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Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Thanks for the Goons 

Owing, no doubt, to his limited skill at extemporization, President Bush must rely on brute force to ensure that the adoring crowds who come to watch him work his oratorical magic are free of potential hecklers. (The urbane and polished Dick Cheney, on the other hand, prefers a rather more civilized expedient: paperwork.)

Wouldn't it be nice to have a First Couple who could handle a crowd full of dissenters and rowdies and beer-soaked goopers without having to fence them off in a First Amendment pen?
"Everything is at stake!" Kerry told thousands of supporters who packed into Pere Marquette Park and lined the opposite side of the river. "Jobs! Health care! Education! Civil liberties! Civil rights! The Constitution! Social Security! Medicare! Our children! The environment! Our future! All of it is on the line."

The high-stakes intensity of the campaign could also be seen Monday in noisy confrontations between Kerry and Bush supporters and the use of bullhorns and air horns by a small group of Bush supporters to try to disrupt the speeches, prompting Kerry and his wife to respond to what the candidate termed "goons."

While she was introducing her husband, Teresa Heinz Kerry referred to the group's audible call for "Four more years."

Said Heinz Kerry, "They want four more years of hell."

The Kerry crowd followed with chants of "Three more months."

Kerry also responded to the pro-Bush chanters, saying they wanted to "drown people out" with their megaphones.

"We don't want to be drowned out," Kerry said. "I want to thank George Bush for sending the goons here tonight to excite us to do a little more work! Thank you!"
UPDATE (8/4): The Springfield (MO) News-Leader reports on a recent (and typical) Bush rally:
But when police told protesters they had to move about 200 feet away, while the people supporting Bush remained in place, the atmosphere grew tense. When protesters complained to local police, they replied, "We're just following orders." Then the protesters called the media: It was time for citizens to know how democracy was working in Springfield, as protesters had been herded into a "free speech zone."

When gatekeepers announced final seating for those with tickets, protesters with tickets tried to get in, but their tickets were grabbed and torn up, and police threatened them with arrest if they argued back. One woman screamed, "You're tearing up my ticket," and hit back at the man when he started shoving her with his chest, trying to shut her up. The police arrested the woman. Two other people were "taken down": a young girl who could not back up fast enough because there were so many people behind her and a man who is charged with trespassing because he was standing on property his own tax dollars partially funded.

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