Thursday, August 12, 2004

The President was in town yesterday for a campaign rally at the Coliseum. The wife and I signed up for event volunteer duty, so we got to see Bush up close for the first time. If you’ve never been to a Presidential rally, I recommend you stop by the next time one rolls into town. It was like being was in the middle of mosh pit surrounded by 15,000 hooting partisans. What a show!

Prior to snagging prime standing room on the floor close to the stage (picture us casually flashing of our Bush/Cheney ’04 All-Access Volunteer passes. Oooh…), the wife and I manned the entrance to Section 215, the VIP area reserved for elected officials, party honchos, veterans, and such. Despite a large sign above our heads which clearly read “Red Tickets”, we quickly found ourselves inundated by all sorts of illiterates brandishing yellow tickets. For 2 hours, I found myself doing my best Bill Murray impression from Groundhog Day:

“Can I sit there?”

“No, ma’am. This section is reserved for people with red tickets.”

“But I have yellow tickets.”

“Yes, ma’am. Yes, you do.”

I did, however, allow for two glaring exceptions to the Red Ticket Only policy. A couple of gentleman with yellow tickets ignored my spiel and discretely showed me snazzy plastic cards. I didn’t make out exactly what they were, but I did see the phrases “Republican National Committee” and “Life Member” imprinted boldly on them. Not wanting to piss off people who obviously made sizable donations to the party, I let them through. If there’s a state legislator out there who found himself without a VIP seat yesterday, I apologize, but I’m willing to bet you would have done the same.

Ticket vetting monotony aside, we did get some excitement in Section 215. One elderly woman passed out from heat stroke after waiting in line for a couple of hours in the 112°F heat. The EMTs set up shop a few feet from us to administer oxygen and fluids to her. A few minutes later, two Coliseum custodial employees got into some sort of an altercation in the bathroom adjoining our section. This was probably not the best day for a toilet stall brawl, as the jostling janitors were swarmed by an assortment of police and Secret Service agents before any punches were thrown.

Later, from my vantage point on the arena floor, the event seemed to have gone quite smoothly. The volunteers were instructed to be on the lookout for Anti-Bush rabble-rousers who might sneak in to stir up trouble. True to form, the Botox boosters did show up; we saw two commies removed from Section 216 after holding up Bush bashing signs, but that was it.

As for the news coverage of the event, I found it balanced for the most part, with a couple of notable exceptions, however. On the ABC 15 evening newscast, a Botox staffer was whining because she was denied entrance to the event due to her political affiliations. Boo-friggin’-hoo. She claimed some sort of constitutional privilege of hers was violated, and that the Democrats don’t screen Republicans from their rallies. Yeah, right.

Fox 10, of all stations, tried to portray the event as a gathering of Bible-thumping zealots. The reporter on the scene said the event resembled a “religious revival”. His commentary was followed by a quick shot of a sign reading “God Bless the President”, and a snippet of Bush’s stump speech where he says, “Freedom is not America's gift to the world. Freedom is the Almighty God's gift to each man and woman in this world.”

Religious revival, my ass. Do a search of the stump speech for the word “God” and tell me how many hits you get? If your answer is 2, you’re correct. How many religious sermons have you heard that mention God only twice in an hour? Remind me to send Fox 10 a terse letter on the insidious nature of liberal bias in the nation’s newsrooms.

Anyway, I was suitably impressed with the event, and look forward to pitching in for the next one. Then again, maybe I shouldn’t be so anxious for another rally. I’d hate to see the campaign waste valuable resources on Arizona if it’s not truly a swing state.


At 8/14/2004 7:23 AM, Blogger Mary said...


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