Bush at Monticello

Ph2008070402708 "President Bush kicked off the Fourth of July at the hilltop estate of one of the nation’s Founding Fathers, where he welcomed dozens of new American citizens from 30 countries.

Bush’s address Friday at the annual Independence Day naturalization ceremony at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello was immediately interrupted by a handful of antiwar demonstrators, one of whom repeatedly shouted, "Impeach Bush!" Bush, apparently unfazed, offered a holiday-appropriate response.

"To my fellow citizens-to-be, we believe in free speech in the United States of America," Bush said to hearty applause.

Six protesters, including one in a cartoonish Uncle Sam hat, were "voluntarily escorted" away from the crowd of 3,000, and no arrests were made, said Lee Catlin, a spokeswoman for Albemarle County.

The citizenship ceremony has been held annually since 1963 outside Jefferson’s colonnaded plantation home in the verdant Piedmont hills. Bush, the fourth U.S. president to address the event, lauded the "guiding principles" Jefferson laid out in the Declaration of Independence, saying they had long inspired immigrants like those gathered before him.

"They’ve made America a melting pot of cultures from all across the world. They’ve made diversity one of the great strengths of our democracy," he said. "And all of us here today are here to honor and pay tribute to that great notion of America." "  Washpost


If I read the news correctly, this was Bush’s first visit to Monticello?  That is a surprise.  Most people who are of the visiting class have been there, often several times.  Monticello and Gettysburg are on the "must do" list.   I wonder if he has been to Mount Vernon right down the road (12 miles perhaps) from the public housing he occupies at present.  I wonder if he has ever been in any of the museums of the Smithsonian Institution?  I suppose that he is not interested in such things.  The past seem to be dead for him.  Perhaps he has been to the Alamo?  Ah, yes.  That would be a political necessity.  In visiting the Alamo a few years ago, I found the damp, dark, little church to be both depressing and unimpressive.  On the other hand, the obvious devotion of the hordes of modern Texans who filled the site to overflowing was indeed impressive.

Bush was heckled at Monticello.  It is not something I would have done.  The place, the day, his office and the new Americans would have kept me safe from such a display, but I am heartened that this could happen and that there were no arrests, just an escorted trip to a parking lot at the bottom of the little mountain.  Homage is due to the officials of Albemarle County for that.

Jefferson succeeded John Adams as president.  Adams had displayed a tendency to authoritarian grandiosity as president.  He liked court uniforms.  He wanted to be called, "your excellency."  He imprisoned editors who disagreed with him.  He had come to be an enemy of his old friend Mr. Jefferson.

Nevertheless, he handed over power without any sort of struggle.  He handed power over to a man who walked to the White House from the capitol after his inaugural address, walked followed by an entourage of children and workmen.  After that, he freed the editors.  Someone will say that he thought freedom more important for editors than for his slaves.

We still have a lot of problems in this country.  We have more problems than we had before George W. Bush was president, but the simple phrase "there were no arrests" in the story above should give us a good deal of hope.  pl



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23 Responses to Bush at Monticello

  1. all right, if you say to have some hope, I shall. Thank you, and Happy Independence Day (1 day late)

  2. JohnH says:

    Bush has his right to free speech…and the people have the right to theirs.
    I am often disgusted at event organizers to demand that an audience “let us hear” the opinions–often with no Q&A afterwards–of a powerful person who already has all the media attention he wants. It is sad that the protesters were escorted away, so that Bush could enjoy his privilege of free speech while the protesters were denied one of their few oppotunities to confront a terribly misguided and powerful person.

  3. otiwa ogede says:

    yes, and the sky hasn’t crushed our heads either. oh, how far we have fallen.

  4. Bartolo says:

    You are not the first to decry the protests at Monticello. However, since this individual rarely meets the general public, I say go for it. Those new citizens got a rare shot of democracy yesterday.

  5. J says:

    i was reading the other day where our u.s. dollar has ‘declined’ 41% under the bush admin..

  6. jonst says:

    I think Jefferson would have gotten a kick out of the protests. I found them exhilarating. I want the SOB to hear the words “war criminal”. Even more, I want the Americans who saw it on TV to hear the words. Though I doubt many will agree. We need to be poked out of our stupor.

  7. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    Thank you for reporting that no arrests were made. Nevertheless, that you would be sensitive to that datum and comment about it in the context of Adams presidency gives pause.
    I hope you’re right. But it is symptomatic of the tension we all feel that seven months remain before the next president takes office. That those seven months will prove to be as uneventful as the ‘no arrests in Albemarle County’ remains worthy of a few earnest prayers.

  8. Mike Martin, Yorktown, VA says:

    Protesters would have done well, on this day and this occasion, to limit themselves to a more dignified display. I would rather have seen our retiring Senator John Warner officiate.
    That said, let’s give thanks that the current president (I will not use his name) does not choose to visit landmarks such as Monticello, Gettysburg and Mount Vernon because of the commotion that travels with him.
    I read that his visit to Dubai a few months ago cost their economy $120 million dollars due to security measures.

  9. Andy says:

    Col. Lang,
    As you know I live in San Antonio (home to the Alamo for those who don’t know) and have for about three years now. For almost all my life I have never liked Texas or Texans (I won’t belabor the reasons here), but having lived here my mind is now changed and I consider them and the state no worse than any other. I do have to say that Texans are probably the most courteous drivers I’ve encountered anywhere.
    I would agree the Alamo is not all that impressive, but to me that is unsurprising considering the history of the region. Most of the west was sparsely settled by Europeans and architecture therefore was utilitarian by necessity. It doesn’t help that it’s in the middle of the seventh-largest US city, surrounded by large modern buildings, and therefore completely detached from its historic landscape. Put the main house at Monticello in the middle of a major city surrounded by loud and busy streets and it would be remarkably diminished.

