Dog Wagging

14Apr10

It was striking to see Sarah Palin get out of the SUV today.

It had pulled in behind the line of buses on Boston Common, with the stage on the other side of the buses, and the crowd on the other side of the stage. So, for the bulk of the crowd, Sarah was out of view.

“Is this what their `change’ is all about?” Palin asked the crowd on Boston Common. “I want to tell ’em, nah, we’ll keep clinging to our Constitution and our guns and religion – and you can keep the change.”

The gathering harkened back to 1773, when American colonists upset about British taxation without government representation threw British tea into the harbor in protest.

The SUV had driven into a special security area behind the bus, and held back by the temporary railing were crowds of people screaming for Sarah. Getting out of the vehicle, she was swarmed by the special people who were permitted behind security. Watching her signing autographs and chatting, I was struck by how intense her celebrity is. Many people would feel like turning and running to escape. What an unbearable way this must be to live. A moment later, she was escorted by several security folks to the Tea Party bus where she could hide, in peace, until she would be called to the stage.

Above is a photo of Sarah speaking today, which I took on my Palm Pre cell phone. I figured I should have an angle on Sarah that one never sees – the backstage shot. Notice the legs of security guys standing on the left, guarding the stage. There were more at the bottom of the steps, and the same on the other side of the stage, In between, behind the bus, there was more security and a ton of cops.


Sarah is introduced, she leaves the bus, she walks up these steps, she opens the notebook she’s been given, she delivers the speech that’s been written for her, she smiles, she waves, she walks off. Down the steps she goes to a few handshakes, a couple of smiles for photos and autographs signed, then back into the big black thing and she’s gone.

“I feel like I’m taking care of my son and daughter and grandchildren’s business,” said Mary Lou O’Connell, 72, of Duxbury. She listed “deceit” and “gentle corrosion of the political process” as two concerns and toted a sign reading, “Start Deleting Corruption Nov. 2010.”

All this is done for TV. All of it is done to deliver a message into the news cycle. It’s worth noting how events like this are staged for the news cycle. The crowd shows up for their own purposes, but they also become a prop. Which they’re aware of, I’m sure.

Another attendee, John Arathuzik, 69, of Topsfield, said he had never been especially politically active until he saw the direction of the Obama administration.

“I feel like I can do one of two things: I can certainly vote in November, which I’ll do, and I can provide support for the peaceful protest about the direction this country is taking,” said Arathuzik, a veteran who clutched a copy of the Constitution distributed by one of the vendors who had set up shop amid locals heading to work and walking their dogs.

But watching today I was reminded of what you can’t know when you’re an average person watching at home. Political events and photo ops are staged events created for those at home. This is how it works, today.

A festive mood filled the air. A band played patriotic music, and hawkers sold yellow Gadsden flags emblazoned with the words “Don’t Tread on Me” and the image of a rattlesnake.

This isn’t a criticism, or critique, of the Tea Party. It was a great event – I was thrilled to be there and to have the chance to speak, it was an amazing day and  I loved talking to the dozens of people whose days were actually made happier by having the chance to chat with me. I’m just sharing my thoughts from backstage regarding how the tail wags the dog sometimes.

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2 Responses to “Dog Wagging”

  1. Your description and analysis of the ‘event’ with Sarah Palin is right on target.
    As a columnist for a website, I circulated among the ‘festive’ crowd, who were
    indeed disappointed in not being able to see or hear. Yes, it seemed like a moment
    in time, just for the media hype and the ongoing popularity of an entertainer,
    not a potential candidate for President.
    At your convenience, see my take on the ‘event’ at http://www.breakingnewsjournal.net
    By the way, your program would be nothing without the sick humor of Cooksie (sp),
    but I enjoy your repartee with Mr. Finneran as well….thanks.
    Have a great day.

  2. 2 The Good Martha

    The Metro today called the turnout weak but I think they underestimated the crowd. Many people like myself, attended for a half hour or an hour because we couldn’t stay for the entire rally. We had to get back to our jobs because we are hard working, self supporting, proud Americans who do not rely on government handouts to get by. Yet we find ourselves having to give handout after handout to the Government.

    That is why an accurate crowd count cannot be made. And yes, that’s why we’re angry.


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