On Saturday, the Novato chapter of Organizing For America (Obama’s activist group) sent an urgent email to its list members, warning them of the horrors of a conservative gathering in Mill Valley on Sunday:
Subject: Fwd: Rally Mill Valey [sic] Tomorrow
Hi, everyone. You may have read about this in the Marin IJ. The Tea Baggers organizer said she is expecting 300 participants for their event, coming from all over the Bay Area, and it will definitely be covered by the press. Please make our rally if you can. We certainly don’t want to be outnumbered by the opposition on our home turf of Marin County.
Here’s what happened with that counter-protest:
A few blocks south at the junction of Camino Alto and Miller Avenue, about two dozen people urged drivers to honk in support of the Obama administration and urge Congress to pass the health care proposal. The group was called together by Pat Johnstone and other volunteers from Organizing For America.
“What we’re doing is responding to the president’s call to action,” she said. “We voted for change, but (Obama) can’t do it alone. We’ve had an incredible response so far.”
Johnstone said she had no problem with the larger rally taking place up the street.
“Everybody is entitled to their opinion,” she said. “We are not reacting to them. We are not here for the show. We are just showing a commitment to the call for Congress to pass the health care bill now.”
If I understand this correctly, in response to the threat of 300 conservatives gathering in Mill Valley, OFA was able to round-up 24 people. So much for “We certainly don’t want to be outnumbered by the opposition on our home turf of Marin County.” At least Johnstone had the sense to pay lip service to the First Amendment, something some anti-conservative activists in Marin seem to be confused about.
As for the event itself (which I, sadly, could not attend), it was a resounding success, with 500 more than 600 people showing up. The crowd was polite, engaged and happy.
Let me take a minute to revisit my predictions:
1. The Groupa-Palooza will be surprisingly well attended. (True; see above.)
2. The conservatives in attendance will achieve something approaching euphoria simply because they can be open about their political views. (Well, the same news report to which I linked above describes a happy, polite crowd, so I’ll take that as a “true” too.)
3. There will be fringe, crackpot groups attending, such as Ron Paulians, just to name one of the less savory groups that self-affiliates with the conservative party. There will also be some Birthers who haven’t yet acknowledged that the birth certificate ship has already sailed. (True. From the same news report: “Outside the community center, three backers of the controversial Lyndon LaRouche sang songs and chanted anti-Obama comments while holding posters of Obama with an Adolph Hitler-style mustache. Two Mill Valley police officers kept an eye on the proceedings and reported no problems. [para.] Zelikovsky said the demonstrators were not invited to the rally, and tea party attendees occasionally walked up to them and showed their displeasure for their message. [para.] ‘That’s terrible. They’re taking the low road,’ said Cynthia Batt of Belvedere. ‘That does not represent my party, although it does demonstrate a freedom of speech.'”)
4. No matter how small the percentage of fringe groups in attendance, those are the only groups that will get media attention. (Somewhat true. The same local news report to which I linked did give a fairly even handed report of the event. Out of five photos, though, the first two are (a) the protesters and (b) the Lyndon LaRouche-ites and the Obama/Hitler sign.)
Regarding that last, let me add a few words about the SF Chronicle’s coverage. First,the Chron said the Tea Partiers are “ultra-conservative.” I find that an interesting characterization because it’s meaningless. To Progressives and liberals and Democrats and whatever else they’re calling themselves nowadays, there is no such thing as a “conservative.” Or rather, a conservative is someone who says “I’m a Republican, but I agree entirely with the Democrats.” All true conservatives, meaning people who believe in small government and American exceptionalism are tarred by the “ultra-conservative” brush.
Second of all, regarding the MSM’s inevitable efforts to tar the Tea Partiers as racist, get a load of this peculiar paragraph:
Bay Area Patriots describes itself as nonpartisan. But most of the visible campaign activity on Sunday was on behalf of Republicans. There were also a few Libertarian and American Independent candidates – one of whom, Jerry Leidecker, an American Independent running for Congress, wore a shirt showing President Obama with what appeared to be watermelon juice on his lips.
Asked about the apparent racial reference, Leidecker turned around to show a caricature of former President George W. Bush on the back of the shirt, labeled, “Fascist.”
I’ll give the reporter a smidgen of credit for allowing Leidecker to show both sides of his t-shirt, but I have one question for you: What does watermelon juice look like? Unless the reporter added that watermelon seeds were dribbling down along with the painted juice on Obama’s painted lips (which he didn’t say), how do you distinguish painted watermelon juice from any other type of liquid? To a hammer, everything is a nail; and to a liberal, any attack on Obama is racist.
In the same “Tea Partiers” are racist vein, the reporter couldn’t resist commenting on the crowd’s racial make-up (“raaacists”0 although he again had the decency to let one of the black people attending to actually comment upon the scene:
The gathering was overwhelmingly white, but one African American man, Carl Smith of Novato, bristled at suggestions that the Tea Party is racist.
“Most of these people are my friends,” said the 47-year-old plumber. “I don’t hang around with racists.” Bush, he insisted, “did more for African Americans than any president in history.”
You can just imagine the reporter adding “A short time later, Carl Smith was hustled off in a straight jacket for proper racial identity recalibration.”
Though it has the inevitable photo of the lone “Obama/Hitler” sign, this is a fairly decent report.