Friday, November 19, 2010

Over 1,000 Utahns Greet George W. Bush During Decision Points Book-Signing In Sandy, Utah; Rocky Anderson Leads Protest Of 70 In Pioneer Park

Over 1000 people lined up at the Costco warehouse in Sandy, Utah to greet former President George W. Bush during his book-signing to promote his new book, "Decision Points". However, former Salt Lake mayor Rocky Anderson decided to greet Bush in a different way -- with a protest rally.

Media Sources: the Salt Lake Tribune (Bush and Rocky), the Deseret News (Bush and Rocky), the Salt Lake City Weekly, KTVX Channel 4, KSTU Channel 13 (with video), and KSL Channel 5. KSL news video embedded below:

Video Courtesy of KSL.com


Officials say between 900 and 950 people got to quickly meet Bush beginning at 1:00 P.M. and have him sign copies of his new memoir, "Decision Points". Most had two books each, at $18.99 per copy. Many had waited in line all night for the opportunity; Costco put out portable heaters and toilets to accommodate them. To effectively control the crowd, organizers gave out 1,000 wristbands to those in line by 8 A.M. on Friday November 19th. The first 500 were guaranteed a meet-and-greet with Bush. For the next 250, a meet-and-greet was likely, while the remaining 250 faced only a long-shot for actually meeting Bush. Before the signing, Bush met briefly with Gov. Gary Herbert and other Republican Party leaders.

One typical person who showed up was Robert Holewinski, who served in the Army under Bush and was among the first solders to reach Baghdad as part of the Bravo Company 164 Armor Division of the 3rd Infantry in 2003. He showed the former president a citation he received for his service. He told his former commander-in-chief that he was glad to have served under him. A number of other people cited Bush for his character, honesty, and integrity; many also expressed admiration for the fact that Bush has refrained from publicly criticizing Obama.

Former Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson, a strident critic of Bush, also showed up -- but not at Costco, and not to greet Bush. Anderson held his "Rally For Accountability" in Pioneer Park to protest Bush's visit starting at 12 noon. It's the fourth time that Anderson, currently the executive director of High Road for Humanity (actually named High Road for Human Rights), has protested a Bush visit, and the rally attracted about 70 supporters and a full complement of Salt Lake media. The rally featured speeches condemning torture, the Bush Administration's role in military interrogation techniques at Abu Ghraib prison and the use of information extracted through use of controversial interrogation techniques such as waterboarding. Speakers condemned the fact that while ordinary soldiers have been prosecuted for torture, Bush Administration officials have not been held accountable. Also present was Utah Coalition of La Raza Chairman Archie Archuleta. Here's a 58-second clip of Rocky's rant:



But the ugly fanaticism of the crowd sooned reared its head. Many advocated that Bush and his officials be arrested for war crimes and treason. Anderson himself denounced Bush as a "war criminal" and demanded he be brought to justice. In downtown Salt Lake City, the tone was decidedly more hostile. Signs declaring "Torture Stains Everyone," "Worst President Ever" and "Arrest Bush" waved as freeway-bound cars honked. In a lame effort to defray criticism, Rocky Anderson also took a perfunctory swipe at Barack Obama, saying that the lack of a Bush prosecution equals complicity.

Utah GOP Chairman Dave Hansen correctly blew off Anderson’s rant, saying "He was basically preaching into the wind that was blowing out there."

Substantive media reviews of "Decision Points" have been published by the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and a British newspaper, the Guardian.

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