Those Helpful Bush Volunteers

Monday, April 25, 2005

Those Helpful Bush Volunteers

Regardless of the political party in residence, White Houses work carefully to orchestrate public events in every imaginable way, but not until the Bush White House has an administration paid as much attention to the crowd as to what happens on stage. The Bushies are giving a whole new meaning to the term “crowd control”:

The Secret Service in Washington last week sent agents to Denver to probe allegations by three area Democrats that they were ousted from Bush's March 21 (Social Security) event. The three did not stage any protest at the rally and were later told by the Secret Service they were removed because an anti-Bush bumper sticker was displayed on their vehicle.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the man who removed them was a GOP volunteer, but he refused to divulge his name or whether he works in Colorado or Washington. ''If someone is coming to an event to disrupt it, they are going to be asked to leave," he said.
No wonder Bush won re-election. His supporters have the ability to predict the future, knowing with utter certainty who is "coming to an event to disrupt it ..." But I digress.
The Secret Service knows the man's name, the source said, and has interviewed him. Secret Service spokesman Jim Mackin refused to comment for this story.

This is not the first time the White House has faced scrutiny for ousting critics from Bush appearances or peopling the audiences with friendly Republicans.

In Fargo, N.D., earlier this year, a local newspaper reported more than 40 residents were put on a list of people who should not be let in the door; the White House blamed the incident on an overzealous volunteer.

… In the Denver case, Alex Young, 25, Karen Bauer, 38, and Leslie Weise, 39, say they were forced out even though they never verbally protested or displayed anti-Bush shirts or signs. The White House has not disputed this account
There’s an interesting pattern here — the enforcers, again and again, are simply unnamed “volunteers.” I’ve volunteered for a lot of political events in my life, and I’ve never been asked (or heard of anyone else asked) to:

1) Thoroughly scan the parking lot to see what bumper-stickers appear on people’s cars, and

2) Identify those with offending bumper-stickers and eject them from the event.

People don't go to such lengths on their own. It stands to reason that these GOP volunteers are being instructed to take these actions directly or indirectly by someone closely connected to the White House.

It is shameful that three citizens — who were not acting in a disruptive manner, contrary to McClellan's statement — would be ejected from an event whose costs their tax dollars were helping to pay. I hope the press stays on top of this issue and demands a measure of accountability from the White House.

(Yes, I know — I must be dreaming if I think that's going to happen.)

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