Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Presidential Advance Manual--Let's just say we're both wrong
Nicole and Jeff Rank
The following is from a Slate.com August 20, 2007 article by Dahlia Lithwick regarding "tips for dealing with demonstrators from the Presidential Advance Manual."
"Late last week, the federal government settled a lawsuit with a pair of Texans who were arrested in 2004 for wearing anti-Bush T-shirts at a Fourth of July event in Charleston, W.Va. That's right, friends, $80,000 (of your taxpayer dollars) will be paid out to Jeff and Nicole Rank, whose suit against Gregory J. Jenkins—former deputy assistant to the president and director of the White House Office of Presidential Advance—has been dismissed.
"White House spokesman Blair Jones managed to turn lemons into lemonade with the statement last week that "the parties understand that this settlement is a compromise of disputed claims to avoid the expenses and risks of litigation and is not an admission of fault, liability, or wrongful conduct." This is, of course, vintage Bush, gloriously reminiscent of that Simpsons episode in which Homer arrives late to collect Bart in the pouring rain after soccer practice, then lectures: "I know you're mad at me right now, and I'm kinda mad, too. I mean, we could sit here and try to figure out who forgot to pick up who till the cows come home. But let's just say we're both wrong, and that'll be that."
"...Lest you believe that the Big Brother sheet represents the full extent of the speech suppression, however, the manual provides that, "As a last resort, security should remove the demonstrators from the event."
"The Advance Manual's finest moments come in its urgent, earnest drive to protect not just the television cameras but also the president himself from the ugliness of the dread "demonstrators." Certainly, "if it is determined that the media will not see or hear" demonstrators, event staff can ignore them. But event staff must involve themselves in "designating a protest area preferably not in view of the event site or motorcade route." In other words, all this suppression of dissent isn't just to create a puppet show for the cameras. It's also about sock puppets for the president, who—if he could just be shielded from the mean T-shirts—might still believe his approval ratings soar into the mid-90s. The Ranks' peaceful protest at the West Virginia state capitol somehow became an act of "trespassing" only because the president was there.
"It's disturbing enough to learn from the Advance Manual that the White House has adopted an official policy of shouting down or covering up dissenting viewpoints with large sheets in order to deceive Americans at home into believing the president is universally adored. But that this official policy also exists to protect the tender sensitivities of the president himself is beyond belief..."