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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Go Home, McCain

As welcome as the Yankees at Shea

McCain at New School: Honeymoon is Over
Ari Berman

Co-written by Sam Graham-Felsen

I haven't heard anyone aroused about me speaking at the New School," John McCain said in April, defending his decision to address Jerry Falwell's Liberty University.

Nobody at all, except for virtually the entire crowd at the New School's Madison Square Garden graduation ceremony in New York City. At the beginning of the event, New School President, and former Senator, Bob Kerrey predicted a raucous affair. "Our founding purpose is proudly liberal," he said. "We began as an act of protest."

The school's tradition of dissent carried on today. Scores of New School students held orange signs, and a few banners, reading "McCain Does Not Speak For Me," and "Our Commencement Is Not Your Platform." What began as mild rumblings of disapproval before McCain's speech soon exploded into boos, catcalls and turned backs.

The spark was provided by undergraduate keynote speaker Jean Sara Rohe, a composed, seemingly innocuous jazz musician and singer. After beginning with a short folk song (true to classic graduation speech form) Rohe quickly tossed aside her prepared remarks to directly address McCain.

"This ceremony has become something other than the celebratory gathering it should be," Rohe said. "The Senator does not reflect the ideals on which this school was founded. This was a top-down decision in which the students played no part." The crowd erupted.


"I am young, but I do know that pre-emptive war is dangerous and wrong," she said. "Osama bin Laden has not been found, nor those weapons of mass destruction." The vast majority of the crowd gave her a standing ovation.

"Well, we're having fun now, aren't we?" Kerry cracked before introducing McCain.


As McCain droned on, students became increasingly restless. One cried, "This speech sucks!" Several students walked out early.

Summing up the mood of the day, another shouted, "We're graduating, not voting."

posted by Steve @ 12:08:00 AM

12:08:00 AM

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