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The President Battles Terrorism, John Kerry, and the Bush Haters
Rise of the Bush Haters
George W. Bush stared out the window of his limousine at the largest protest of his presidency. A thousand angry demonstrators -- maybe more -- were rampaging through the streets of Portland, Oregon, utterly overwhelming the meager contingent of police trying to restore order. The motorcade was headed directly into a melee so chaotic that the Secret Service could no longer guarantee the president's safety. Indeed, three minutes before Bush's limousine was supposed to make its final approach to the hotel, police lost control of Taylor Street altogether. They radioed the Secret Service, frantically directing the motorcade to a secondary route. Furious, the agents swung the president south and tried another approach. But the sophisticated protesters, using scouts with cell phones, got wind of Plan B. They rushed to head off Bush before he could penetrate the barricades surrounding the Hilton. Street cops joined in the footrace, hoping to prevent a calamity at Sixth Avenue. The president suddenly understood why his father had nicknamed this city "Little Beirut."
More than anything, the younger Bush was struck by the virulence of the demonstrators. Although he was accustomed to encountering protests in almost every city he visited, most were perfunctory, halfhearted affairs, largely overshadowed by crowds of exuberant supporters. One almost felt sorry for the protesters, as if they were committing some unfortunate social gaffe. But these Portland protesters were different. They were seething with, well, hatred -- there was no other word for it. Bush could see it in their contorted faces as they lunged toward the limousine, shrieking at the top of their lungs and extending their middle fingers. They jabbed placards that bore the most vulgar epithets imaginable. An attractive young woman with dark hair and sunglasses was brandishing a large sign that read BUSH: BASTARD CHILD OF THE SUPREME COURT. When she lifted it over her head with both arms, her sleeveless white T-shirt rode up to expose a swath of bare midriff above her low-slung jeans. The "belly shirt" was emblazoned with big black letters that spelled out the words F--- BUSH. The protestors seemed to take delight in such in-your-face vulgarity. One of them held a large photograph that had been doctored to depict a gun barrel pressed against the president's temple. Another waved a sign declaring, BUSH: WANTED, DEAD OR ALIVE, with an X over the word "alive." It was hard to avoid the conclusion that at least some of the protesters would have welcomed an assassination attempt. So much for reasoned political discourse. Meanwhile, a man hoisted an enormous placard that bizarrely proclaimed: IMPEACH THE COURT-APPOINTED JUNTA AND THE FASCIST, EGOMANIACAL, BLOOD-SWILLING BEAST! Bush had seen signs in other cities calling him an idiot, a liar, even "commander in thief," but never "a blood-swilling beast." This was getting downright ugly.
The president began to have second thoughts about the venue for tonight's event, a fund-raiser for Oregon senator Gordon Smith. Why did it have to be held in the heart of the city, where the protesters were obviously harder to control? In fact, Portland police had warned the Secret Service and the White House advance team to expect trouble. They cautioned that the centrally located Hilton would be exceedingly difficult to defend against the hordes of protesters who were certain to descend on downtown. They recommended that the fund-raiser be moved a few blocks north, to the Benson Hotel, where access would be easier to control. When White House officials refused to budge from the Hilton, police asked them to at least reconsider their plans to keep the president there overnight. It would be much safer to get him out of the central city, perhaps to the outlying home of a wealthy supporter. Yet the president's handlers had dismissed the local cops as excitable yokels with overactive imaginations. They insisted on bringing Bush to the Hilton and keeping him there overnight. And now those same handlers were shocked by the size and severity of the protest. The unthinkable had happened -- the motorcade route had been lost!
The president's limousine was now on the secondary route, making its final approach to the Hilton. But protesters had already arrived from the original route and were spoiling for a fight. Worse yet, there were hardly any cops to hold them back.
"That's him!" shouted one of ringleaders.
Several hooligans rushed the line of security vehicles that preceded Bush's limousine -- two police motorcycles, a white police cruiser, and a black Chevy Suburban full of Secret Service agents. They brazenly darted across the street between these speeding vehicles. One man, dressed all in black, sprinted directly in front of the president's limousine, coming within a few feet of the leader of the free world. The rest of the mob pressed in from both sides of the street and let out a rolling "Boooooooooooo!" as the president passed. Although Sixth Avenue was a major bus thoroughfare, the local transit authority had closed it off with an abundance of orange traffic cones. Bush's limousine barreled right over the rubber cones, which thumped angrily against the undercarriage. Further slowing the motorcade were the protesters themselves, who continued to pour into the street and gesticulate with their vitriolic placards.
9/11, read one. YOU LET IT HAPPEN, SHRUB.
BUSH KNEW, shrieked another, quoting the infamous newspaper headline Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton had brandished on the floor of the U.S. Senate three months earlier.
Of all the insults hurled at Bush that day, he considered these the most profane. To suggest that he, the commander in chief, was somehow responsible for the deaths of 3,000 innocent civilians in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania -- the biggest mass murder in the history of the United States -- was nothing short of monstrous. Everyone knew the attacks were perpetrated by Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist network. Virtually the entire civilized world had united behind America's swift and righteous routing of Afghanistan's repressive Taliban regime, which sheltered al Qaeda ...Misunderestimated
The President Battles Terrorism, John Kerry, and the Bush Haters. Copyright © by Bill Sammon. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.