Convention Diary

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Poor old Boston. Whatever it does, from baseball to political conventions, John Kerry's home city always comes off second best to New York. In terms of organisation, this week's Republican shindig has been streets ahead of the Democrats' get-together last month in Beantown, which seemed to bring the city close to nervous breakdown. The Big Apple, though, is simultaneously handling two massive sporting events - the US Open tennis tournament and a big Yankees home series - without breaking stride. But maybe there's hope for the eternal second-best. On Tuesday, the Yankees lost to Cleveland by an all-time record of 22-0.

Poor old Boston. Whatever it does, from baseball to political conventions, John Kerry's home city always comes off second best to New York. In terms of organisation, this week's Republican shindig has been streets ahead of the Democrats' get-together last month in Beantown, which seemed to bring the city close to nervous breakdown. The Big Apple, though, is simultaneously handling two massive sporting events - the US Open tennis tournament and a big Yankees home series - without breaking stride. But maybe there's hope for the eternal second-best. On Tuesday, the Yankees lost to Cleveland by an all-time record of 22-0.

Life is getting tough for some broadcasters providing convention coverage from Madison Square Garden. CNN might seem pretty straight to most of us, but for red-meat Republicans, Ted Turner's old station is the liberal devil incarnate. On Tuesday, several dozen conventioneers sitting close to the CNN stand suddenly started a barracking chant of "Watch Fox News ... Watch Fox News". For a moment it seemed as if fans of Rupert Murdoch's "Fair and Balanced" propaganda machine were going to storm the enemy outpost.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's line denouncing economic pessimists as "girlie men" drew huge applause on Tuesday, none louder than from former president George Herbert Walker Bush. Dubya's 80-year-old dad, sitting in the "royal box" reserved for the Bush family, leapt to his feet cheering the Hollywood icon's words. Whatever happened to the George famously derided as suffering from "the wimp factor"?

Republicans have sent the federal budget deficit to record levels, but they're stingy as hell with their own dough. In Manhattan's plush hotels, staff are lamenting the "pathetic" tips. "They're always saying: 'God Bless You'," one complained. "I guess I'm used to something more tangible." Another was blunter. "They're even asking for the nearest laundromat. If you can't afford to travel, don't come."

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