How all of this came about is a pretty good story in itself. I was sitting in the bleachers at the Liberty Summit on Thursday morning, thinking about how I was going to find the other Oklahomans in the crowd. The guy that set up our congressional meetings had set the meetings on Friday, not Thursday as the national schedule called for. As a result, we weren’t going to get any face time with any of our congressmen, just the staff. I wasn’t going to let that happen.
So the speaker announced that they were starting in 5 minutes, and I thought I’d ask if he could announce that I was looking for other Okies. As I was explaining the situation, he tapped a guy on the shoulder, and introduced me. It was Senator Inoffe, my Senator. After explaining the situation, Inhoffe offered to announce my plight during his talk, and asked if we would come see him in the afternoon. We had one meeting with Congressman Lucas, a meeting that I had set up myself, and we found another guy that was meeting with Boren’s staff. Found five or six Oklahomans as well to take to the Boren staff meeting, later we had around 12 to the Lucas meeting, and around 20 at the Inhofe meeting..
So I was waiting by the exit to catch any other Okies, and this lady walks up with a video guy, starts asking questions about why I was there. I thought it was another small patriot group doing some footage, had met one already doing just that. The lady said her organization, but I thought I had misunderstood. She asked if she could come to my meeting with Inhofe, I said yes and went on doing what I was doing.
A bit later she came back and we talked some more. I decided she was asking a lot of questions, so I asked again who she was with. CNN…. I liked to have fallen over.
She showed up at Senator Inhoffe’s office at the meeting, filmed part of the 20 person meeting till Inhofe asked her to go so we could talk privately. They waited outside till we got done, then interviewed me. They tossed me some soft ball questions, then asked about Joe Wilson and what he said at Obama’s speech. Luckliy, I had been too busy to keep up with the current stories, so I didn’t have a clue who Joe Wilson was.
Then Saturdayafter the event had shut down, the producer called again,asking if I would interview live. Our bus was about to leave, but we had plenty of help to see them off (I was flying in the next day), so I decided to do the interview. CNN had a platform set up near the stage, where they had filmed the event. They had maybe six people making things happen. It was pretty interesting. You see these interviews all the time on TV, the anchor sits in New York, and the interviewee has a camera trained on him, microphone and an ear plug, where he can hear the anchor’s questions. You don’t see the anchor, just listen to him.
They had two guys with some of our white signs, using the back of the signs as reflector to correct the lighting, one guy held up the carboard on each side of you as they filmed. The producer tracked the anchor man as he broadcast the show, giving us cues as to when we were going live. Then there was a sound guy that wired me up and managed sound levels, and of course an couple of their reporters, one of which was Jim Spellman.
Jim Spellman was the reporter that followed the Tea Party Express bus across the land. Here is a video of the guy http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/08/28/tea.party.express/index.html?iref=newssearch#cnnSTCVideo.
At first they had me siting some distance away, I could watch, but not hear what was going on. As my time spot got closer, they moved me in about six feet away, started hanging the microphone on me, earphone, checking sound levels. At this point, Jim Spellman starts a live report about seeing a dark side to the Tea Party movement, Nazi swastikas and AK47s at the Tea Parties along the bus route, saying that many of us believed there were concentration camps that Obama was going to use on us, shutting down the internet, just about every far out rumor that has been spread around. I’m sitting there thinking that I had walked into a trap and was going to get chopped up. Jim Spellman really takes a hatchet to us then they go into a break. Probably commercials.
They finish with him, rush me up onto the small platform you stand on, test the microphone, that sort of stuff. I’m wondering if I should just bail out, but decide they are likely trying to rattle me, to get me upset enough to make a fool out of myself and the partiot movement. That makes me start getting mad. It takes about ten minutes for the program to get back to me, and I can hear the program through my ear piece.
My interview starts off with Don Lemon, the anchor, introducing me, where I am from, pleasentries really. Then he references Jim Spellman’s report earlier, without being specific, leaving some doubt as to whether it was the hatchet job Jim did on us right before the break. Don then asks about the “dark” side that Jim was speaking to. I was ready for that one, had planned out several replies, all of which put the blame back on Obama and the politicians for not being clear on their plans for the nation. I blamed the extreme talk on fear and rumors, then started leading the conversation away from the “dark” side and into safer ground, the slide into socialism. I knew I could get him to bite on that bait.
Sure enough, he swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. I got into GM, insurance company, and bank bailouts, leading him further and further away from where he started. From his stumbling response, you could tell he really didn’t know the difference between socialism and othe forms of government, didn’t get that government control of businesses was a step in that direction. Really, facism fits the definition better, but I didn’t want the discussion to be about facism or Hitler. But I had the hook set well, so I interrupted him while he was speaking, correcting him when he said we were a democracy. Putting him off balance, leading him away from what he wanted to talk about and to where I wanted to define our movement. At this point, he is stumbling, not for sure if we are a capitalistic society or a democratic one so I offer him a lifeline, I turn the discussion to health care.
Again he follows, seeing some firm footing in the swamp and goes for it. He doesn’t quite understand how he got to this point, from asking about the “dark” side of our group to now talking about health care, but he thinks he is on familar ground. Quickly he grabs a lifeline “Al, has his, but what about others?” He is trying to define me as “selfish” now. At this point we are far away from dangerous ground, so I can hammer home the facts, that no one has to worry about health care in this country, or if they do, it isn’t the disenfranchised that worry, it is the middle class. He has to admit, on the air live, that there is no health care problem for the poor. With no legs left to his arguement, he is forced to change his focus from combative to concilitory so he asks me what we want we want done. He isn’t likely smart enough to have picked up the “control” issue that is waiting in the wings should he be slow enough to stay on the stubject.
My final thoughts were that the guy isn’t a monster,he is just a regular guy, but he hasn’t enough real education to understand the different forms that government can take. He doesn’t have a lot of experience with people challenging him so he isn’t ready to address real facts. Some serious challenging of his “facts” might well change his opinion eventually. His staff gets it, they congratulated me on handling the situation so well.
Here is a link to some of the reporting they were doing that focused on the most extreme of the protesters.
And here is the CNN video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bNPu5keAdc