Among the thousands of “tea party” protesters that gathered Thursday at Freedom Plaza, a stone’s throw from the White House, were dozens of signs directed at President Obama, some demanding “Listen To Me!” others asking “Why Can’t You Hear Us?”
But the president never heard a peep from the mob of boisterous Americans, most of whom deplore the spending binge he and the Democratic Congress have been on of late. He headed to Florida to praise $6 billion in spending for NASA, just about the time the first speaker was taking the stage in the square, which Mr. Obama can see from his back porch.
The president was scheduled to return to the White House in the dark, after another planned protest, this one by the Washington Monument, had ended.
Chuck Douty, a resident of Maryland who was holding the “Why Can’t You Hear Us?” sign, didn’t know Mr. Obama was not in town.
“Huh,” he said when told. “That’s not surprising.”
Meanwhile, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. also left town before the protest began, heading to Bethlehem, Pa., to celebrate a $6 million grant of taxpayer money to a technology company as part of the Recovery Act.
But back on the president’s side yard, upward of 5,000 protesters gathered to object to what they believe is a government run amok. The protest was peaceful and polite, with people carrying hundred of signs, many of them quite creative.
One featured a stack of money with googly eyes - just like the one in GEICO insurance TV commercials - and said, “This is the money you could’ve saved if you hadn’t voted for Obama.”
Another said: “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying taxes.”
Other signs were a bit cruel.
“Having government manage your health care is like having Michael Vick watch your dog,” said one sign, referring to the NFL quarterback convicted on charges of holding illegal dog fights.
“Harry Reid Needs a Good Waterboarding,” said another, referring to the Senate Democratic leader. “Perp Walk Pelosi,” said a third, implying that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was a criminal.
Dismissed by some in the mainstream media as “birthers” who don’t believe Mr. Obama was born in Hawaii, another sign fed right into that stereotype.
“One Rotten Kenyan Spoiled the Whole Bunch of Democrats,” it said.