The Saturday night before every political convention there is usually a party for the thousands of journalists that will be covering the shebang to come. The familiar faces of TV news mix with the worker-bees–producers, bookers, engineers, camerapeople, makeup artists, interns–and together they guzzle tons of free food and an ocean of booze. A good time was had by all–right, left, and unaffiliated–and the event afforded me a fine start to one of my missions in New York this week: hang out with conservatives and have a good time.
The Boston media bash for the Democratic convention featured an indoors carousel and Little Richard banging on the piano. The fete in New York City featured….shopping. It was held inside the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle, which is essentially a mall: J. Crew, Hugo Boss, Williams-Sonoma, Borders, Bose, the Art of Shaving, and so much more. On the sidewalk, where the smokers gathered and moaned about Mayor Michael Bloomberg, I spotted the National Review‘s Kate O’Beirne. As we started chatting, New York Times reporter David Carr asked us to compare this extravaganza–Bloomberg flipping potato pancakes! clowns on stilts in neon suits! Don King citing Reconstructionist theology in praising George W. Bush–to the Boston party. I replied, “Leave it to the Republicans to turn a party into a shopping spree.” On the way in to the Time Warner Center, every one of the thousands of revelers was handed a book of discount coupons they could use in the stores when they weren’t gorging upon sushi, sashimi, pizza or the mayor’s pancakes. Right away, O’Beirne replied that this was part of George W. Bush’s economic plan. “See people are using their tax cuts. Aren’t you happy about that, David?” It was just like being on Capital Gang. Yes, I answered, I’m glad I received my tax cut, even though local taxes have had to go up and the costs of Bush’s tax cuts will be forced upon future middle-class taxpayers who will be saddled with a deficit exacerbated by Bush’s givebacks to the wealthy. “Whoa,” said a bystander. “These guys can make even a party political.”
At this point, a champagne glass tipped over and shattered. Carr departed and disappeared into the party. “Guess we didn’t give good quotes,” O’Beirne remarked. Then she spotted a pal and said, “Barbara, come over here. David was just making a cheap joke about your old boss.” O’Beirne was referring to my comment about the large statues in the lobby of the Time Warner Center: a very round man and a very round woman, naked and anatomically correct. (At least the woman was; I did not check out her partner.) Pointing to the statues, I had said, “I wonder what John Ashcroft would say.” The newcomer to our conversation was Barbara Comstock, who had been the spokesperson for the attorney general. (She now is working for Blank Rome Government Relations, a lobbying and communications firm.)