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McCain at New School: Honeymoon is Over

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  • Ram Lau
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/thenation/20060519/cm_thenation/1585098 McCain at New School: Honeymoon is Over The NationFri May 19, 5:22 PM ET The Nation --
    Message 1 of 1 , May 20, 2006
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/thenation/20060519/cm_thenation/1585098
      McCain at New School: Honeymoon is Over

      The NationFri May 19, 5:22 PM ET

      The Nation -- 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 consider this a time of crisis and I feel compelled to speak," Rohe
      continued, referencing McCain's speech at Falwell's Liberty University
      last Saturday.

      She paraphrased McCain's words on the folly of youthful stubbornness
      and ignorance.

      "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?" Kerrey cracked before
      introducing McCain.

      The Senator spoke in a dull monotone, without his usual charisma or
      charm. He was noticeably deflated by the crowd's harsh reception
      towards him. Remarks such as "I supported the decision to go to war in
      Iraq," were met with loud boos.

      "I stand that ground because I believed, rightly or wrongly, that my
      country's interests and values required it."

      "Wrongly!" one student boomed from the back. Sitting directly behind
      us, Maureen Dowd and Adam Nagourney of the New York Times, chuckled.

      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."
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