it's hard to imagine a scene more absurd than a president giving a speech that used the word "freedom" 17 times in lines like "We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it" just after a woman is dragged out of the room and arrested for wearing a t-shirt with a message that the president's handlers didn't like. as will points out. her arrest was clearly unconstitutional. but worse than that it seemed to undermine one of the main points that bush was trying to make minutes later when he took the lectern. actions speak louder than soundbites, after all.
but maybe the thing that offends me most of all about the whole incident is just how stupid it was. the charges against sheehan won't stick. she'll be free soon enough and undeterred from future protests. if they had just ignored her and let her sit there while the president spoke, few people would have noticed. at best, some cameraman might have flashed a shot of her on the screen, and maybe one of the post-speech talking heads would have noted her presence and the message on her shirt. she would have had a couple of seconds, but that would have been it.
instead, they made more of a spectacle of sheehan than she could have done herself. as of this writing there are some 1,380 news articles mentioning the incident and several devoting entire articles to it. removing a person because of what her t-shirt says is not just morally and legally wrong, it's just plain stupid from a purely political standpoint.
and we're supposed to feel safer with these guys in charge?
UPDATE (10:10 p.m.) glenn greenwald once again kicks ass with this issue. when am i ever gonna to get around to adding him to the blogroll (like a half dozen others)?