Some Observations, With a Smile, From Pennsylvania Avenue

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

Exhilarating 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.

Exasperating 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.

With 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.

Mind 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.

The 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.

It 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 Terror Or Moron Error?

  • Heckuva Job Bushy

  • Quagmire Accomplished

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

  • Send the Idiot Back to his Village (and) Somewhere in Texas a village is missing its idiot!

  • American Psycho

  • 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 In

  • Buck Fush

  • Ex-Republican Ask Me Why

  • Intelligent Design? (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 War? Prove It – Send the Twins

  • Bush – Iraq – FEMA One Disaster After Another

  • Make Levees Not War

  • Hurricane Bush The Real Disaster

September 28, 2005