Monday, November 24, 2003

Bush in England

I want to share another dispatch from an email group to which I belong. Schuyler Waynforth writes from England:

Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair came to town yesterday. They were accompanied by their wives and their many, many, many security people. We were kept on the green in front of our house with a metal barricade and a wall of police officers (from all over the region) between us and the armored cars they arrived in. I managed to catch glimpses of all the major figures. I first spotted Cherie Blaire with her wide grinning face peering out the window waving at what few protesters had figured out this was the way into the village, a few neighbors, ourselves, and the backs of what seemed at least 100 police. I must admit I had this wonderful fantasy of the police, in unison, mooning the president as he passed, their yellow and white reflective vests snapping in the movement of them lowering their pants and presenting for America's commander in chief. But, they remained vigilant and alert and didn't once acknowledge anything but those of us who stood in front of them. David swears he saw Laura Bush on the first pass, but I only managed an etching glimpse of George W. Bush, with his Charlie Brownish head, waving and smiling, sound-proofed away from the shouts of "Bush Go Home" and the general booing that surrounded me. I saw Blair as he greeted Bush. I had to stand on a pillar that once supported a fence that surrounded "our" front yard (the yard is really council property, but it is in front of our house, so I feel a bit possessive) leaning against David to really see if it was him.

No people but those chosen to meet with them were allowed within 100 yards of him. Two buses of select constituents were brought in to the Dun Cow Inn (I heard one reporter calling it the Cow Dun Inn or Cow Dung Inn, either way she was mistaken) to enjoy lunch with the families. The Dun Cow Inn got a new kitchen out of the deal. Some neighbors wondered at the health risks they had been taking eating there before this Friday. It's a good pub; probably one of the better pubs in the region, which is probably why Blair used it. Or else it's because it sits at a junction that allows for a number of exit routes and that gives a lot of control over how far people can be kept away. Not that they weren't prepared to lay siege from where they stood. 4 snipers were visible from where I stood and I suspect there were a few on the church tower and in other areas less visible to me.

On their way out I did spot Laura. She was sitting in a rear facing seat in one of the Suburbans brought over from the U.S. She was smiling and waving and looked overly made up and so very rigid.

After lunch they had gone to a local high school (or comprehensive college as they are known here) to see a few kids play football. The Guardian reported that those students who had left for lunch and had been told that they would be permitted to return if they could prove their identity were kept from returning if they were wearing anti-Bush or anti-Blair paraphernalia. I figured it was about the best example of free-speech practice that most students could possibly hope to get.

I found I didn't agree with many of the protesters slogans. They kept telling Bush to go home and to take his poodle with him. But I don't think Blair is Bush's poodle. I think Blair has wanted to go after Saddam Hussein for a while and this has been a good marriage for him. In 1999 Blair gave a speech in Chicago where he said we have Milosevic, now we need to get Hussein. I think the poodle position is a good one for Blair to hide behind. It is much better to let people believe you were following in good faith than encourage them to believe that you had your own blood-lust going. And getting out of Iraq is exactly what Bush wants to do. He wants to set up the commercial oil contracts for American corporations and then by June of 2004 he wants to be out of there at the behest of the new Iraqi government. It is getting too messy and too risky to stay until a stable government can be established. What I really wanted to shout was "Open your mind to new ideas!!!" "Come and live with us for a while and look at the world from a different perspective!!!" "Quit hiding behind security and cameras and sound bytes and money and people who think just like you think and look for a new view." But it's hard to make that sound snappy. And it doesn't fit well on a placard.

It was really exciting. I am so glad that it was here, even with the 1,000,000 pound price tag it carried. I don't know if our council taxes will have to cover the cost. Linnaea and Simon had fun drawing pictures of evil Bush and nice Bush (Linnaea's was the nice Bush, Simon has bought into our whole Bush is evil propaganda, however) and coloring in Go Away Bush signs. It was amazing to see all of the police. The village was so very different in the light of an American invasion.

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