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Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
On Politics / David Postman
By David Postman
He's in Boston as a "super delegate," a position given elected officials, party leaders and, in Washington, former House speakers.
Foley, 75, is a D.C. lobbyist these days. But he watches Washington politics carefully and will be in the state next week to help Democrats recover his lost congressional seat and give Sen. Patty Murray a boost over the man who cost Foley his political career.
Foley said yesterday he will do fund-raisers for Don Barbieri, the Spokane Democrat running in the 5th Congressional District, who he thinks has a good chance to reclaim the seat Foley held for 30 years.
It's an open race because incumbent Rep. George Nethercutt, R-Spokane, who beat Foley in 1994, is running for U.S. Senate against Murray.
"I don't have any animus toward George," Foley said. "But Patty is a friend."
Foley also watches House races across the country, though he doesn't get the detailed district-by-district briefings from his speaker days.
He thinks it'll be tough for Democrats to take control of the House. Foley said redistricting has hardened many districts into safe seats for incumbents.
"It's possible. Nothing would please me more than to see Nancy Pelosi sworn in as Speaker of the House," Foley said of the California congresswoman now serving as House minority leader.
Foley arrives in Boston as Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt begins what amounts to a retirement tour.
Gephardt, two-time presidential candidate, announced after dropping out of the Democratic primary race that this is his last year in office.
Foley looks great. He joked that his wife, Heather, worries he doesn't eat enough, but says he feels fit and still works out regularly.
Life in the protest pen
Each day of the Democratic National Convention, Paul Shanley comes to the designated protest pen to exercise his free-speech rights: He yells at protesters.
"Blah, blah, blah, blippity blah. That's all that's coming out of your mouth," Shanley was yelling yesterday at a man who came from Washington, D.C., to organize anti-abortion protests.
It's not that Shanley is here as a pro-choice advocate. He's just tired of hearing protesters complain about being restricted to the official protest zone. "I'm sick of their crying," he said. "There are laws in this country and you have to follow them."
Shanley argued with Patrick Mahoney, 51, the bullhorn-wielding director of the D.C.-based Christian Defense Coalition.
The 28,000-square-foot protest pen, built to contain what city officials expected would be large, disruptive protests, has a certain post-industrial-meltdown look to it. Chain-link fencing, large steel girders holding up the roadway above, the ground filling with protest graffiti along the lines of "Pens are for animals, not people."
What protests there were yesterday afternoon were mostly in protest of the protest pen.
Mahoney's group sued, and a judge said the containment zone was "an affront to free expression," but reportedly said there was no safe alternative.
Mahoney heads a group of a couple of dozen protesters, mostly young people. He led them out of the protest area on their way to lunch, not a police confrontation.
Elaine Sokoloff, who works nearby, asked if she could take a picture of two interesting-looking protesters, one in a Mohawk and rivet-clad jeans, the other with bright green hair and a bandanna covering his face. She ended up having her photo taken with the two young men.
She wondered why they couldn't be allowed to protest on the empty, closed streets surrounding the FleetCenter, where restaurants and pubs were doing a brisk business. There, too, the streets were filling with chalk graffiti, though the issues differed. Read one:
"Beer and food are a right just like free speech."
How to be a "filler"
If you are one of the small group of people who watch the convention on television, you'll see a group of well-dressed people sitting on the stage behind the speaker's podium.
Good chance they're not doing anything but sitting there. They are fillers, sitting for two-hour shifts because, apparently, convention organizers feel the stage needs a human presence.
But like everything here, it's a carefully controlled human presence.
From behind a curtain on an upper floor of the FleetCenter, a booming voice could be heard giving instructions to the next shift of seat-fillers about to take the stage.
"No food or drink. No photography. No cellphones. NO CELLPHONES. Don't even try to put the earpiece in and try to be sly." The group laughed, but the drill continued: "Do not fall asleep. It's happened, don't laugh."
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