Monday, August 02, 2004

I Ran the Son of a Bush Out of Town

On Saturday, a gray, rainy day, following Thursday's surveillance by a pair of Apache helicopters, George W. Bush came to my new home town of Canton, for much the same reason that I've come here - Stark County is a critical county in a critical swing state in the 2004 Presidential election. He spoke at an invitation-only event at the Civic Center, just a couple of blocks up from our campaign headquarters. I don't know what he said, but I'm sure it was the usual dishonest inflated puffery and self-congratulation, probably a call supporting the Hate Amendment and more tax cuts for his "haves and have-mores" base.

What I do know is that his presence did not go unremarked or unchallenged in this city of laborers, of unemployed workers, and of poor. We were out there by the hundreds, surrounding his venue and prepared with signs, strong voices, and high spirits. Where his motorcade - with two campaign buses, three press buses, countless police and sheriff's cars, communications vehicles, SWAT teams and Secret Service - entered the Civic Center, we were there. I was there. Signs read, "Where are the Jobs?," "Bush Lied," and "Help Is On The Way" (the last a quote from John Kerry's acceptance speech at the recently-concluded Democratic convention).

We protesters were not alone out there - the press was there, too, as well as at least one obvious infiltrator (clue to our nation's "intelligence" agencies - there's a difference between Hell's Angels bikers and pacifists and laborers. We're all anti-establishment, but we sport different threads). I haven't yet seen how much coverage the protests got, but if press reports don't mention them prominently, they are damned lies. We were there, and we will be there wherever the President chooses to speak. We are America.

George W. Bush wanted to follow up his speech at the Civic Center with a photo-op at a local restaurant, Lindsey's. But you know what? We were there, too. Someone in our network - maybe a worker at Lindsey's, maybe a friend of a friend of a friend - got word of his plans, and spread the word to protesters in the crowd. A number of us broke off and went to the Musicians' Local, right next door to Lindsey's; I walked there, about a mile down Market and another Mile along Tuscarawas, carrying my sign the whole way and getting friendly honks and waves from drivers. I held my sign out in front of the Musicians' Local, others held signs across the street, and pretty soon we had another nice crowd ready and waiting to greet George W. Bush.

But he didn't want to meet us. George W. Bush, you see, is afraid of regular Americans, afraid of alternative viewpoints, afraid of dissent. So his motorcade - buses, SWAT teams, Secret Service, and all - rode right on by and right on out of town.

You keep on running, Mr. Bush - you keep right on running back to Crawford, Texas. Any time you need another taste of Canton hospitality, just come on back. We'll be waiting for you.


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