthorized protest” movement. A press release was issued, announcing that “organizers will not be available to negotiate with the NYPD, because we don’t have any organizers. Absolutely nobody is in charge. Libertarians are individuals, not a collective.”

Blogger Roger L. Simon, with apologies to his cardiologist for jumping on the GOP carb wagon, saw plenty of happy faces on the streets of Manhattan last night, and they belonged to the cops. “One word explanation for this — overtime.” Hugh Hewitt also planned on chowing down but took time out to answer an oft-asked question: Why blog the convention?

Says Hewitt: “The answer for a blogger is the same as for a radio talk show host, a print journalist or a television anchor — and I have been all four. Journalists of all sorts attend political events even where the outcome is known for the same reason they attend the State of the Union or campaign events where the stump speech is given: To stand in the middle of the mighty river ‘Information Flow’ and see what you pick up from hundreds of different conversations. … You just have to be here to get the story in full.”

Out on the mean streets around Madison Square Garden, bloggers are shocked!, yes, shocked and dismayed, at some of the t-shirt slogans they’re seeing. Matthew Yglesias deems the scatological puns on signs and shirtfronts to be about as infantile as those dirty jokes that made the rounds in the sixth grade. And on the opposite side of the political and fashion spectrum, t-shirt chic is on the mind of National Review’s prim Kathryn Jean Lopez, who, thank you very much, especially favors an anti-“Sex in the City” model that reads on the front, “Carrie Doesn’t Speak For Me” and on the back “Neither Does Kerry.” (Both bloggers apparently missed the quintessentially New York t-shirt that Campaign Desk ran across yesterday: An attack t-shirt that savaged other shirts with this blunt question: If I Don’t Want to Hear from You, What the F*ck Makes You Think I Want to Hear from Your Shirt? )

And finally, compliments of Wonkette!, as the convention moves forward to its finale, remember that George Bush is a veteran at whipping up cheering crowds. Or is he? Better check in with Cheerleaders for Truth, who have their doubts.

Susan Q. Stranahan

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Susan Q. Stranahan wrote for CJR.