The blow-dried corporate media would have to cover this event. After all, I had just watched Anderson Cooper on CNN do the standard "I 'm in the rain, I can barely talk, I can 't see, it 's like a white out " routine about Hurricane Rita in Texas. This meant, of course, that Lady Rita was no Katrina. Surely Cooper 's hairdresser could get out the blow-dryer and put him on a quick flight to Washington where the real action was on Saturday.
The hurricane that blew into the nation 's capital was historic: a turning point that marks the death of the Bush presidency. Nothing short of burning the Library of Congress can save W. Rove is probably secretly polling on that option as I write.
I knew the rally was going to be huge when the majority of the people on my transportation pod at Dulles were dressed in peace signs, with signs, talking about the protest. Three middle-aged women were saying that this was the first time they had ever flown to a protest.
But the third tell was the unbelievable crush on the Metro that I rode in from Bethesda. This was desperate Third World style standing-room-only as the door slammed on me twice before I barely wedged in. The protest signs made the destination a foregone conclusion.
The Washington Post reported that by 5pm on Saturday, Sept. 24, the Metro rail ridership was 292,771, contrasted to 173,572 on an average Saturday. The AP picked a nice round number of 100,000 demonstrators, the Columbus Dispatch put it at "thousands " in the headline. The fact that the mainstream corporate media has to lie so shamelessly about a rally where there were at least 250,000 people, is telling.
Even more telling that the rally marked the death knell of the Bush presidency was the composition of the crowd. It was not the usual activist leftie suspects: three generations of families were proudly marching together; the freshly scrubbed Iraqi Veterans Against the War wearing fatigues looked like they just stepped down from an Army "Be all you can be " military poster; and Republicans for Impeachment were indeed real Republicans and not a San Francisco Mime Troupe spoof.
W had done it. He was in fact the "great uniter. " No president in our lifetime, not even Nixon, has succeeded in putting so many normal middle-of-the-road Americans into the streets.
And there would have been more had not massive Metro system and Amtrak train failure not conveniently intervened to hold up tens of thousands of demonstrators from reaching Washington DC.
The Washington Post reported these incidents on page A14, a good place to hide an article. Still, the headline suggests the real story: "Weekend protesters hit travel snags. "
The Sunday, Sept. 25 Post reported: "When the 6a.m. Amtrak train pulled out of New York 's Pennsylvania station yesterday and then turned around and went back instead of going to Washington, one thought ran through the minds of many anti-war demonstrators aboard: It was Karl Rove 's fault. "
The Post, per usual, refuses to consider that just like Mussolini, who made the trains run on time, Karl Rove, a Machiavellian, would do anything to prop up his twitchy, glazed and embattled prince. The official explanation is that it was "caused by a beam that fell onto wires on a track in New Jersey. " In all, twelve Amtrak trains between New York and Washington were disrupted and one was canceled.
"Metro riders encountered delays as well because trains on the blue and yellow lines in northern Virginia were sharing a single track to allow to repair work on a switch at Braddock Road, " according to the Post. The paper duly noted that the repair had been planned "for several weeks. " They failed to report that the rally had been planned for several months.
Still, the people came in near record numbers. At one point, there was actual human gridlock with possibilities of suffocation from the tightly packed throng of marchers.
The speakers, alternately between the strident rhetoric of the ANSWER coalition and the less histrionic United for Peace and Justice members mattered little. While ANSWER was shouting about a Trotskyist-style "united front " of progressives, the people in the street represented a far more diverse popular front against the president. I 've never seen so many veterans for peace at an anti-war rally.
The illegality of the war was captured on thousands of signs including mine, which simply read "Bush would be guilty at Nuremberg. " With the curtain drawn back after the catastrophe in New Orleans, the wizardry of the great and powerful Oz is no longer working. More than one sign and T-shirt bore the inscription: "Make levees, not war. "
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