WASHINGTON, DC—In an emblematic move intended to stand in for the official symbolic reprimand of the president, a vehemently well-mannered mob of demonstrators censured an effigy of George W. Bush Tuesday, making known its displeasure over such actions as illegal wiretapping and the politically motivated firing of federal lawyers.
Armed with neatly lettered signs, and umbrellas in the event of rain, the group milled about the Capitol for several hours, chanting the anti-Bush slogans "Bush Must Go Through The Same Channels As Any Other President to Take Military Action—That Actually Falls Under Congress' Purview" and "Down With The Idea Of Executive Privilege, Both In General And As It Relates To Bush" before performing the mock censure.
Although some members of the crowd initially incited a metaphorical impeachment of the president, a majority felt that would be far too harsh a symbolic action to take. After agreeing on the censure, the decorous riffraff whipped themselves into a relative frenzy and clamored single file to the National Mall with the meticulously crafted Bush effigy.
"Things really got out of hand after we drafted and considered the resolution and then presented it to the mock House Judiciary Committee," participant Patrick Firth said about the mob's public representation of a procedure that neither directly affects the presidency nor carries any particular legal consequences. "After we finally adopted the motion to proceed, there was no turning back. I felt like I was watching someone else edit and redraft the approved measure."
The Bush effigy, a surprisingly accurate likeness outfitted in a blue suit and red power tie, was originally to be taken to the steps of the Capitol Building for the censure proceedings. The mob turned back, however, when one among the rabble called a point of order and explained that the president would not be present if Congress were actually to pass censure. The crowd then unanimously moved to postpone its mock Senate vote until a detailed facsimile of the Oval Office could be constructed on the lawn of the Mall and the effigy placed inside it.
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Censure then appeared inevitable, until a faction of the horde brandished effigies of Republican senators and mounted a filibuster.
"It was a scary couple hours," said demonstrator Harold Lemarche, who helped beat back the stonewalling tactic after a long but orderly debate. "There was even some talk of abandoning Robert's Rules of Order. It's a good thing the mock senators were able to muster the three-fifths majority vote required to defeat the filibuster, or this thing could have gotten real ugly, real fast."
When the measure finally passed, the news was officially delivered to the effigy and a large banner reading "CENSURED!" was hung above it. This was followed by several minutes of silent pointing and glaring before the crowd slowly dispersed.
Democratic leaders were quick to distance themselves from the subdued riot out of fear that condoning even a meta-symbolic political rebuke would alienate some of their more mild-mannered constituents.
"We understand that many Americans are frustrated with the current administration, but that doesn't mean they should be staging a constitutionally mandated political procedure on the streets of our nation's capital," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. "We urge you, please do not take the letter of the law into your own hands. Instead, write firm but polite correspondence to your congressional representatives."
Top Republicans loudly denounced the censure.
"This is exactly the kind of vicious, unbridled, restrained indignation we can expect if Democrats stay in power," Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott said. "Where will this behavior end—a mock no-confidence vote against the surgeon general?"
According to witnesses, police were present at the scene of the figurative censure but were powerless to stop the mob, as all of the paperwork required to stage the demonstration had been filed weeks earlier.