Veteran Protester Gets Hauled Out of Bush Speech After Calling Him a Liar, War Criminal
By Ian Firstenberg
Former President George W. Bush joined celebrities and journalists alike on a speaking circuit when he was rudely reminded by an Iraq War veteran of the crimes against humanity he helped perpetrate.
Former President George W. Bush spoke in the Los Angeles area Sunday and Monday night as part of the Distinguished Speakers Series of Southern California, a swanky speaking circuit featuring public intellectuals and celebrities alike.
Bush was joined by former Naval intelligence officer and Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, late-night host Jay Leno and others.
The stage was set, the red felt chairs with their well-polished gold borders aligned neatly in the Beverly Hills Saban Theater.
Much to the dismay of the speakers and guests, an Iraq War veteran had the audacity to disrupt Bush’s speech by denouncing the illegal war. Before veteran Mike Prysner could read the names of Iraqi civilians killed in the war or the names of his compatriots who died from subsequent injuries or suicide, he was accosted by security and escorted out.
Another 30 or so people had gathered to protest outside the Saban Theater.
The following night, Bush’s Long Beach speech was disrupted again, this time by activist Jeb Sprague. In this instance, police rather than security handled the situation and were significantly rougher.
The protests are unabashedly courageous. To step back though, Bush is doing a speaking tour about the “challenges facing our nation in the 21st century.” That’s sort of like if Bernie Madoff taught a financial management course. Yeah, he probably has the expertise, but maybe he’s not the best guy for that.
The man who helped drag America into two illegal wars, balloon the defense budget and oversaw deregulation that led to the recession isn’t the best guy to dissect the challenges America is facing. But, on some very dark level, it’s almost funny.
In a real sense, the joke is on us. This man and his cohort — former Vice President Dick Cheney and twice U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (surely looking up at us with a smile) and the rest of the neocons — won the war. They successfully revolutionized politics and got their bags. They and their friends made billions off all of us.
And yet, there he was. All wrinkly with that greying hair and big ol’ cheeky grin. The contradiction begs the question: Why?
Why wouldn’t a man like that just retire quietly in some west Texas estate or some stone palace in New Haven? Why ever come out again?
The answer is disturbingly simple: Because he can. Despite the courageous and valiant protests, Bush can still give any speaking engagement he wants. The week earlier he delivered a saccharine 10-minute speech at the Flight 93 memorial. His celebrity status is still high despite his war crimes and inarticulate speeches.
Despite the protests, W. will likely sleep soundly. Bush’s sweet and oil-colored dreams aside, we must live in the hell he helped create. For that, we all should be as outraged as Prysner and Sprague.