Posted: July 25, 2004


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

One of the expressions making the rounds up here in Boston, as the Democratic national convention is set to open, is "No Bushit."

It is nowhere near as popular in these parts as the saying, "Yankees suck," which seems to be virtually a mantra, but still, it is appearing regularly on t-shirts and bumper stickers.

Remember the gag line -- and you can take "gag" any way you want to -- from the end of the Democrats' primary season, the one that went, "Dated Dean, married Kerry, still fantasizing about Edwards"?

The Democrats managed to join John F. Kerry and John R. Edwards, having their shotgun-wedding cake and eating it, too, but in their hearts, t-shirts and bumper stickers, they still seem to be harboring the passion of a Howard Dean scream.

They want George W. Bush out, crawling back to Crawford, Texas, where they hope the temperature is Fahrenheit 911 in the shade.

Naturally the Delaware delegation up here is not quite so hot-blooded, coming from a political tradition where everybody sees everybody else too often to call names. Take names, yes, but not call them.

The Delawareans account for only 23 of the 4,325 delegates, although there are probably a total of about 70 people from home at the convention, if you include alternates, staff, family members and guests.

Most of them are staying in the thick of things at the Boston Park Plaza, centrally located enough in the Back Bay that they were only blocks away Sunday from a massive demonstration in Copley Square for the Falun Gong, the Chinese dissident group, and another large protest in the Boston Common against war and racism, calling for the troops to come home and for an all-purpose, one-size-fits-all end to occupations in Iraq, Palestine and Haiti.

Falun Gong is meditative, so its gathering was silent and Yoga-like, but the ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) rally was heavy on the hot rhetoric, lots of anti-establishment language against the Democrats and the Republicans, with talk of the “twin parties of the U.S. war machine.” There were a bunch of Dennis Kucinich t-shirts in the crowd.

The Delawareans were not at the demonstrations. They were more likely to be found back at their hotel, where they were sitting ducks for a New York Times reporter who seemed to be working on a story about the convention’s angry mood.

All he got was a classically Delaware, measured response from Diane Clarke Streett, the New Castle County register of wills who is a delegate. “The economy is bad, the schools are in shambles, and the Bush administration is making things worse,” she said. “I don’t think it requires anger. It’s a reasoned decision anyone can come too.”

The reporter finally got his fire from Wilmington Councilman Norman M. Oliver, the one and only state delegate for Al Sharpton. “It’s time to take the f---ing gloves off,” Oliver said.

It was so un-Delawarean, and it really was just “Stormin’ Norman” messing with the New York Times. “I just wanted to be bad,” Oliver said afterwards.

The Delaware delegation was supposed to begin its stay Sunday with a reception at the Children’s Museum of Boston along with the Democrats from Maryland and Washington, D.C., but the event looked as though it was going to be fairly pedestrian, and a number of Delawareans skipped it, including U.S. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Gov. Ruth Ann Minner.

Biden was off on the speaking circuit, scheduled first at an event where he was appearing with former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and then another one with the College Democrats. Minner had the best offer in town – a Citigroup-sponsored evening at Fenway Park for the Red Sox-Yankees game.

Biden and Minner did not miss much. Lobbyists in Dover put out better spreads than the heavy-appetizer fare of chicken, pasta, shrimp and cheese here. Streett and Oliver, along with Wilmington Council President Theodore Blunt and Councilwoman Stephanie T. Bolden, bailed out early to use the hot tickets they had for “Remembering Maynard J. Jackson Jr.,” an invitation-only concert in remembrance of the late mayor of Atlanta, featuring Bill Cosby and Gladys Knight.

The delegates who found true excitement were the ones who stayed back at the hotel. There was a fire in a building connected to the Park Plaza, and the elevators were declared off-limits. For about an hour, state Sen. Patricia M. Blevins, who is a delegate, could not get up to her room, and New Castle County Democratic Chairman John D. Daniello, who is on the convention’s Rules Committee, could not get down from his.

The Park Plaza considers itself one of the most famous hotels in Boston, the host to every president since it opened in 1927.

Back then it was known as the Hotel Statler Boston, built by E.M. Statler – but not before a little politicking. According to the hotel’s official history, the building’s 14 stories were 125 feet higher than the state code allowed. Statler had to sweet-talk Mayor James M. Curley, the legendary politician known for his terms in office and in prison, before he could have his hotel.

It sure does lead to wondering how Statler would have done if he had tried to talk Thomas P. Gordon and Sherry L. Freebery into that Radisson Hotel that never opened near Newport?