I've been asked to diary my experiences from yesterday's Tea Party in Pensacola, Fla., the one that was on the open thread this morning and has shown up on a number of other blogs (including my own, of course -- the place where it all started). I don't want to be redundant, but if you want to know how it happened, I'll tell you about it below the fold.
Oh, yeah, if you missed the video somehow, here you go:
I had planned to cover the local teabaggery for a while, but really only to livetweet it for posterity. However, after arriving and taking a few pictures and such, they announced via megaphone, "Anyone who'd like to say a few words is welcome to do so." Well, they did say anyone ...
I worked my way up to the front ... well, it wasn't so much front as it was middle. It ended up being like a "theater in the round," with the main action taking place in front of a bust of Andrew Jackson, once the governor of territorial Florida with its capital in Pensacola. I took lots of pictures and videos there (some of which I hope to post shortly at Blast Off!), and I was thinking about what I might say if and when I got up there. Still, I wasn't sure I wanted to do it. People were, well, rather rambunctious in their Obama hatred, and the shouting and craziness was, to be honest, a little unnerving.
But when a couple of my friends showed up, one offered to film my "speech," so I figured I'd go for it. I gave a lot of thought to what I wanted to say, making sure to draw the crowd in so they'd listen carefully before bringing the rhetorical hammer down. I guess it worked. :) After I spoke, the MC of the event calmed everyone down and said, "All opinions are welcome here. And besides ... he's half right." That helped defuse the situation a bit, as did the next speaker, who started by complimenting me on my hat (it's a Baltimore Orioles hat -- I was born in Baltimore and I'm a lifelong O's fan).
Anyway, a few, including my girlfriend, have chided me a bit for putting myself in harm's way. "Someone could have had a gun," they say. Well, that's true ... but I've never really been the type to stand around and watch, especially when half-truths and lies are being disseminated with no one to challenge them. Sometimes we have to take a little bit of risk, I think, in order to accomplish things. So many people throughout history have taken such risks ... maybe I'm foolish to do so, but I can only do so much from behind a laptop keyboard. I'd like my kids (9yo boy, 3yo girl) to know that their dad stood up for something important, at least once.
I guess this little impromptu speech is having some positive impact -- I've been asked to appear on the Richard Hunter radio show today at 4:30 pm CDT, if they ever get back to me -- but mostly I just wanted to show those teabaggers that maybe everything isn't as they get from their constant aural assault by Beck and Limbaugh and Hannity and their ilk. Maybe they all dismissed me as a crackpot, but maybe I got through to someone. And at the end, isn't that worth a little risk?
Thanks for all the kind words on the Open Thread. Keep fighting the good fight.
P.S. If anyone wants to hire a DFH recovering attorney blogger and university fundraiser (12 years) with some broadcasting experience (I even did a couple of segments on Sky News in October during their election coverage), let me know. Oh, yeah, I did okay on a game show once, too. ;)
P.P.S. Just confirmed: I will be a guest on the Richard Hunter Show, progressive talk radio out of Dallas, this afternoon at 4:30 pm CENTRAL. Listen live here. Hope I don't suck. ;)
UPDATE (12:24 pm CDT 4/16/09): By popular demand, here's a transcript of my remarks:
(Crowd applauds as he takes the microphone)
All right. Thank you very much.
I want to start also by honoring the service of our veterans, our current servicemembers, our Gold Star parents, thank you so much for what all you've done for this country. (Crowd cheers)
I also want to say, a little history lesson here, back in 2000, there was a budget surplus in the country. (Man in crowd: Yeah!) And during the next eight years, (Man in crowd: What happened?) it was destroyed by the profligate spending of the Bush administration. (Crowd reacts)
And so here we are today, here we are today in a situation ... let me ask you this: Cheer if you make less than 250,000 dollars a year. Just cheer. (Crowd cheers) Your taxes are going to be cut under the current budget. Congratulations!
I was laid off in September because my employer had to make budget cuts. That was before the election, okay? So let's remember, that if you're going to argue about more taxes and less spending, to place the blame where the blame belongs, and that's squarely in the hands of the Republican Congress until 2006 (Crowd starts to react) and the Bush administration. (Crowd boos)