Friday, March 26, 2010

Idiot With A Megaphone Wants To Be Heard

Apparently transcribing the rantings of a crazy person is worthy of front page coverage in the Washington Post:
IOWA CITY, IOWA -- He had no plans to throw bricks, issue death threats, spit in faces or scream racial slurs. But Randy Millam, 52, intended to make a scene, so he woke up early Thursday morning to prepare for President Obama's visit.

Millam sat at his kitchen table in Lowden, Iowa, with 14 Sharpie markers and a piece of foam board, working to condense a year of frustration into a 3-by-3-foot catchphrase. "Chains We Can Believe In," he wrote, drawing the communist hammer and sickle on the poster's top left corner. Then he grabbed an American flag, inserted batteries into a megaphone bought on the cheap for $25 and guzzled a 24-hour energy drink. Just as Obama took off in Air Force One for Iowa City, Millam loaded into his muddy Ford Fusion and drove 50 miles across the cornfields of eastern Iowa.

"The president just about declared war against the American people last weekend," he said. And it is a war Millam intends to fight.

Millam's resolve Thursday was reinforced by the sense that he was taking part in a movement -- a rising tide of anger, fear and vitriol in the wake of the health-care overhaul signed into law by Obama this week. Millam joined a chorus of discontent surrounding the president's visit: a warm-up protest Wednesday night, a greeting party of protesters waiting at the airport and hundreds more with plans to chant outside the downtown arena while Obama spoke. In the hours before he left for Iowa City, Millam watched reports on Fox News Channel about vandalism at Democratic offices and visited a Web site of the conservative "tea party" movement, where he was inspired by a Thomas Jefferson quote about how bloodshed might be necessary to protect a country from tyranny.

"I'm not ready for outright violence yet. We have to be civil for as long as we can," Millam said. But, he added, "we are watching the infrastructure of this country crumble under our feet. The government doesn't want to hear us. We have to make them listen."
. . .
He walked to the front of the protest crowd and lifted the megaphone to his mouth.

"Fellow patriots," he bellowed. "We are standing outside the arena right now because the president controls the crowd, controls the message, controls the people of this country. That is not freedom! That is not democracy! That is not the America I grew up in!"
. . .
Another: "It's communism!"

Another: "Obamunism!"
. . .
Millam rested the megaphone on his stomach. His voice was getting hoarse, and his legs ached. He'd been shouting for almost two hours now, and some protesters were beginning to leave. "Where is Obama?" he asked. Another demonstrator told him that the president had finished his speech, entering and exiting the arena through a different entrance, and Millam snorted in disgust.

"Why does the president of the United States have to sneak in the back door to avoid seeing the real people in this country?" he shouted into the megaphone. "That's not right. That's just not right."

His words died out. The rally was over. He turned off the megaphone and walked to his car. While the president flew back to Washington, Millam drove home on the rural highways of Iowa. He wondered: What would it take to be heard, and what would he try next?
Other than one sentence that describes a college student mocking them, the piece never once brings up the fact that this man is living in a fantasy world. Nothing that he states in the article has even the slightest bearing on reality. Instead, it glorifies him as a downtrodden political activist, wondering if his voice will ever be heard. He's portrayed as the average American, compared to the unfair caricatures of teabaggers that have dogged their movement (they're so reasonable that he said it's not time for outright violence, yet).

What is the purpose of publishing this man's thoughts, unedited? To paraphrase atrios, what is their goal? They clearly aren't interested in educating their readers, so what is it?

The real value of the article is marking another milestone on the post's path towards irrelevance: The day the published a teabagger's rantings as front page news.


  1. What strikes me about this Millan is how false his every word is. Like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, he relies entirely on abstractions he makes no effort to support. His understanding of American politics "the president controls the message" "the president owns your body" is on the level of a third-grader.

  2. @anon... and yet he gets a front page feature in the Washington post, without any counter to those assertions.

  3. it has become clear to me that the Post is obsessed with erasing the "liberal bastion" reputation it has acquired. the more important question isn't why they would publish irrelevant bullshit such as this as front page news; rather why do they care whether or not they're viewed as liberal-leaning? it won't affect their sales in the slightest.

    good journalism is about good reporting and good writing. this story has neither. in fact, publishing this tripe at all is downright irresponsible, let alone on the front page.