Disgraced Attorney General Alberto Gonzales traveled to Boise today, apparently believing that Idaho was one last place where he could show his face in public. But after more than 100 people showed up at an outdoor press conference to protest Gonzales' appearance, the AG's handlers delayed the event an hour and moved it to an indoor venue where only credentialed press could attend.
Gonzo was in Boise to meet with the regional anti-gang task force and tour Fort Boise Community Center, which has many programs to give local youth alternatives to gang life. (Ironic, isn't it? The attorney general is OK with torture, politically motivated firings, domestic spying, and lying before Congress, but gangs? No way!) Afterward, he was supposed to meet the Boise media outside for a press conference.
More below the fold (don't miss the photo of mcmom and old timer!)
Early in the afternoon, protesters - alerted by 2006 Congressional candidate Jim Hansen at the United Action for Idaho blog - began joining the media on the sidewalk outside the community center. By 2:30, the crowd had grown to more than 100, including mcjoan parental units mcmom and old timer, pictured here!
As the minutes went by and Gonzales did not emerge, Hansen took the podium - complete with the U.S. Attorney General's seal - and urged the AG to "start the healing process" by announcing his resignation right there. (Earlier in the day, Hansen and fellow former Democratic congressional candidates Larry Grant and Dan Williams held a press conference to make the same demand.) Soon after that, someone - mcmom thinks she may have been the one - started singing The Star Spangled Banner and the demonstrators joined in. Many waved flags. I wore a baseball cap with a U.S. flag along with a black T-shirt that reads "Dissent is not disloyalty."
Finally, about a half-hour after Gonzales' scheduled arrival, an anonymous flack came out to announce that the press conference would instead be held at 4 p.m. at the U.S. Attorney's office - indoors, away from protesters. A chorus of chicken calls and cries of "coward!" erupted from the gathered throng. Many in the crowd thought the U.S. Attorney's office was just down the street at the Federal Building and planned to move the demonstration there. But guess what? The U.S. Attorney's office is not in the Federal Building, as you might suspect, but in a corporate office plaza more than a mile away. I drove by there shortly after 4 and there were no protesters. Once again, the Bush admin proved masters of misdirection.
Still, the protesters' tactics worked, diverting attention from Gonzales' hoped-for friendly photo op in a last outpost of Bushlandia. Taking the podium outside Fort Boise with the TV cameras still rolling, 2006 1st District Idaho congressional candidate and netroots favorite Larry Grant told the dispersing crowd, "I think he heard you when he didn't come out," adding that the United States deserves an attorney general who will defend civil rights and the rule of law. The Gonzales story - including the protest angle - was leading tonight's Boise news and received heavy local blog coverage as well. (Read more at Red State Rebels, New West (whose Jill Kuraitis posted a lengthy report from inside the relocated press conference), and Fort Boise, (which headlined its story "He's a Back Door Man.") Mark the day: On June 26, 2007, the nation's top law enforcement official received notice that he can't hide from his record, not even in heavily Republican Idaho.
Adapted from an earlier post at Red State Rebels.