Some Observations, With a Smile, From Pennsylvania Avenue

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the antiwar protest in Washington last Saturday was both exhilarating
and exasperating.

because the sheer size and diversity of the crowd of protesters
showed me an America that is fed up enough to spend the time, energy,
and money to come to Washington and make a statement to the world
despite the lack of any top-down leadership. Think about it. There
isn't a single notable Republican or Democratic leader with the
guts or intelligence to take a principled stand against the war
that two-thirds of the American people now oppose. So much for representative
government. But that didn't stop this crowd. We even drove King
George into retreat in Colorado Springs, which was worth the price
of admission in itself.

because of the gap between the hard-left ideology of so many of
the organizers and the simple, frustrated patriotism of most of
the participants – everyday Americans who cannot believe or
condone what George W. Bush has done to our country. Trying to listen
to the speeches was as numbing as it always has been, but the antidote
was to walk through the crowd and simply enjoy the creativity of
the homemade signs and buttons and stickers. More about that in
a moment.

a memory as hazy as mine, comparing this event to the protests of
the 1960s requires a leap of faith in my recollections. Nevertheless,
I'll hazard three comparisons. The crowd this year was much more
inter-generational than the protests of the Sixties, which back
then were comprised almost entirely of students and vaguely defined
"youths." The crowd this year, largely because of that
inter-generational quality, was much more representative of the
diversity of the American people than any Sixties protest. And the
protestors this year had a much better sense of political humor
than I remember any of us having in the Sixties.

you, there's nothing funny about the war in Iraq itself. The most
memorable visual scenes last Saturday were the crosses (nearly 2,000
of them) spread on the Mall near the Washington Monument, commemorating
the American soldiers sacrificed in this senseless and unnecessary
war. At another spot was an even more haunting chain of small photos
of those men and women, with identification attached to each one.

war itself is not funny, and nobody was laughing at that. The humor
enters into the politics of the situation here at home, and it keeps
us from plunging into depression over the seeming hopelessness of
trying to get the War Party that controls Washington to listen to
two-thirds of the American people. Interviewed in the New York Times
about his new show, Stephen Colbert of "The Daily Show"
said: "We're just trying to ease the pain of people who feel
the world is going insane and no one is noticing." The sardonic,
sarcastic, ironic, satirical humor on display in Washington on Saturday
was just trying to ease the pain.

worked for me, and here, for you, are a few of the many signs and
buttons and slogans that brought a smile to me:

  • War on
    Moron Error?

  • Heckuva
    Job Bushy

  • Quagmire

  • Overthrow
    Iraq's Brutal Dictator –
    George W. Bush

  • Send the
    Back to his Village
    in Texas
    a village is missing its idiot!

  • American

  • More Trees
    Less Bush

  • Drop Bush
    Not Bombs

  • Take the
    War Toys
    Away from Junior

  • Drunken
    Frat Brat
    Drives a Nation
    Into a Ditch

  • Bush Lied
    Thousands Died

  • Fools Rushed

  • Buck Fush

  • Ex-Republican
    Ask Me Why

  • Intelligent
    (photo of Bush)
    I Think Not

  • Look Ma

    The Emperor Has No Brain

  • No Soldier
    Left Behind

  • Empty Warhead
    Found in White House

  • Outsource
    (photo of Bush) this!

  • President
    Bush is an Oxymoron

  • If Bush
    is a good Christian
    Then I'm a good astronaut

  • War is
    Not a Family Value

  • Bush's
    Personal War is Not Pro-Life

  • Our son
    was once an embryo –
    Don't send him to Iraq

  • Bush took
    the Christ out of Christianity

  • What Would
    Satan Do

  • A Noble
    Prove It – Send the Twins

  • Bush –
    Iraq – FEMA
    One Disaster After Another

  • Make Levees
    Not War

  • Hurricane
    The Real Disaster

28, 2005

Franke [send him mail]
was one of the founders of the conservative movement in the 1950s
and 1960s, when Democrats and liberals were the ones who believed
in big government, fiscal recklessness, and an imperial presidency.

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