So the second presidential debate is over, and we've learned that George Bush can talk very loudly. We also found out that he still thinks he hasn't made any mistakes, and he apparently isn't aware of what is on his tax forms. I found his body language to be very thuggish, his tone alternating between whiny and freaky shouting.
But something else I heard today bothered me much more. On NPR's Morning Edition, a story about "Campaign Security Screening Crowds for Doubters" describes how George Bush's campaign staff has required loyalty oaths of anyone who wants to attend rallies, kicks out anyone who has any connections with the Kerry campaign or anti-Bush organizations, and threatens arrest for anyone who dares to consider voting for anyone other than George Bush. This is rather thuggish behavior, though of course President Bush has the right to control who attends his campaign rallies, as foolish as it may seem. Oops, it seems that our president has confused campaign stops with "official Presidential trips." According to Nina Totenberg, federal laws prohibit denying access to public presentations by elected officials on the basis of political affiliation. So our President's staff has been breaking the law, it seems to this non-lawyer blogger.
Even if these actions are legal, they go against the principles of free speech and government accountability that are the hallmarks of the United States. With the Patriot Act eroding our civil rights, habeas corpus being tossed on its ear, and this current behavior shows the lack of respect President Bush has for the trappings of democracy.