This And That From The Obama Protest Trip

Last night when I posted about Wednesday’s affair in New Orleans I said I’d have more later. This being later, I have more.

We’ve had a pretty good amount of response to the big image of the week – the one we captured from yesterday’s voyage to the French Quarter for the President’s confab. Oscar had the goods on what happened with his fundraising yesterday; I heard the same from the grapevine. Which tells you what a disaster the Democrats have made for themselves here in Louisiana.

It was interesting yesterday. We expected to have a hundred people or maybe more for our gathering outside the House of Blues, but around 1:30 or so the skies opened up and it was pretty obvious that getting people who had work to do to bug out of their jobs to stand out in the rain was going to be a dicey proposition at best. We still had quite a few folks, but when they got there it wasn’t like we had an overwhelming group.

So we had to be strategic and marshall our resources. And that’s why we decided the corner of Decatur and Iberville was good for us. We picked the corner that was on the river side and across the street from the House of Blues, because the way the Secret Service had it set up it looked like that would put us on the president’s route away from the event. And also because that put us catty-corner from where the line began for the guests of the event.

We didn’t have that many people; there were a few Obama supporters there, probably as many as we had, and the majority of the people who were milling around were French Quarter tourists who saw something happening and decided to be gawkers for a while. Most of them had the same opinion of Obama as us, but weren’t as adamant about it; but when you’re on vacation and the president of the country happens by it’s worth taking it in.

Given all that, my thinking that we’d turn this thing into a Glenn Beck rally of sorts turned into something else. I figured our best shot at making a splash was to see if we could generate a visual that could get on TV or go viral on the internet. So after a quick strategy meeting, we decided what we’d do was to hold our fire until Obama’s motorcade arrived the event and then put our signs up for everybody to see until after he left. That would minimize the time in which the other side could engage in bad behavior, and it would give us the best opportunity to send a message directly to the president. Not to mention the fact that as soon as Obama left we knew the guests would be leaving right after, and they’d see the sign and know Obama had seen it as well.

So as soon as there appeared to be some activity and we saw the president’s motorcade coming up North Peters Street, up went the sign.

Naturally, the Obama supporters in the crowd were furious about that, and there were some pretty horrendous comments about us showing it. Including one or two threats. But I have to say this – there were a couple of people in that group who said very loudly “No, they have the right to voice their opinion just like we do and y’all need to leave them be” or something to that effect. And that deserves a lot of respect – because frankly, the respect for dissenting opinions is a rare commodity among those on the Left, and to hear that kind of tolerance in New Orleans where that philosophy is more militantly expressed than anywhere in the state was a pleasant surprise.

And as a result we coexisted fairly peacefully with the pro-Obama people in the crowd. It was nice to know that as politicized and nasty as things have become in this country, we’re still Americans and we still believe in some of the basic principles that made us great.

Which is not to say that this was some sort of love-fest. It wasn’t. In fact, the freedom of speech had a hell of a lot less to do with our being able to hold that sign unmolested than the arrival of the street musician on the scene who decided to regale the crowd with an improvisational jazz version of “Hail To The Chief.” He did OK for the first six or seven times he played it; after that, the crowd began to turn on him a little.

And then a lot.

The guy simply wouldn’t stop. Even when Scott Satchfield from WWL-TV did his live spot from precisely where we were (we were actually holding the sign up over Satchfield’s cameraman’s head), he was still blowing away…

Satchfield’s standup led WWL’s 6:00 broadcast. By then, Obama had been at the House of Blues for a little over a half-hour. And the sax player had been on the scene for at least 20 minutes before Obama’s arrival. By 6:00, his act had gotten really old. So old, in fact, that a few of the people who hated our sign like poison agreed that we were nowhere near the most irritating people on the scene.

But around 6:20, Obama came out of the building and the motorcade headed right for us, making a left turn on Iberville on their way to the Convention Center where he was set to speak at the Urban League convention at 7:00.

And since we had somebody with a camera catty-corner to where we were, this was the result (which has been shared hundreds of times on Facebook and Twitter and looks like it might be going viral)…

I’ve said this before, but Obama was in the back passenger seat of The Beast (which is what they called that up-armored Caddy limo, and let me tell you that is one seriously FINE ride). And I got a perfect view of his face as it drove past – you can see me in the picture, as I’m the guy on the right side of the big sign holding it up (in the blue shirt with the Saints hat on).

The look on his face was priceless. It was a cross between “Aw, #(%&. Really?” and “Crap. This’ll be on the internet.”

