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Friday, July 09, 2004

Yup.  It's true.  I saw Pres. Bush for about 15 seconds as his campaign bus tooled by in downtown Lancaster.  As much as I hate to admit it, he looked good:  happy, trim and relaxed.  He was plainly enjoying himself as he ignored our signs and waved to the other side of the street.

Had no problems standing on the sidewalk waiting for the Golden Boy to come along.  A cop on a handsome spotted horse named Duke stopped by to let us know that when the motorcade passed, they'd need us to remain on the curb.

By the time that rolled around, nearly an hour later, we'd collected perhaps 30 or 35 protestors on our corner, with perhaps another 15 or 20 down the block on the other side of the street.  We thoroughly drowned out the 15 or 20 pro-Bush demonstrators who held good-natured slogan chanting contests with us.  

Likewise, our signs thoroughly outnumbered and outwitted them.  Some of us dweebs held up simple John Kerry bumper stickers (the local Dem. council is out of yard signs), but others got a little more creative:  "Bush Administration:  Moral Bankruptcy," "No billionaires left behind," or my favorite:  "Bush:  Lies, Lies, Unnecessary War, More Lies."

There was only one truly obnoxious Bushita, a mid-50s black Pentecostal who held a sign saying on the one side "We love you, George W. Bush!!  God loves you!!" and on the other, "COME TO THE CHURCH OF THE FATHER, SON AND HOLY GHOST."  She ranted for almost twenty minutes about how much God wanted us all to vote Republican, practically dancing with excitement.  She yelled the Lord's Prayer and read from the Bible, much to the consternation of two other black ladies about her age on our side of the street.  "Shut the hell up!" one of them muttered.  "Hey lady!" the other one called.  "It's Friday!  Save your church for Sunday!!"  I got a big laugh by yelling "I BELIEVE IN GOD, AND I'M VOTING FOR JOHN KERRY!!!  CAN I GET AN AMEN?"

A reporter for some paper or another floated over to ask me my name and why I was protesting.  I responded that Bush had led us into an unnecessary war, lied to the American public more times than we could count, and oppressed the poor and helpless.  That seemed to satisfy her.

Between then and the arrival of the motorcade, the only excitement was bumping into the head of the Lancaster Young Democrats, and having to admit sheepishly that I don't have time to come to their meetings anymore.

But then a state police chopper drifted into position, and a couple of minutes later, about 20 motorcycles roared down the street.  Next was five or seven patrol cars, three police vans, a few escort cars, and finally, three campaign buses, a bus for local dignitaries, another for press and a smaller one for the local pool, about five black marias, a bomb unit, the White House communications van, another bomb squad, and at least a dozen chase vehicles.  

The cops held us on the sidewalk until the last straggling domestic sedan zipped by with its lights flashing, then waved us on.  I went over and gave Duke a couple of pats and told him he'd been a good boy.  He didn't seem to care.

All in all, it was a pretty good time.  You couldn't have asked for better weather:  highs in the upper 70s, low humidity.  You couldn't have asked for nicer people to hang out with:  one kid was handing out Lois Herr leaflets; a woman told me she'd been a life-long Republican up until W. came along. 

The only annoyance was a guy who wanted me to sign nominating papers for Jim Clymer.  I'd be happy to see him help defeat Arlen Specter, but I'll be damned if I'll help him to do it.

And on the way home, an unexpected bonus.  As I walked by the main park downtown, I saw a little goshawk swoop up into its hiding place under the branches of a tree.

Now if only we'd been welcoming John Kerry instead of booing George W....

[UPDATE:] I just thunk of something. It really does do a heart good to see W. I walked about 20 minutes down and back to the protest, and of course your heart always gets racing when you hear the police hogs rumbling down the street. Almost works off that burrito I had for dinner.


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