Dallas’ Double Dose of Sarah Palin

“You are pathetic. Such ignorant liberal narrow minded democrats. The donkey is the perferct symbol for you jack asses”

This past Thursday and Friday Dallas, Texas, double-dosed on the media frenzy caused by Palin pageantry, first with a round of debate watch parties and second with a well-attended protest of a live Sarah Palin appearance at a Republican fundraiser. Thursday night, October 2, progressive debate watch parties took place all over the Dallas –Ft. Worth metroplex. More than twenty-five debate parties listed on the Obama-Biden website my barackobama.com took place in a seventy-five mile radius, plus countless other private screenings. The debate screening at the mid-town Angelika Film Center and Cafe drew a crowd of well over two hundred people, ranging from newly registered college-aged voters to local candidates running for office.

“Obama Is a Lying Marxist Scumbag”

The auditorium and lobby fairly buzzed with energy before the screening got started. Local Democratic candidate for State representative Emil Reichstatdt lounged his 6’ plus frame in an aisle seat while congenially greeting debate watchers and passing out campaign flyers. A former Judge Advocate General in the US Army with an outstanding history of service and community organizer work, Reichstadt strongly supports Barack Obama for president. He said he felt Obama won the first debate by speaking clearly as an agent for change, while McCain just offered more of the same as GW Bush. Asked if he’d like to debate, himself, he grinned and shrugged, “I’d love to debate, but my Republican opponent refuses to. Open discourse on the issues will give voters a chance to see our differences.”  (www.Emil2008.com) Out at he head of the long line winding down the film center hallway, University Park area resident Emily said she couldn’t wait to watch the debate with like-minded people but hoped Palin wouldn’t get crucified too badly. Not too far behind her, David and Mary from the Lakewood neighborhood seemed anxious. “Palin knows how to speak to a crowd; either of them could flub up badly.” After the eager crowd found their seats, popcorn and drinks safely situated, regional Obama activist Matt Tranchen warmed up the crowd, praising the many volunteers in the audience who had helped to register over 125,000 new Democratic voters in Dallas over the past six months. Dallas appears to be glowing brighter with a blue tint all the time. After the debate, several who attended sat down at the nearby Trinity Hall Irish Pub for a snack, a pint and to mull it all over. One family, Mike and Ellen with their adult son Dave, said Biden won the debate hands down. They felt Palin was allowing herself to be used by the Republican machine and that her presence “set back the cause of women by 1000 years.” They wondered why McCain would pick someone as a running mate with next to no substantive qualifications or experience. “We drove across town to attend this debate party with other progressives and look forward to the Obama Inauguration in January 2009.”

“Stop trying to intimidate people into not supporting the candidate of their choice. What I see coming from the Barack Hussien Obama campaign is disgusting.”

It’s clear that John McCain wouldn’t agree with Mike and Ellen and Dave.
Speaking on a Maine TV station on Sept. 11, McCain said his running mate “knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America.” It’s hard to know upon what evidence his claim is based as the McCain campaign won’t let her share her ideas with the public. But Republican debate watchers came away from Thursday’s debate sure their candidate had won, very pleased with Palin’s responses and ability to “cut Biden down to size.” One 30-something north Dallas voter, a lifelong Republican who threw her own debate watch party, said she always has her girlfriends over, and they all cheered for Sarah Palin. “We have one friend who supports, you know, Obama, and it just doesn’t feel right to include her when we watch the political things. We still love her. I mean, we all have to vote how we believe; it just seems awkward, and we don’t want to make her feel bad.” Not all Dallas area Republicans exhibit such tolerance and acceptance of differing points of view.

“I will join your other Fascist thugs. And beat the crap out of them if they threaten the lovely and gracious Sarah”

On October 3, regional Republicans got the opportunity to see Sarah Palin in person at Dallas’ downtown swanky Fairmont Hotel, at a luncheon featuring Texas’ governor and other dignitaries and friends of the Bush family. The cost to attend the fundraiser ranged from $1,000 for a single guest ticket to $57,000 per couple to chair the event, with proceeds going to the National Republican Committee. Dallas business entrepreneur and lesbian activist Dawn Meifert seized the opportunity to voice her opinion about Sarah Palin when it presented itself. Meifert said she organized a protest as much to “get the attention of the people who might support” Palin financially as to send a message to the candidate herself. “We also wanted to get the media’s attention. All the media is talking about how all the white women are supporting McCain now because he chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. Well, not the white women we know. We want to show the media and everybody else that isn’t true, not even in areas like Dallas that are traditionally considered to be conservative.”

“Classy, classy. “Welcome March” Yeh, right. You guys keep it up. You are showing the real people of America just what you guys are –
“hate mongers”.”

