For symbolism of how decrepit democracy is becoming in the United States, Rummy's government-managed prowar march this coming Sunday is hard to top.
One of my favorite political fantasies is to have Rummy spend 10 minutes in a private conversation with Andrew Jackson.
Rummy would come crawling out of the room gasping for breath. Jackson wouldn't fight him physically, though, or challenge him to a duel. Challenging him to a duel would imply that Rummy was somehow the same class of "gentleman" that Jackson was. The General (Jackson) would sooner schmooze with British officers than pretend to stomach the Rummys of the world.
From Tight Constraints on Pentagon's Freedom Walk: Event Remembering 9/11, Troops to Be Kept 'Sterile,' Limited to Preregistered by Petula Dvorak Washington Post 09/09/05:
Organizers of the Pentagon's 9/11 memorial Freedom Walk on Sunday are taking extraordinary measures to control participation in the march and concert, with the route fenced off and lined with police and the event closed to anyone who does not register online by 4:30 p.m. today.
The march, sponsored by the Department of Defense, will wend its way from the Pentagon to the Mall along a route that has not been specified but will be lined with four-foot-high snow fencing to keep it closed and "sterile," said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense.
The U.S. Park Police will have its entire Washington force of several hundred on duty and along the route, on foot, horseback and motorcycles and monitoring from above by helicopter. Officers are prepared to arrest anyone who joins the march or concert without a credential and refuses to leave, said Park Police Chief Dwight E. Pettiford.
In one of the innumerable signs big and small of how sadly deteriorated our press corps has become, Dvorak uses the propaganda label "pro-troops" for Clint Black's pro-Iraq War song. Or, more precisely, his pro-let's-send-our-troops-to-kill-and-die-based-on-lies song:
The event, the America Supports You Freedom Walk, is billed as a memorial to victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks and a show of support for those serving in the military, topped off with a concert by country singer Clint Black, known for his pro-troops anthem, "Iraq and Roll." Organizers said they expect 3,000 to 10,000 participants.
But I suppose it is a sign of the remaining democratic spirit of the country that this government-stage-managed poltical event is expected to attract 10,000 maximum.
Yes, the symbolism is appropriate for the Bush-and-Rummy version of democracy. In that sense, maybe it's right to say we're bringing "democracy" to Iraq:
Pettiford said officers would patrol to keep interlopers out because the Pentagon restricted the event in its permit application. "That is what their permit called for, so we have those fences to keep the public out." (my emphasis)
At least Dvorak recognized that this sad anti-democracy charade is a change:
What's unusual for an event on the Mall is the combination of fences, required preregistration and the threat of arrest.
And Rummy doesn't even want the press to cover the whole thing, presumably to prevent them from reporting what a farce it is. But who knows? Maybe it's just the Bush administration's authoritarian style on display once again:
Some military supporters have welcomed the event as a way to counter the antiwar movement and back the troops abroad. Antiwar groups say they are convinced that the event was orchestrated to boost the war effort and link the war to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- and to undercut an antiwar protest planned for Sept. 24.
One restricted group will be the media, whose members will not be allowed to walk along the march route. Reporters and cameras are restricted to three enclosed areas along the route but are not permitted to walk alongside participants walking from the Pentagon, across the Memorial Bridge to the Mall.
This is part of what democracy, Republican Party-style, looks like. This is what happens when the Southern Democratic Party of old-style segregationists like Ross Barnett or George Wallace merges with the northern party of Big Business.
This is an interesting angle:
Opponents of the Freedom Walk took issue with the way the Pentagon is staging the event. When the walk first was publicized, participants were required to submit their names, ages, e-mail addresses and home addresses. After some groups accused the Pentagon of using the registration as a recruiting tool for the military, the requirements were changed.
Actually, my guess is that they were screening them to minimize the chances that anyone there might criticize Dear Leader Bush in any way.