Everything you read in the newspapers is absolutely true, except for that rare story of which you happen to have first-hand knowledge. – Erwin Knoll
By Carl-John X Veraja
Having followed the GOP presidential primaries with a fixation born of dread, amusement, and disgust, I was somewhat intrigued when I heard Newt Gingrich was coming to my stomping grounds in the wake of the news of the unusual twist in Iowa and Gingrich win in South Carolina. Florida had opted to change the date of its primary, believing that they could possibly provide momentum to the winning candidate. Now that Gingrich had had a surprise win in South Carolina, would this turn out to be the case? Mitt Romney must be dreading the possibility of losing again, given that McCain upset him here 4 years ago.
When I arrived at the Newt Gingrich rally in Fort Myers, Florida, I realized I didn’t have any of my business cards left. So, I was forced to use an expired Geico insurance card as a press pass, hoping this would counterbalance my Murder Junkies t-shirt.
A crowd of hundreds was assembled. Several vendor stands hocked pins and t-shirts. There were also t-shirts featuring certain profound principles like America is good. Something was missing though, and I didn’t know what.
A stage had been set up for camera crews and I flirted with the idea of mounting it, flashing my insurance card as my credentials, but I really had no idea how long Newt would be in coming.
So, I wandered about, taking pictures, and flashing my winsome grin at Republicans. Some of them stitched their brows. I had had very little sleep the night before and I didn’t feel inspired.
I decided to interview a random person. I approached a senior woman who seemed lonely and detached. Her name was Beverly Llewellyn
“I think they are a good conservative party and I think they have the best interests of the country and I think Newt is the most knowledgeable, the most capable person,” Llewellyn said. “If someone else gets the nomination I’ll support them.”
I asked if she was part of the middle class and she said, “A little better than that.”
Eventually, I found some union members in one corner of the assemblage. Soon enough, a heated exchange took place, started by a gentlemen who appeared as if he’d been drinking or was medicated, you decide. I somewhat sympathized with him, as I have also fallen from a more monied state. He was momentarily entertaining.
Several members of Occupy Fort Myers were present, and when they attempted to move forward in the crowd of onlookers a brief scuffle broke out. The police, lead by Sargeant O’Reilly, who had previously issued me a citation for covering another Occupy Fort Myers event, restored peace. The citation was thrown out of court.
Matthew McDowell was soon in engaged in a series of discussions with Newt supporters. Corporate person and money as speech were the most common topics. Highlighting the themes was a woman dressed up as a corporation.
At one point, the police conferred with McDowell, asking him to move away from the main body of the Newt supporters. After the confrontation, one of the officers slapped me on the back and told me they appreciated my camera work.
Lockheed Martin Wonders Where the Water Is
- It was around this time that I started to feel dizzy. I decided to see if anyone was selling water.
Alas, that was what had been missing earlier. My throat was dry and I felt anxiety coming on.
A sense of unreality descended on these Republican faces as sleep deprivation and dehydration set in.
After having determined there was no water to be had, and cursing these capitalists for not acting like capitalists and seizing on the opportunity to rip me off for water in the hot Florida sun, I returned to where Occupy Fort Myers was making its stand.
“Independence Day,” by Martina McBride played. Then, the music was momentarily lowered and a speaker with a bullhorn told everyone that Newt was the most honest person they had ever known. You could trust him.
McDowell showed me a scratch on his arm he had received at the behest on a long-nailed onlooker who thought he was pushing his luck trying to get to the front of the crowd.
Another speaker informed us that a highly respected doctor had informed her that Obamacare would lead to something akin to death panels. A hopeless moan fluttered through the crowd.
“Occupy is here being a presence in everything dealing with the political system right now,” said McDowell. “He’s been in the political system for nearly 30 years now. He’s done a lot to protect the 1 percent and we want to make sure his family values are not pushed on everyone else.”
Another speaker lead us in prayer and then the Pledge of Allegiance.
“Sheep,” I shouted grumpily.
Eventually, Gingrich’s bus arrived. A speaker told us how special this was. It was a bus, after all.
Occupy Fort Myers informed me they were moving on to Gingrich’s next stop to interact with the crowd there. Gingrich began to complain about the cost of gas under Obama, which wasn’t surprising given his bus probably gets about 2 miles to the gallon.
As he droned on about the foolishness of not approving the Keystone XL Pipeline, which act would lead to an unholy alliance between Canada and China, I found myself very desirous of some ice cream. I realized I was coming down with something and was done for the day.
I started for my car, Gingrich voice following me. Obama was wrong, foolish, and possibly an infiltrator. Regulations were the problem. We needed to repeal Obamacare, overturn Sarbanes-Oxley, get things back to how they were before the recession–
I got in my car, shut the voice out, and headed home. I mean, there was a State of the Union address to watch.
However, before that could occur, I was informed McDowell was arrested right after I left. According to what I heard, McDowell was defending another Occupier who had been pushed to the ground when he was seized by police.
So, with a sense of foreboding, I awaited Obama’s speech…