It seemed like a great chance to take freedom of speech to the streets. No one intended to impede the high dollar luncheon; protesters just wanted to show Dallas it was fine to have a different point of view and healthy to express it. When the Dallas Voice (www.dallasvoice.com) interviewed Meifert about her plans, the word spread like wildfire. Other activists got on board and posted flyers around town, on websites and e-lists and newsletters. An Obama supporter listed the Protest on mybarackobama.com. Dallas Code Pink organizer Nancy Cunningham listed the event on the Air America affiliated North Texas Progressive website: http://www.northtexasprogressive.org.  Meifert was thrilled with the initial response. “We have had so many straight individuals reach out to us when they hear about the protest,” she said. “There was the 40-ish straight soccer mom who said Sarah Palin says nothing about her values and her life. There have been a lot of straight Jewish women who have gotten their synagogues involved. We’ve gotten response from several animal rescue groups, from Planned Parenthood and, of course, from Stonewall Democrats. It feels really good.” That’s when the homophobic hate mail and phone calls started to arrive. Dawn contacted the police, and they assigned a detective to the event for organizer protection.

I am just outraged at this show of wickenss! I not only support Sarah Palin I will fall on the sword to protect and promote her. For she is God’s woman in history! Called to this time and moment http://www.palinpac.com  that is my website and if you have not guessed I am a proverbs woman! Glory to God… Sharon Russell Precinct Chair 2501, Rowlett TX sharon.russell.2501@gmail.com

October 3 dawned cool and breezy, with wispy cloud cover. The progressive organizers met early to stake out the sidewalk across from the hotel entrance at 1717 N. Akard St. It wasn’t long before clusters of red, white and blue clad all white people began to gather next to the anti-Palin space, grim-faced, spouting fundamentalist doom and gloom, shouting “We love Sarah” and “War brings Freedom” on their megaphones. By 11am, the police had erected barricades between the two groups, as tension was palpable. Occasionally members of the pro-Palin mob attempted to shove in to mix it up with the anti-Palin protesters; the police did an excellent job of politely escorting them back to their designated sidewalk area.

I’ll be bringing all the Nazi uniforms and copies of Mein Kampf…

By the time Sarah Palin’s motorcade arrived, over 400 protesters jammed the sidewalk and climbed up to wave signs on the wall just above. Diversity? It was amazing! ACORN was out in force, African –American women, one on a walker, sporting red t-shirts and singing; Rockwall for Obama members kept welcome duty for new arrivals; Planned Parenthood “soccer moms” passed out flyers as did Democracy for America college students. Stonewall Democrats came in pairs. Members of the Dallas Peace Center lent a peaceful 60’s spirit to the gathering. An African-American entrepreneur brought a wide array of Obama t-shirts to sell. Hispanic protesters came with babies propped on one hip, waving signs in Spanish with the free hand. Grandparents came, gentle souls, resolute in their support of humane treatment for wolves; professionals on lunch hour in power suits stopped by as long as they could, ‘it’s too important to elect a qualified vice-president.” The laughter, the chanting, the spirited camaraderie presented quite a contrast to the sullen-faced, uniformly attired crew up the street. Asked how she felt as she watched our crowd swell with exuberance, Meifert replied, “My most memorable moments were people realizing I was the organizer and just instantly hugging me and thanking me for doing this. I haven’t been hugged this much since my grandmother was alive!”

“You’re afraid of a forty-four year old woman this much?
You’re kidding, aren’t ya?

Asked how effective she felt the event was, Nancy Cunningham of Code Pink of Greater Dallas commented,” It’s just sad how much anger and hostility we saw from the pro-Palin supporters. Dallas County went blue in 06 and will increasingly get more democratic. Everyone who came out was wonderful – I loved the young people coming! This was a huge event –the turnout was smaller than the Bush visit in November 06 but much larger that the small local peace events. I love it when events cross age and issue and race lines and combine the interests of many groups.” Cunningham has mounted photos and video footage of the event on:
http://www.northtexasprogressive.org/ or, http://www.codepinkdallas.net/

Sarah Palin’s SUV whizzed by our end of the street and dove into the hotel parking garage. Did she bother to look up to notice the simple sign held proudly by one protester?   “Jesus was a community organizer”.  A diverse community in support of women’s rights, free speech and democracy stood strong and proud Oct. 3 in Dallas TX. We would have warmly welcomed Jesus to stand with us.

Alexandra Bonifield
Independent progressive journalist
NEA/Annenberg Fellow in theatre criticism
1) From Dallas Voice print edition September 26, 2008
2)  E-mail received by Dawn Meifert from a Republican Party precinct chair
3)  Italicized, boldface comments were submitted on the mybarackobama event page and are run here verbatim

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