Students at New York's New School gave an earful to Senator John McCain on Friday, in one of the most public rebukes he has received on his tumultuous college speaking tour.
According to Newsday, part of the ceremony was "overshadowed" by Jean Sara Rohe, a senior who threw out her prepared remarks to give a courageous counterpoint to McCain's recent grandstanding:
"The senator does not reflect the ideals upon which this university was founded," Rohe proclaimed to loud cheers, with McCain sitting just a few feet away. She added that she knew what McCain would be saying to the graduates since he had promised to deliver the same speech he gave at Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University last weekend and Columbia University on Tuesday. "He will tell us we are young and too naive to have valid opinions," Rohe said. "I am young and though I don't possess the wisdom that time affords us, I do know that pre-emptive war is dangerous. And I know that despite all the havoc that my country has wrought overseas in my name, Osama bin Laden still has not been found, nor have those weapons of mass destruction." Indeed, it was McCain's decision to address Liberty that set off the protests at the New School during the past several weeks.
The protests continued right through McCain's speech, according to The Nation's Ari Berman: "What began as mild rumblings of disapproval before McCain's speech soon exploded into boos, catcalls and turned backs."
Just before McCain's infamous speech at Liberty University, I predicted on HuffingtonPost that if he gave the speech without confronting Falwell's bigotry, he'd feel the blowback at the New School:
If McCain panders at Liberty, the follow-up reception he gets at the New School on May 19 might just expose the first cracks in his popularity on the left. Somehow, McCain has remained Democrats' favorite Republican -- 57% of Democrats viewed him favorably in March. Some people may change their minds as they learn more about him.
And that is exactly what is happening. The New School met the New McCain -- a self-proclaimed maverick who panders to bigots and supports President Bush's every failure -- and it looks like people don't like the New McCain.