The most disruptive part of Paul Ryan's speech last night, aside from those not-quite-truths, came when two hecklers from the female anti-war group Code Pink pulled off the most successful protester infiltration yet at this year's conventions — and maybe the last one. Just as Ryan finished reading the words "...that have no place in a free country" (he was talking about Obamacare), the two women appeared by Mitt Romney's VIP box, depending on whose coverage you were following, there was a sign, maybe a couple inaudible yells. Knoxnews.com's Greg Johnson was right next to the kerfluffle:
It happened so quickly I could only get a glimpse of the banner, enough to make out the word "Vagina" in black letters on the pink background. One woman, middle-aged (or perhaps a bit past) with bobbed blond hair, started shouting, "Hands off my healthcare" The younger of the two, a brown-haired woman appearing to be in her 20s, waved the banner and chanted, "My body, my choice."
And here's video from USA Today's Susan Davis:
Granted, Code Pink's protests earlier this week at the Republican National Convention, complete with vagina costumes, garnered them novelty attention, which they kept up with trying to perform a citizen's arrest on former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and heckling Rick Santorum. But infiltrating the heavy security of the RNC, and then interrupting the biggest event of the convention so far, has been the highlight so far for the 10-year-old organization.
"Code Pink is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end U.S. funded wars and occupations, to challenge militarism globally, and to redirect our resources into health care, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities," reads their official website. The health care angle is the center of this protest against the RNC. They add:
We have become famous for confronting the warmongers, whether in the halls and hearing rooms of Congress, the national conventions of both the Republicans and Democrats, George Bush's fundraisers, the publicity tours of Karl Rove, Condi Rice, Donald Rumsfeld and others, and Nancy Pelosi's house.
That doesn't sound unlike parts and portions of the Occupy Movement. But Code Pink is tighter and better funded. "I think people did expect a large crowd because of Occupy Wall Street, but Occupy Wall Street tends to be very poor people. To get the funds to come all the way to Tampa is a really tough thing to do," founder Medea Benjamin told The Daily Beast in a recent interview.
Getting to Tampa is one thing. Getting past the heavy security there is another. "Still, after the close encounter with Code Pink, I had to wonder how the heck they got in the convention in the first place," wrote Johnson, referencing the Tampa Bay Times Forum's tight security and credential-heavy protocol. "I had credentials," is all Ally McCracken, Code Pink's D.C. Coordinator, would tell the Global Post.
So the next question, with protests expected to be lighter at next week's Democratic convention, is what's next for Code Pink? Well, according to their website, today will be the group's final convention rally, and founder Medea Benjamin will speak. Which sounds pretty, well, mundane for this ballsy crew. But then again, Paul Ryan's speech wasn't on the agenda last night, and there's always Clint Eastwood.