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Sunday, April 24, 2005

The latest form of preemption

Jim VandeHei's story in yesterday's Washington Post is troubling. This is what he reported about the President's road trips -- often in support of Social Security "reform":
Bush travels to events with a protective guard of Secret Service agents, but the White House relies on paid advance staff members, who organize and oversee travel, GOP volunteers and local authorities to police crowds. They monitor people as they enter, scan the crowd while Bush is speaking and remove anyone seeking to disrupt the event. Usually, they wait until the person starts protesting, but [White House spokesman Scott] McClellan said staff members can remove people if they think they are present only to disrupt.
Gee, how do they know a disruption is, well...imminent?

In Denver, three people kicked out of a Bush event because they had a "No More Blood for Oil" bumper sticker on their car claim that they did not intend to cause a disruption.

As a side issue, the volunteer who asked them to leave apparently led them to believe that he was with the Secret Service, though he was not. To me, the key issue remains the preemption of political speech:
McClellan said the volunteer had a reason to believe they were planning to protest and rightly removed them. "My understanding is the volunteer was concerned these individuals were going to disrupt the event, so he asked them to leave," McClellan said.

He rightly removed them because they were planning to protest?

Here's what Bill Clinton did when his events were "disrupted" in 1996:
Showing a front-runner's cockiness as Election Day nears, President Clinton brushed off noisy hecklers from Bob Dole's camp yesterday by declaring, "I'll bet you they won't be doing that a week from now."
Unfortunately, we still have 3 years, 38 and a half weeks to go with Bush.

Go ahead, heckle the TV when he's on. So far as I know, you are unlikely to be asked to leave your living room.

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