I was reading a lot about the bombing in Madrid yesterday and forgot about Bush's visit to the Isle of Long. Read a lovely commentary in Tacitus about Spain. Reserving my opinion for now while I digest this.
Back to Bush on L.I.
First of all, Breslin wrote on March 10th that Bush's feet were NOT to touch the earth at all while in the park.
I didn't know we had so many cops in Nassau County. I wonder how much this is going to cost us? Seriously, we could have done some heavy looting anywhere else in Nassau County yesterday and gotten away with murder. The cops were everywhere in East Meadow and Westbury and the traffic was snarled as if the President were coming to town... oh wait!
The weather was unusually warm with a light breeze. My coat was too warm. The only entrance to Eisenhower where people could gather was the one on Hempstead Tpke. So that's where about 300 or so people gathered. It was mostly anti-Bush people but a few supporters showed up to spoil the fun.
I decided against infiltrating the 9/11 Groundbreaking Ceremony where 298 local victims were to be forever memorialized here in Nassau County by the lake at Eisenhower Park. I do have decorum... even if I am a blonde and I too was devastated over the loss of friends and neighbors on 9/11. I ran home and I watched that part on TV then ran back to join the protest again.
Ok, so here's the deal. The Preznit came to break ground at The Nassau County 9/11 memorial site. Nice gesture since he was already scheduled to raise money at the Carltun which is in the same park. Duh. It would have been better to protest Bush at the money raising event than the 9/11 event.
I will use some quotes from our hometown paper Newsday.
At the groundbreaking ceremony, Pat Kiefer of Franklin Square held aloft a photo of her son, New York firefighter Michael Kiefer, 25, who died at the World Trade Center. She shook Bush's hand but later had few kinds words for the president.
"Where was he before 9/11?" Kiefer said. "He should have been around before, knowing that our security was so lax. Somebody was asleep, and he should have known. Then my son and all these people would still be here."
Asked if such sentiments would lead her to vote for Kerry in November, Kiefer shook her head. "I will never vote again," she said. "I have no faith in any of them. The most important thing in my life was taken from me, and they could have prevented it. I will never forgive them for that."
I will put in a quote from a Bush supporter at the groundbreaking ceremony too. oy.
But Bill Lyons, whose sister, Maureen Olson of Rockville Centre, died in the attack, had a more positive reaction to Bush's visit. "I think it's a beautiful day, it's appropriate to build a memorial and it's appropriate for him to be here," said Lyons, who lives in Lynbrook.
Here's a video of the protest outside of the park! I'm not in it though. :(
The only speakers at the 15-minute ceremony were two clergymen, Msgr. Thomas Hartman of Rockville Centre and Rabbi Marc Gellman, president of the New York Board of Rabbis.
"We still feel the tears, we still feel the grief" Hartman said. Gellman said the Nassau memorial would be especially dear to the relatives of those honored because "it is more important to build a memorial near where they lived than to build a memorial near where they died."
These guys are known as the God Squad. The priest gave a short sermon about love and peace while the rabbi went on and on about war and bloodshed from the book of Deuteronomy. oh well. Different strokes for different folks. Guess the Catlicks on LI have enough to worry about with our Bishop being under seige for covering up all those pedophile priests.
So where was I? Oh yeah. Before BushCo came to East Meadow, he went to Bayshore in Suffolk County which is east of Nassau County. He spoke at an auto parts factory in front of a sign that read "Strengthening America's Economy." It was televised and I didn't really know what the hell he was trying to say as usual.. but this is from another column in Newsday, Paul Vitello
Security people kept reporters from interviewing the workers at U.S.A. until the president was gone.
But when workers were finally interviewed - these people who made up the bulk of the president's cheering audience in New York - Bush's performance turned out to be even more impressive.
"No speak English," said the first worker, smiling apologetically.
"No speak English," said the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth workers waylaid in the crowd.
It is possible that President Bush could have drawn a crowd of several hundred at lunchtime on the streets of Bay Shore to cheer his economic policies, which can be summed up in two words: tax cuts.
But if that crowd is ready-made - the workforce of a small auto parts factory whose owner has received tax breaks from the Republican-run state and town governments, and who employs large numbers of non-English speaking immigrants happy to work for $6 to $9 an hour with few benefits - why bother?
"I understand him a little bit English," said Nubia Guzman, a packer who said she earns $7.50 an hour after four years on a job that Bush had described in his speech as evidence of the success of his tax cutting economic policies. She has no health coverage.
What did you like about him? she was asked.
"He nice," she said.
This may be all that matters in the long run. The candidate who wins is usually the one people like the look and sound of, not the one they have listened closely to. In this particular crowd, anyway, there were probably few voters. Of those who spoke English, few said they were registered.
Does it matter to anyone but a literal-minded person that the "crowd" at a campaign stop is not quite "real"?
It is the not-so-secret secret of every presidential campaign that most crowds at most campaign stops are so much stage prop. They are there to make a certain amount of noise, to look like a constituency the candidate hopes to win the votes of - in the Bay Shore factory, Hispanic voters - and to be as unsurprising and well-behaved as security arrangements can make them.
The campaigner is the only one with a speaking part. And in yesterday's performance, Bush was a star. It almost didn't matter that most of his audience didn't understand a word he said. He gave off an aura of optimism.
In fact, he used the word optimism at least eight times. "I hope you get a feeling of the optimism ... " he said. "It's gotta make you optimistic ... " he said. "I am very optimistic . .. "
Optimism poured out of him. He was as upbeat as those people who do hour-long infomercials. Optimism apparently will be one of the themes of the campaign. You don't have to like Bush to see the brilliance of it.
It is the counter-punch to the attack of his Democratic presumed opponent, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who criticizes Bush for what he terms Bush's failures: failures of economic policy, of foreign policy, of political vision.
If you can't answer charges of failure with proof of success, optimism is the next best thing.
Optimism is a deep vein in all people, Americans especially; and if Bush succeeds at bottling it, he wins.
What would you like to do with your life?, a shipping clerk at U.S.A. Industries named Wil Romero was asked. He is 26 years old. He thought for a moment, as friends from the factory passed by, speaking Spanish among themselves. Some waved at him. The sun shined.
"I would like to be an American citizen," he said.
Now that was priceless. It's like another Turkey in Iraq photo op!