It’s what we were going for. And under the circumstances it was exactly what I was hoping for. We had hoped we’d get on local TV and thus have some video that might get out, but a good still shot was fine.

Of course, the minute Obama was out of there, the guests started filing out. And they didn’t like it one bit that we had those signs. They were a little less tolerant of dissenting opinions than the hoi-polloi gathered on the street. So while some of the tourists started coming over to take pictures of the sign, the well-dressed Obamites belching forth from the House of Blues began hurling insults.

“Nazis,” seemed to be the most prevalent one.

Our crowd contained a number of people without a lot of experience in this kind of thing, so I did my best to get them not to respond to those kind of statements. It doesn’t do you much good to be a martyr for the cause when you’re greatly outnumbered, so thankfully we managed not to escalate the situation to the point where somebody took a swing at any of us. But not to respond to the “Nazis” insult is one of the hardest things a free-market conservative can do. After all, “Nazi” stands for “National Socialist.” The level of stupidity or cognitive dissonance which allows one to equate “National Socialism” with free-market conservatism – which used to be called “classical liberalism” and which was best expressed contemporaneously within Hitler’s empire by Austrian economists like F.A. Hayek, who found himself run out of his homeland by the Nazis – is such that you’re not going to be able to engage in an intelligent discourse with those who make such an equation. But it’s so insulting and such an affront to reason that to hold one’s tongue in the face of that requires discipline.

The immaculately-dressed, stringy-haired and bitchy Sarah Jessica Parker wannabe who attempted to lay that on me received a derisive laugh in response and that was all. Had she been a little better looking I might have given her more.

Anyway, on with the story. Within 10 minutes of Obama’s departure, with the street boiling over with the president’s $250-and-up rubes and the environment beginning to deteriorate, it was time to get out of dodge. The objective was to reach the getaway car, which was parked in the lot at Iberville and North Peters a block away, with the sign and our skins intact. There was some doubt about how possible that was going to be, particularly when we found ourselves accosted by a very large individual with an Upper Midwest accent which screamed “union” who wanted an explanation of why Mitt Romney isn’t greedy.

I could have explained to him that someone in private business who is engaged in giving value for value in a free marketplace might be the devil himself but the effect of what he’s doing is nil unless he can find others who see value in his wares, and if that equates to greed then we should really ask why by that standard the greediest bastards on earth aren’t those people who rather than actually having a product or service worth selling instead pursue the ability to steal your money and freedom to satisfy their political desires. Particularly when those people always demand, as a by-product of their heroic redistribution of the ill-gotten gains produced in the free market, a fat skim off the top.

But I didn’t have that kind of time, and he didn’t quite strike me as a particularly astute or neutral observer of the human condition. So instead I kept our gang moving. And when he said “Hey, I’m talking to you,” my response was “I know, but I’m not talking to you. I came here to send a message to Obama, and your opinion isn’t something I’m particularly interested in.”

For some reason that got us away from Union Man On Vacation, and we were home free until we got to the parking lot and found ourselves next to one of Obama’s $250-and-up donors, a 5’4″ pepper pot of a guy who just screamed “trial lawyer” in how he carried himself. And he instantly commenced to a foul-mouthed tirade about Republicans and “f*cking right-wing a**holes” and so forth. I walked up to him – I’m 6’3,” though I don’t claim to be a particularly threatening guy – and politely asked him what his problem was. Interestingly, he didn’t have much else to say before getting in his car and leaving.

Which meant the tribulations were over. And our group was suddenly in need of libations to mark the occasion.

There’s a place on North Peters – I think it’s a relatively new establishment – called the St. Lawrence bar. It’s directly across the street from that big parking lot on the river side of North Peters at Iberville. Since it was the closest place to the car we decided that’s where we’d go. As it turns out that was a good choice, because we uncovered one of those occasional discoveries that adds a little flavor to life.

This one was called a Revelation Rambler, though we’ve rechristened it a Storyville.

It’s a cocktail. It’s got four parts Old New Orleans Spiced Rum to one part simple syrup, with Community Iced Tea added to taste. Serve it on the rocks with a slice of lemon and you’ve got yourself a little slice of heaven.

This thing tastes like really sweet iced tea with just a hint of spice to it. And I’ve found myself a new staple for liquid adult refreshment. Happiness can come in small doses – or perhaps slightly larger ones, depending on your tolerance.

In any event, we managed to escape from New Orleans alive and happy, so I’d say the trip was a good one.

A bit better than I thought when we hoisted that sign, for sure.



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