Party for the President
A few days ago I went to hear the President talk about Social Security. I brought along a little notebook where I took notes. Here are those notes:
March 4, 2005
I?m sitting on a shuttle bus half-filled with people taking us to the Westfield Armory. At the Armory, we will hear President Bush talk to us about his plan to save Social Security. The event is being billed as a "Town Hall Meeting". I am surrounded by Republicans and for the first time since I discovered I'd have to attend, I am happy at the prospect. I find myself curious about what the day will bring. Will it be a pep rally or a real dialogue about the pros and cons of the situation?
I?m standing in the longest line ever to get into the building and a group of secret service types just walked past us and it was like a scene from Reservoir Dogs. They were way too cool to be looking at us but we stared openly as they strode by with their ear pieces, heavy overcoats and shades.
It?s freezing out here in this damn line. The SWAT Team just showed up and we all had to move out of the way so that they could get by with their armored vans. The Marines are here and the Army, too. I wonder where the hell the Navy and the Air Force are. Slackers.
I totally should have brought a book.
I?m finally inside and it?s a madhouse. I ran into someone I know while I was trying to find a seat. She and her husband arrived here this morning at six and then stood out in the cold until the doors opened at eight. I finally found a seat way in the back, about level with the camera crews. The mood is decidedly jubilant.
There?s a blowhard sitting behind me who will not shut up.
I really, really, really, really should have brought a book.
Lot?s of people brought their kids and all the little boys are dressed in collared shirts and sweater vests. It?s like an Alex P. Keaton fan club meeting in here.
Blowhard is still not shutting up.
I?m starting to get hungry.
~~At this point I ran into someone I knew and couldn?t make any more notes but later, on the ride back to my car on the shuttle bus this is what I wrote:
Pep Rally. Total freaking pep rally. People were yelling, hooting, screaming, hollering, chanting
! ?George Bush! clapclapclap! George Bush! clapclapclap!? Or ?Four More Years! Four More Years!? Or, as was the case of the blowhard behind me, sporadic bursts of ?YEAH!? peppered throughout the event.
Bush first touched on the mid-East and the spread of democracy, but then really got going on Social Security. The ?panel? he had up there with him was a perfect cross-section of America. He had a middle aged woman who is a professor at Wharton Business School, a retiree from Long Island, a mother with five kids, a Latino fire fighter who also owns his own real estate business, and a 23-year-old business man.
All were heavily in favor of Bush?s plan. I know, I was shocked, too.
I kept waiting for someone to ask a question and really get the ?Town Hall Meeting? part of the event going, but it never happened. Bush talked, then he gave the mike to each of his panelists and they parroted him and then it was over. OVER!
I guess I'm not sure why I'm surprised. Way back when I first heard about this I flippantly remarked to someone, "We'll go, he'll lie, I'll be back for lunch." Who knew I would be so close to the truth?
Because some of the roads here are closed, the shuttle buses are awkwardly trying to navigate the narrow streets of this little Jersey town. One of my fellow passengers just said of a sad group of straggely protestors, ?Run ?em over!? Now THAT?S compassionate conservatism. Really warms the heart.
It must be really nice to be a Republican. You never have to worry about anyone but yourself and your biggest fear is that the libs might get into power and try to give some of your money away to the undeserving poor.