The year was 2004. The place: Madison Square Garden. A weekday afternoon. The week had kicked off with maybe 200,000 marching against the Iraq war (I was among them). Now I was, for the first time, on the floor of a national party convention, as editor of Editor & Publisher, along with my colleague, the great Joe Strupp, and an ambitious intern, who will go unnamed (he had already been semi-adopted by John King and Tucker Carlson).
Was having fun arguing with GOP boss Ed Gillespie and chatting with the more human Matt Dowd (he would soon come out against the war and turn towards the center) and Shep Smith. The Bush girls were doing a sound check on stage. Then the three amigos from E&P got booted off the floor--maybe there was a time limit or something. We sat in the MSG cheap seats for awhile but, bored (like most Knicks fans these days), we went back to the floor.
Suddenly, Strupp and I were accosted by security folks, including a woman who claimed she was from the Secret Service, while our intern somehow slipped away, with a guard in hot pursuit. Our credentials were seized and we were threatened with a real grilling--waterboarding, perhaps?--before being marched out of the hall by NYPD cops.
Funniest thing--on the way out, who do we see coming our way down a corridor but--the fugitive intern. We laughed as he passed, without incident, and the cops never did catch on. We were so dangerous they marched us out of the building, and all the way across 7th Avenue.
The next day I used a ticket to sit up in the press section for Bush's acceptance speech, unhassled. Below, hundreds of delegates were smashing sandals together relentlessly--you remember, to signify that John Kerry was a "flip-flopper." A fellow anti-war type about 20 yards from me stood up and started chanting and was dragged out. Then it got so dull I simply walked out. Without an escort, this time.
The intern? He had sneaked in, climbed to the top of the press photographers' scaffold, and took some photos of Dick Cheney that we posted on our site the next day. Still at large, he covered the Democratic convention for us four years later, and somehow talked his way into the first five rows for Obama's acceptance speech in the stadium. Ah, but I digress...