The Protests: Bug or Feature

Christopher Hayes

When the GOP first announced they'd be hosting their convention in New York, I thought it was a huge miscalculation. Didn't they realize how much animus there would be in New York? How massive the protests would be? What was Karl Rove thinking? But then a few weeks ago a friend sent me an email saying he was convinced that that was all part of Karl Rove's plan. The Bush campaign wants images of protesters and chaos. They want America to think they are choosing between the speakers inside the convention and the protesters outside it. The protests, in other words, are a feature of the RNC, not a bug. Tony Kushner, apparently, thinks the same thing: People began to cheer, and Kushner took over. He said that while he supports the United For Peace And Justice march on Aug. 29, he is keenly aware of how the media will spin things. "Four more years of this guy is unthinkable," said Kushner, "but we need to think about how this is gonna play." The playwright suggested that Bush advisor Karl Rove chose to hold the RNC in a city "that has hated George Bush and which George Bush hates" precisely because he anticipates heated protest, which the party can convert into an "Elect John Kerry and madness and anarchy will follow" message. At this point the protests are going to happen one way or another, so I'm inclined to think that those with a savvy appreciation of how the media might portray them have an obligation to attend, bearing their most on-message signs and comporting themselves in the most reasonable, peaceful and non-threatening fashion. Still, I'm really, really nervous about how they will unfold and what message is going to beamed back to the steel workers in Alleghenies who currently hold the country's fate in their hands. I'm still undecided about whether I'll make it out to the protest, but to do our part in crafting a broadly appealing message for them, TGU is starting an RNC Protest Sign Contest. Send your best slogans and sign ideas to chrislhayes at and we'll post them.

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Christopher Hayes is the host of MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes. He is an editor at large at the Nation and a former senior editor of In These Times.
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