Home > Political Ranting > Kerry Talks to Real Crowds, Bush Talks to Fake Ones

Kerry Talks to Real Crowds, Bush Talks to Fake Ones

August 10th, 2004

Remember a report recently where Kerry and Edwards traded shots with hecklers? It doesn’t matter which one, it’s happened so often (here’s just one example–Google to find dozens more). Have you noticed that this happens to Kerry, even his wife, very frequently, and that this rarely happens to Bush? That’s not a coincidence.

When John or Teresa Kerry and John Edwards speak to audiences, they’re speaking to real crowds, mostly Democrats as that’s the crowd they draw, but also to moderates and Republicans, for whom it is simple to get in. They pay the price for that–they get heckled constantly, Republicans coordinate to disrupt their events, we start hearing about groups chanting “Four More Years!” for Bush, and so on. It’s a hassle, but at least Kerry and Edwards are honest in whom they talk to–it’s no PR stunt meant for the local TV station, it’s the real deal, so to speak. And the advantage is not only to be seen as authentic; they also get to speak to more swing voters in person this way.

Bush, on the other hand, seems terrified of speaking in front of a crowd that isn’t 100% full of gung-ho supporters–even in the military, which is strongly Republican. Remember his secret flight to Baghdad so he could serve up plastic turkey? The GI’s who got to enjoy the Thanksgiving dinner were there only because they had answered a written questionnaire in which they supported the president a hundred percent–and those who answered less heartily were sent to their barracks to eat MREs. True story.

And it’s no less true on the campaign trail. Bush has been doing videotaped “town-hall” meetings, and wouldn’t you know, the crowds are all enthusiastically supportive of the president, the questions are softballs and there is not a dissenting or truly challenging voice to be heard. Some people don’t even ask questions; they simply stand up, spout out effusive praise of Bush, and then sit down to thunderous applause. Bush spokespeople claim that these are not staged, that they never know what people will say. Riiiiigghht.

Cheney is making his rounds of the speech-and-town-hall circuit as well, and with him as well, they’re not letting in anyone but the party faithful–it’s invitation only, to which members of the public are wondering, “Since when does a town hall meeting feature ‘invitation only’ participants?”

But Bush and Cheney’s standards for who gets in can be severely draconian. Nowadays, to get into one of their appearances, you actually have to sign a loyalty oath, pledging to back the president and vote for him in November before you can be given tickets. Bush people claim that they foiled organized attempts to disrupt their rallies, which is baloney–if all you have to do is sign a loyalty oath, determined protesters aren’t going to stop at signing them. But the GOP goes farther than that, requiring identification as a registered Republican or other credentials which will guarantee that you will do nothing but cheer heartily once you’re inside.

This fake popularity, exercised predominantly by the GOP, has its advantages–when Bush and Cheney appear on television and in news reports, they come across as wildly popular. One can only guess that this is all that Bush’s people care about, and if you have to insult and piss off a whole lot of people to do it, well, the TV audience is bigger than the crowd that didn’t get in.

But as the GOP continues to dismiss Michael Moore for using his craft to create false impressions, this Bush policy makes it very clear that the GOP is far more adept at creating false impressions–or as Moore would say, creating a “fictitious president.”

Were Bush or Cheney to make an appearance before a real crowd of Americans, not stacked, not hand-picked, not just the party faithful, but a group of true-blue, everyday Americans, they would surely falter under the lack of enthusiasm and sometimes outrage that they have generated. The cheers would be more realistically scattered, the silence of much or the crowd thick in the air, the dissatisfaction palpable.

Which, of course, is exactly why they stack the crowds.

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  1. August 19th, 2004 at 05:22 | #1

    DOZENS of Kerry’s are invite only.

    But you don’t mention that. Wonder why


  2. Luis
    August 19th, 2004 at 11:43 | #2

    Because Kerry makes hundreds upon hundreds of appearances. Okay, a few dozen are invitation-only. But the vast majority are not. With Bush and Cheney, I have never even heard of them speaking without crowd filtering and setup; if it happens, it is even more rare as Kerry speaking with the crowd filtering.

    Nice try, though.

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