You have to wonder what the protesters would put on their signs
if the vice president's name weren't Dick.
Early Wednesday morning, before Vice President Cheney arrived to
speak to the Commonwealth Club, the first 10 protesters stood in front of
the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, displaying their handmade posters. "Big
Oil Dick." "Dick Screwed My 401(k)" (held by someone who didn't look like
the owner of a stock portfolio overweighted with energy stocks). "See Dick
Many joined later. As a group, they only reinforced the
suspicion that, to this crowd, Cheney was guilty of everything -- and most
of all of being a Republican.
"What's the difference between running the country and running a
business?" someone asked Cheney. Cheney recalled that years ago, a
Department of Defense colleague, who had worked for General Motors, answered
that question, saying, "At General Motors, at least we were convinced the
board of directors wanted us to succeed."
It was a good line, considering that Cheney had come to a town
with no small number of voters who are rooting for the Bush administration
to fail. (Only 16 percent of San Francisco voters pulled the lever for
Bush-Cheney in 2000.)
During the VP's speech, a handful of protesters began chanting:
"Cheney is a corporate crook. No war with Iraq" -- until they were escorted
outside. Again, the protest had no focus. And if they truly were morally
opposed to war with Iraq, why lead with a reference to corporate accounting
Then there's the media. The buzz among them before the speech
went like this: Why won't Cheney take questions from the press? What will he
say about Halliburton? How does he feel about GOP gubernatorial candidate
Bill Simon, whose company was found guilty of fraud? My question: Why won't
Cheney release information on who met with his energy task force?
They're important questions. The Bush administration could do a
better job of answering them, to help voters keep faith in the people
Yet concerns about Halliburton's accounting practices and the
governor's race and the energy task force seem so puny compared to the big
issue of the day. The war on terrorism continues, and it may well expand to
include incursions into Iraq with the aim of ousting Saddam Hussein.
Critics are quibbling while the Bush administration is stacking
the ammo -- and they don't seem to understand what's at stake, or the
dangers that lurk around the corner. The Euros complain about U.S.
"unilaterism" as if it is more dangerous than a cold-blooded, mass-murdering
psycho who has used weapons of mass destruction on his own civilians and
waged war on his Muslim neighbors.
S.F. protesters show more contempt for corporate CEOs than for
Hussein, who starves children in order to purchase weapons of mass
Cheney addressed the seriousness of dealing with terrorists.
"Such a group cannot be held back by deterrence," he told the audience, "nor
reasoned with by diplomats. For this reason, the war against terror will not
end in a treaty.
There will be no summit meeting or negotiations with the
terrorists. The conflict can only end in their complete and utter
Cheney understands that millions of people around the globe
depend on America's "freedom and overwhelming power." He knows that if
Hussein wins, countless civilians will die and the whole world loses.
Meanwhile, there's a woman standing in front of the Fairmont
with a sign that reads, "No one wants to see you in a Speedo, stop global
warming" -- with a drawing of Speedo bathing trunks.
And they say the military has a preoccupation with things