Report from the Throng


You can find reports on today's antiwar marches all over the Web; here's an optimistic one from New Yorker Phil Leggiere. "A cynic might try to describe the throngs as a cacophony of special interest groups," he writes, "but as one who's been (periodically) to large peace demonstrations since the mid-70s (and is predisposed in many ways to cynicism about political demonstrations) this one feels qualitatively different. Less politically sectarian and far more widely gauged in terms of age and social groups." Leggiere adds that he "can remember going to the huge anti-nuclear march in 1982 and thinking that, despite the crowds, Reagan-Haig and company had very little to fear from the movement, which could [be] (and was) dismissed as a '60s' holdover." Not so this time.

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  1. It’s worth noting that this is not what Peter Bagge felt, evidently. Then again, maybe he’s just a cynic, eh? Frankly, as a native New Yorker, the message I get from the anti-war-rally crowd is mainly this: war bad, graffiti A-OK. (Any other New Yorker should know what I’m talking about.) I wonder if these people actually think they’re going to stop the war. How many of them voted for Bush last go-round? How many of them were planning to vote for him next time, before he started talking about war? Do they think Bush really cares what they think?

  2. YOU ASKED: “Do they think Bush really cares what they think?”

    For THE ANSWER, see today’s 2nd Top Story on Fox’s website (or go here):,2933,78698,00.html

    HINT: It’s titled: “Back to The Drawing Board.”

  3. JD Weiner says, “I wonder if these people actually think they’re going to stop the war. How many of them voted for Bush last go-round? How many of them were planning to vote for him next time, before he started talking about war? Do they think Bush really cares what they think?”

    That would have been a very good point during the early stages of the protests. You’re right to say that most of the antiwar crowd would never have voted for Bush anyway, and that most Republicans aren’t going to cross the line and join the antiwar protesters.

    But the antiwar movement is getting bigger and more mainstream, and it’s bringing in quite a number of moderates, centrists, and swing voters who could just as easily voted for Bush. Usually, it’s those moderates and swing voters that get presidents like Bush or Clinton elected, and it’s those people who ultimately make or break an issue — not partisan liberals or conservatives. And if the swing voters and the fence-sitters were to decide that this war is a bad idea, Bush would be very foolish not to listen to them.

  4. It was a very bad weekend for the Bushies. Even the media whores are now asking the hard questions and pointing out the gross inconsistencies in our foreign non-policies. The troops are already on the ground, though, and there’s no way they’re coming home without a fight. I am shocked and awed.

  5. One more small point to add — when I talk about “fence-sitters,” I’m not only referring to centrists and swing voters. I’m also including those people who usually don’t vote at all (half the electorate at any given time) yet could be swayed to vote against Bush if the war becomes unpopular enough among the general public.

  6. Right on, Johnny. And the overseas leaders are seeing the same thing. Practically every one who was bullied and bribed into this months ago are seeing their support at home going down the drain. The divide between the government and the governed is getting very wide – everywhere.

  7. Jay: Granted, public support is important (I think it was Sun Tzu who said something like “He who does not have the people has nothing”), But I think it may be more important to foreign leaders than to Bush, as they can either look like US lapdogs, or like independents, whereas Bush’s image is more set. Let’s turn it around: if Bush decided against war now – whether it was “We’re going to give UN pressure more time to work” or “My brothers and sisters, I have seen the error of my ways and reject war with all my heart!” – who would be convinced? Most of the anti-war protestors, IMO, would not be impressed (except with themselves, and Bush would *not* want to hand them a victory like that) and he’d lose face with his supporters. To be sure, he painted himself into this corner.

    Just to make clear where I stand: I didn’t vote for Bush, I don’t like Bush, and I don’t support the war. But I don’t think the guy was headed for a second term anyway, and I think a great number of the protests are motivated more by hatred of Bush than by this particular war.

  8. Lefty, Israel is the only democracy, and the only country that values human rights, in the Middle East. There are 10 democratically elected Arab lawmakers in the Middle East, and they’re all in the Israeli Knesset. Israel allows Palestinians to work within its borders, even though a good many of them wish for its destruction. But in Lefty’s eyes, Israel is the ruthless oppressor because they try to root out terrorism. Here’s how some Arab countries have dealt with Palestinians:
    – Syria killed 10,000 of them over the course of a few days in the 80’s
    – Kuwait expelled all its Palestinians after the gulf war

    But “lefties” like you are blind to injustices not caused by America and Israel. I’d like to think most Libertarians don’t succumb to this bizarre myopia.

  9. You misunderstood me. That was not a slam at Israel. It’s just that it’s a region ruled by force and not one where we will ever be comfortable.

  10. You’re right, too, Richard. In the end this is about Israel. We’re getting sucked into a region where the only way to peace is by ruthless oppression, Israeli style.

  11. and now that the dust has settled, what’s been
    gained? (hint: not too damn much)

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