Thursday, August 31, 2006

SLC Mayor Rocky Anderson: A Righteous Dude in a Wrong State

In addition to the love we're feeling for MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who flayed Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on Wednesday night's Countdown -- for Rumsfeld's downright un-American comments in a speech Monday -- we also need to appreciate Salt Lake City Mayor Ross "Rocky" Anderson's visceral take on President Bush, who is visiting Utah today.

"Blind faith in bad leaders is not patriotism. A patriot is a person who loves his or her country," said Anderson, during a fiery speech in Salt Lake City's Washington Square on Wednesday. "A patriot does not tell people who are intensely concerned about their country to just sit down and be quiet; to refrain from speaking out in the name of politeness or for the sake of being a good host; to show slavish, blind obedience and deference to a dishonest, war-mongering, human-rights-violating president."

Wow. And this guy is the Mayor of the biggest city in… Utah?

This is the state that gave George W. Bush 67 percent of its vote in 2000 and a whopping 72 percent in 2004, after Bush's many lies and acts of incompetence were public knowledge. Utah is also the state that continues to give Bush decent approval numbers -- the highest of all 50 states -- and, the Utah stats on Bush for this month have the worst president in American history at a 59 percent approval rating.

And this beacon of reality, Anderson, is the liberal Mayor of the Capital of a state that I nicknamed Utahistan, when it began banning Brokeback Mountain from movie theaters in early 2006.


Here's more from Anderson's speech:
In response to those who believe we should blindly support this disastrous president, his administration, and the complacent, complicit Congress, listen to the words of Theodore Roosevelt, a great president and a Republican, who said: "The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

Our nation's reputation throughout much of the world has been destroyed. We have many more enemies bent on our destruction than before our invasion of Iraq. And the hatred toward us has grown to the point that it will take many years, perhaps generations, to overcome the loathing created by our invasion and occupation of a Muslim country.

Our children and later generations will pay the price of the lies, the violence, the cruelty, the incompetence, and the inhumanity of the Bush administration and the lackey Congress that has so cowardly abrogated its responsibility and authority under our checks-and-balances system of government.

The truth has been established. Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks on the United States. There is no evidence of any operational ties between Iraq and al Qaeda. And there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. What a tragedy, leading to greater tragedy. We are fed lie after lie, our media reinforces those lies, and we are a nation led to a tragic, illegal, unprovoked war.

We are here because of our values. We love our country. We cherish the freedoms and liberties of our country. We don't call those who speak out against our nation's leaders unpatriotic or un-American or appeasers of fascists. We have good, wholesome family values. In our families, we teach honesty, we teach kindness and compassion toward others, we teach that violence, if ever justified, must be an absolutely last resort. In our families, we teach that our nation's constitutional values are to be upheld, and that they are worth standing up and fighting for.
You can read the full text of Anderson's speech here and listen to a short interview with him here.

It should be noted that, while Salt Lake City has a non-partisan Mayor's office, Anderson is a Democrat and a liberal Democrat at that. And Utah Republicans have wasted no time going after him, urging people to call his office to complain about his stance against Bush and the war and being an "embarrassment" to Utah -- and overwhelming the telephone lines at City Hall in the process.

Anderson's take on that?

"Given the nastiness of some of these people, it actually just bolsters my resolve," said the Mayor, who once said that the "real embarrassment" is Utahans' ongoing support of Bush.

And Anderson has a message for the Veterans gathered to hear Bush's speech to the American Legion National Convention in Salt Lake City today.

"We cannot confused opposition to our political leaders -- political leaders who have chosen to put our servicemen and servicewomen in harm's way -- we can't confuse that opposition, which is so healthy to our democracy, with the question of support for our troops," said Anderson. "Because we all support our troops. We're all so very grateful to our Veterans, who have given so much to fight and preserve our freedoms. That's what I would tell them. I would tell them 'Thank you.'"

While it's too late to go after Republican Orrin Hatch this year, maybe Anderson, who is not running for another term as Salt Lake City's mayor, would consider going after Robert Bennett's Senate seat in a few years when it's up for grabs again.

Now that would be something to see.