Saturday, April 22, 2006

Protesters Force Bush's Motorcade to Crawl Along Narrow Mountain Road

Photos by John Burgess

While the lede read "President Bush made a stealthy arrival in the Napa Valley on Friday, avoiding protesters as his motorcade took a little-used mountain road to a St. Helena resort for an overnight stay," the fact is protesters disrupted the schedule and the nerves of the Coward-in-Chief who gets cranky when things don't go his way.

Thousands of noisy demonstrators had gathered along the Silverado Trail to voice their displeasure or support for the president, and local residents had gathered at a St. Helena school hoping his helicopter might land nearby.

But after several hours of anticipation, the president arrived by helicopter just before dark at the Angwin Airport. Lights from the president's 27-car motorcade snaked south along Howell Mountain Road about 8:30 p.m., disappearing after the 7-mile drive into the exclusive Meadowood resort, where suites can cost as much as $4,000 a night.

I know the road, and after dark, with no street lights, that motorcade was a belly crawl. It must have taken them close to an hour to drive those seven miles to the resort on that road. It's a curving mountain road, made all the more treacherous by the unseasonably wet winter and spring in northern California. The rains let up last week after record-setting months of daily downpours. It's hard to imagine that there was even much time between the announcement of the visit and the visit itself for clearing the roads of the trees and limbs that come down regularly in these storms.

This is the road that Bush's motorcade escaped from, choosing the narrower, unlit, twisty Howell Mountain road instead.
Most of the protesters expressed opposition to the war in Iraq, but other causes also were reflected, including immigration, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the president's economic policy.

"He's come here by mistake. He should be going the other direction, to the International Criminal Court," said Steve Scalmanini, a Ukiah resident who rode to the protest aboard the Veterans For Peace bus, which is based in Willits.

"I didn't feel like I could sit at home when a president in a war has time for a vacation," Monica Vincent of Sebastopol said. "I don't think mothers of dead Iraqi children are taking a vacation."

This, on top of protesters disrupting his arrival in the South Bay earlier in the day (ultimately blocking it and forcing a last minute change of venue for that event), must have made Bush a complete joy and delight to be around.

But instead of popping a cork on that complimentary bottle of Napa county wine left in the Presidential Suite (of all places to book a 'dry' White House resident for an overnight stay, hundreds of miles out of the way of where he's been and in the opposite direction of where he's off to early the following day - let's stop kidding ourselves about his alleged sobriety), I have a better way for Bush to alleviate his stress and anxiety - Take a walk with Pink and meet it head on:

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