Reportage from Trent Franks’ Kingman Rally

The Non-Believer

I searched for two weeks for the question, the magic question, the one to make Trent Franks break character. That’s all we liberals really want in some cases, for the politicians we claim we’re skewering to flinch, maybe to, at least briefly, show that chink in the armor and hope that some one gets it.

I practiced my question in the air, to my dogs, at my wife and on the phone with people. I tossed in bed with it in my mind till I wrote it in my journal, then made sure I arrived at the Assembly of God in Kingman, AZ on Saturday, August 22nd, 2009, one hour and forty-five minutes early (as the manual advises—that is the right-wingers’ disruptors handbook as written by Astroturf experts to disrupt, divide and deflect news coverage of townhall meetings when Democrat Congressmen came home for August break, those overweeningly upright fake Patriots, actual big pharma lobbyists, Dick Armey’s Freedom Works).

Once inside, I meticulously hand copied my question onto the required form for the nice local lady from the Republican Women’s group and then had her double-check to make sure it was legible.

Then, as the sprinkling picked up to a drizzling, I went back to the corner of Gates and Stockton Hill Road, the access most would take to Trent Franks’ “Come to Jesus and Learn to Hate Healthcare” Meeting and I set up my protest. Before long the rain blew so hard it melted some people’s signs and streamed from the bill of my “Impeach Bush” ball cap. I stood with a war hero, two mothers and their teen children. And it rained.

We didn’t plan anything and nobody told us what to do. We were there, each because we believed the tone of the healthcare rallies around America where right-wing disruptors had destroyed discussions was the wrong tone for a thinking headed political opposition–because we hoped quietly convey our messages to the stream of cars that filled the church parking lot. We too wanted our voices heard.

My signs, a repeat, “Insure Domestic Tranquility … Promote the General Welfare …,” “These Are the Real American Values” and a new one, “Why Does the GOP Keep Selling Us Fear, Greed, & Hate?” blew in the occasionally gushing winds, but not so much even the gray haired were unable to read them well enough to flash me a feeble finger.

Meanwhile as the rain poured, I practiced my question.

I’d poured over Frank’s voting record as detailed at Vote Smart, a website Franks somehow failed to recommend when he was asked about a good place to check that record in his Saturday afternoon church revival, occasionally billed as a townhall meeting. Franks also couldn’t mention another less complete but well regarded source for congressional info used by millions across America. Franks’ lack of answer on that question was telling. That question had come from one of his fans, not me. My question was this:

“Mr. Franks, you are part of the same crowd who sold us the George Bush Administration with its WMD deception that led to the deaths of over a million people, that sold us tax cuts which created massive deficits, which have crippled our economy, which sold us the stripping of American liberties in the name of security. As a millionaire you have worked very hard to help the wealthy at the expense of the many, and that appears to be what you are doing now. When our healthcare system is the most expensive in the world with worst record among developed countries for actually helping the sick and the poor, here you are feverously working to spend more on weapons, but not on saving lives. My question for you is this: with such a long and distinguished record of doing what is wrong for America, why should we trust you now?”

As duly reported in the Mohave Valley Daily News, for the most part I was drowned out by booing shortly after the WMD deception clause. To their credit both Rep. Franks and the reporter from the Kingman Daily Miner did their best to follow me through the yelling. Here’s what KDM’s Suzanne Adams thought I asked, “Rep. Franks, you’re part of the same group that during the Bush administration sold us on weapons of mass destruction, tax cuts that led to massive debts and the stripping of American liberties in the name of so called security. Right now we have a health industry that works against taking care of its citizens and you’re working to maintain that status quo. Why should we trust you now?”

Which is accurate enough for me. I couldn’t even hear my own speaking. One of the nice Republican ladies, the one who had seen to it that I got a turn with a question after watching me hold my hand up for about 30 minutes, suddenly, and understandably, turned fire-eyed, somewhere around the line about tax cuts and deficits; and she leaned into me so fast that I pulled back a bit. “You’ve got one minute,” she whispered just above a hiss.

With that kind of noise and hatred around you, a minute is a very long time. I don’t think I lasted twenty seconds.

This was after we’d already witnessed the “good citizens” of Kingman amble on for paragraphs about the prestige of their own backgrounds, the glories of their faith in Mr. Franks and Jesus, or the umpteen ways they, personally more than anyone else in the whole world knows Obama has no birth certificate. But as if a dream came true, I actually got my question asked. At least this one part of America worked this one time like they teach us to believe in schools.

And, for an instant Franks flinched. But, it turned out his answer was better still.

(Next, PART 2: Rev. “Right’s” Hell House: the 33 Minute Hate)

Mikel Weisser teaches social studies and poetry on the left coast of Arizona. He can be reached at Read other articles by Mikel.

8 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Scott Busfield said on August 26th, 2009 at 5:06pm #

    And Part 2 comes when? You wouldn’t write have a career writing for television would you? Oh wait, what am I saying – when’s the last time any season cliff hanger carried such suspense?

  2. mikel weisser said on August 26th, 2009 at 6:01pm #

    One of the great things about posting with Dissident Voice is all the great writers my work gets to keep company with. There’s lots of great writers and even more of us out here trying. DV posting only 5 pieces a day means they don’t always take my stuff, so it’s more rewarding when they do. It’s not quite like getting paid, but it’s pretty good. I sent in Part 2 last night (like 2am) to Dissident Voice and OpEdNews, hoping for a wider readership; but just in case the big guys don’t go for it, here’s my blog:

    and here’s the paper i write for:

  3. Annie Ladysmith said on August 26th, 2009 at 7:49pm #

    Dear Mikel, this is how free speech should work, and it did because, despite the odds, you got your question out without being stoned or stomped to death. It really dosn’t matter what the question was about, what matters is that you got to ask it. Unfortunately, tunnel-vision and hysteria affects both sides of the polical divide. And, lets face it, neither you or Mr. Franks

  4. Annie Ladysmith said on August 26th, 2009 at 7:52pm #

    will change one step on the road we’re heading down.

  5. mikel weisser said on August 26th, 2009 at 10:10pm #

    Well, i’m not ready to face that. If nothing else, i make a clear trail of where i stood in this time of tragedy.

  6. mary said on August 26th, 2009 at 11:25pm #

    You’re a brave man Mr Weisser facing up to that crowd especially the crazy Republican ladies. I stand with you and can only wait 33 Minutes* for the next instalment!

    *I looked at the trailer – vile stuff from the mad men. Killing is all they know and desire especially those of a different skin colour and religion.

  7. Darrin said on August 27th, 2009 at 8:39am #

    Funny, some people who protest are called “dissidents” and others who do the same but for the other point of view are called “disruptors”.

    One group denigrates the other’s publishing (in print form) of information how/what is done in public protests on its own publication (a web site).

    Hello, Kettle? This is Pot. Just wanted you to know that you’re black.

    I have no expectation that this example of free speech will be approved for your comments section or allowed to remain there instead of being deleted, but I would commend you if it did for not being overtly hypocritical.

  8. Dean Edwardsen said on August 27th, 2009 at 5:18pm #

    If anyone gets a chance ask Franks where he graduated from high school. I can find no record of his schooling except that he mentions attending Ottawa College but I wonder if it was any more than a finger painting class.