04 September 2007

Freedom's Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Say

This, in it's entirety, is from The Week. George, the boy in the bubble.

Free Speech

How Bush avoids dissent.

The Bush administration may not know how to plan for a hurricane or a war, said The New York Times in an editorial. But never let it be said it can’t plan a political rally. As a result of a lawsuit by two protesters and the American Civil Liberties Union, the White House has been forced to release a manual that details how President Bush’s speeches and other public appearances have been “micromanaged and laboriously controlled for the past five years to weed out the merest whiff of protest.” All those attending Bush public events, the manual instructs, are to be carefully chosen, with attendees searched for concealed anti-Bush banners. Seats closest to the stage are to be reserved for “extremely supportive” fans of the president. In the terrible event that a heckler somehow gets within earshot of the media covering the speech, a “rally squad” is to surround him waving pro-Bush placards and chanting “USA! USA!” Every modern administration has stage-managed public events to some degree, of course, but this White House’s obsessive suppression of dissent is “out of place in a democracy.”

It’s even creepier than that, said Dahlia Lithwick in Slate.com. Dissent wasn’t banned at these rallies just for the sake of creating an image of a president “universally adored” by his people. It was also banned “to protect the tender sensitivities of the president himself.” Protesters, the manual commands, were also to be kept out of range of the presidential motorcade, thus sparing Bush the unpleasantness of knowing there are people who disagree with him. Now we know why Laura Bush says she doesn’t believe her husband’s abysmal poll numbers, said Tim Grieve in Salon.com. The first couple travels everywhere in a bubble of stage-managed love. Bush himself has said that one “‘amazing’ part of the presidency” is the support he gets on the road from ordinary Americans. “Amazing? Not so much.”

There’s a bitter irony here, said USA Today in an editorial. The White House’s Presidential Advance Manual was released to the public only after a lawsuit was brought by a West Virginia couple, Nicole and Jeffrey Rank, who were handcuffed, arrested, fingerprinted, and briefly jailed for wearing anti-Bush T-shirts at an Independence Day speech the president gave in 2004. After the Ranks had been hustled away, Bush told the extremely supportive crowd this: “On this Fourth of July, we confirm our love of freedom, the freedom for people to speak their minds. ... Free thought, free expression, that’s what we believe.” Too bad he forgot to tell his advance team.


Life Hiker said...

The #1 sign of an insecure person or a dunce is that they don't feel comfortable arguing their points. Instead, they puff up their chests and pronounce their opinions or positions absent dissenters. For my money, Bush's political life is indicative of both insecurity and dimwittedness. No wonder he's surrounded by minders.

Anonymous said...

Watch the story on "Hardball" - complete with their lawsuit against the US gov't and their settlement


Ron Davison said...

Bush is going to keep psychological analysts busy for generations - as will the generation that twice put him in office.

Thanks for pointing me to that. Amazing story - just ridiculous.