  10. GSD says:

    In a related story a German protester attacked a wax statue of Adolph Hitler and removed the head from the body.

  11. J says:

    what would have been a good tribute to our nation’s 4th, would have been u.s. marshals arresting bush at montecello and carting him off to a booking desk then to a jail cell. bush’s crimes against our Constitution is no laughing matter, and it is sad that Congress would willingly emasculate their impeachment power, thus leaving our republic to the evil clutches of a unitary executive.

  12. Uncle $cam says:

    Shouldn’t that had read, “there were no arrests,… this time” ? In any event, carry on..

  13. Cujo359 says:

    What happened? Couldn’t they map out a “free speech zone” at Monticello?
    I suppose I’m of two minds on this protest. On the one hand, there is, as others have observed, remarkably little chance to break through the bubble that surrounds President Bush. Any break from that isolation, as long as it doesn’t involve arrest or bodily harm, seems like a good thing.
    On the other hand, it’s also a special place. I think I’d feel as though protest were out of place there. Of course, my guess is that one of the last people to agree with me would be Thomas Jefferson.

  14. rjj says:

    For almost all my life I have never liked Texas or Texans …but having lived [in San Antonio] my mind is now changed and I consider them and the state no worse than any other.
    Texans are like Mongols — or elephants: their magnificence is not apparent till you see them in their natural habitat.

  15. Patrick Lang says:

    I agree that Jefferson would have been enormously amused and gratified at the sight of this. pl

  16. cletracsteve says:

    From someone 6 hours away from D.C., I would say – why not add Williamsburg, Manassas, Philly Independence Square, Antietam, Harpers Ferry ……. as ‘must dos’, almost equally close. Well, there is a reason. Terists go there. For those whom even one’s mother language is a second language, ‘terrorist’ and ‘tourist’ sound a like and cannot be distinguished. Try our airports. Hell, just try to get into Mamouth Cave.

  17. I find it interesting that you have to — with bated breath — even consider the possibility that the protesters would not be freed. Why even the shadow of a doubt, in the land of “freedom of speech,” as Bush crowed when they hauled the people away.
    I know we shouldn’t take such things — like a gift — for granted, but these are not gifts but rights; and a right is something we should only think twice about when it is being threatened.
    I know you often talk against the background of much subtext, Colonel, so perhaps this is your subtle way of reminding us that under this presidency these rights are not so secure nor to be taken so much for granted.

  18. Spider Rider says:

    Cynic, I understand your point, but I thought it interesting, within context, as Col Lang pointed out, John Adams jailed editors, and wanted to be referred to as “your excellency.”
    Power does strange things, I suppose, there seems to be precedent for imperialistic behavior in the American presidency, a study would be fascinating.
    I wonder if someone has written that book, yet?
    Bush and Cheney are nothing new under the sun.

  19. You touch on something I’ve been thinking about for years and years.
    How do we balance progress towards an ideal state of equality and freedoms while remaining grateful for how good we’ve got it when compared to most countries on the planet?
    I’ve lived in a highly corrupt, third world country where political campaigns can include kidnappings and killings. Where the people are kept uneducated and ignorant to ensure they remain oppressed. Where military leaders are businessmen first, politicians second, and soldiers last. Where military juntas turn their force against peasants.
    It ain’t pretty. And apart from Western Europe, Canada, the USA, and a smattering of other countries around the globe, it’s par for course.
    Our Bill of Rights is a gift to us from those who fought for it. We should take the opportunity to use that gift as much as possible – it would be rude not to!
    But our gratitude should govern when and where we exercise our rights, as well. The ceremony at mount Vernon was for our new citizens, not Bush nor the protesters. We should honor their special day by shutting up for awhile.
    For thus of us who have been here for generations, our cynical eye sees an opportunist, liar and propagandist visiting Monticello. As the Post article highlights, I also believe our new citizens see something very, very different.

  20. Mike Martin, Yorktown, VA says:

    CWZ, you said it perfectly. There’s a time and a place for everything. I suspect that the occasion of
    gaining US citizenship is, for these folks, exceeded in importance to their lives only by marriage and the birth of a child. It should have been a solemn and uninterrupted ceremony.
    Jefferson’s reaction? My guess he would not have appreciated this display at his home, but he would have loved it and quite possibly joined in had it occurred in a public setting.

  21. Ed Brayton reported the following about Bush at Monticello:
    Bush quoted Jefferson:
    “May it be to the world, what I believe it will be — to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all — the Signal of arousing men to burst the chains, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government.”
    but edited out the following from the original:
    the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government.

  22. Kevin says:

    Col Lang,
    The Alamo is a Texas thing you just would not understand. I will a part of two change of command ceremonies in the upcomming months: one for my battalion commander(he is also running for US Senate, BTW), and one for my brigade commander- both will be in front of the Alamo.
    “You may all go to hell and I will go to Texas.”
    -Davy Crockett
    This is our crest

  23. MW Furr says:

    I have to say that given the solemnity that should have been a part of the occasion, that either Bush, or Monticello should have thought twice about having such a divisive speaker. Not that I disagree with protesting this administration, but it seems so sad that the new citizens had their parade rained upon. But then again, it did give them the rare opportunity to see what our country should truly be about–peaceful protests. Jefferson would have agreed–the current administration flies in the face of the idea of a responsible and just government.

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