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Andrew Card Protest

Today I attended a peaceful rally on the UMass campus protesting the honorary degree for Andrew Card. There were 200-300 people -- mostly students -- who beat on plastic water bottles, shook rattles, and chanted. I particularly liked the sign that said, succinctly, "DIS CARD". Reportedly, there was a huge police presence lurking inside Whitmore with vans and paddywagons ready to swoop in if the protest became unruly. There was a brief moment when the crowd looked like it might try to enter Whitmore, but the organizers redirected the crowd off toward another building, telling them that they had already succeeded in shutting down the administators who had basically all left the building. They marched off toward Goodell.

The Hampshire Gazette this morning had an article with extensive quotes from Andrew Card saying that protesters "might want to do some homework." He continued:

'In my experience, protesters have taken quotes in newspapers out of context and the things they say don't always reflect the reality of the burden of the decisions we have to make,' Card said.

For example, when Bush asked him to rustle up some hamburgers or needed Card as a bicycling companion, Card said that he realized his wife, children, and grandkids suffer as a result of his service to the president. "[T]hat is a burden I carry," he solemnly told The Washington Post.

There may be some individual exaggerations, but on whole, I think the picture of Andrew Card that's presented by the protesters is correct. Andrew Card coordinated the White House Iraq Group that was charged with "selling the war" to the American people. Andrew Card was also at the center of weakening environmental protections (he issued the memo that prevented lower mercury standards from being put into place, for example) and setting up advisory committees with industry insiders and people with political connections, rather than scientific credentials. Hundreds of thousands have already died in the Iraq war as a direct result of the White House policies that Andrew Card advanced, but millions will probably die as a result of the White House blocking any meaningful response to global warming.

Not everyone at the protest was against Andrew Card. There were a few members of the Young Republicans there who protested the protest. One fellow would shout periodically that "Andrew Card kept you safe!" I have a hard time understanding why anyone would think that we're more safe now than we were before the Bush presidency.