The Signs They Carried

Bush's detractors take to the streets with pithy eloquence

By Jack Beatty

The signs carried by the thousands protesting the Republican National Convention in New York on Sunday trenchantly told the story of the Bush presidency; and, watching this river of citizens flowing past the C-Span cameras on 7th Avenue carrying, chanting, shouting, and wearing their opinions, I realized how commentators hostile to Bush—myself included—consistently bury the truth in facts. Eight-hundred words would only dissipate the charge of, "BUSH LIED. 972 SOLDIERS DIED," "QUAGMIRE ACCOMPLISHED," or "GEORGE BUSH HIJACKED OUR GRIEF AND FLEW IT INTO IRAQ." As for "DICK CHENEY BEFORE HE DICKS YOU," "PULL OUT, PULL OUT, PULL OUT LIKE YOUR DADDY SHOULD'VE," "LICK BUSH," and the Biblical "BUSH IS A TUSH," they recalled Alexander Pope's line on the hallmark of poetry: "What oft was thought/ but ne'er so well expressed."

In the anti-war demonstrations I went to in the 1960s, as well as in the 1972 march on Washington to protest Nixon's inauguration, some of the signs—"VICTORY TO THE NLF," for example—made many of us wish we weren't there. And, especially at the "STOP THE WAR" rallies, it was easy to resent signs calling attention to marginal-seeming causes; easy to grow spastic with boredom at the sectarian harangues given from the platform by their adherents. But the hatred of Bush among left-wing sectarians is such that, in Sunday's march at any rate, the few marchers who fit that description rose above monomania. Only one sign brought back a twinge of the old '60s pique: "U.S. OUT OF THE PHILLIPINES." A great idea, but not the first place we should get out of. And "COMMUNISTS FOR KERRY" had to have been a GOP plant.

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http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2004/08/the-signs-they-carried/303517/