The Other Rally
Samuel Hayim Brody

I was starting to feel twinges of guilt about not going to D.C. Actually, it might be more accurate to refer to them as "pangs." History was being made! The American people were rising up, and I wasn't there to see it! I was ready to turn around.

Then I saw Gale Norton. She had walked onstage during the intermission, and when I first laid eyes on her, she was sitting next to Virginia Governor Mark Warner, smiling like she was having the best time in the world. What a smile. From a hundred feet away I thought I detected a pinch at its edges, a sort of humoring quality, as if to say "Isn't this cute," or perhaps "I can't wait until I get out of here so I can get back to giving away public land to timber companies and ignoring various Native American tribal bids for federal recognition." I decided to stay put.

The setting was the Commencement of the National Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commemoration, held outdoors at Monticello, celebrated home and slave camp of Thomas Jefferson, on the same day tens (or hundreds) of thousands of anti-war activists were gathering in Washington. Kicking off a series of commemorations that will stretch over the next three years, the Commencement promised to be a pageant of pomp and circumstance dedicated to saluting the triumph of the American Spirit (you know, whatever that is; no one talked about what the American Spirit had triumphed over -- Native Americans, unspoiled wilderness, etc.). A quick glance at the program when I walked in, and I knew I was in for a dreadful time: The Lewis & Clark Fife and Drum Corps, from St. Charles, Missouri, were scheduled to play no fewer than three times throughout the event. Speakers were listed as giving, in order, "Greetings," "Remarks," "Introduction," "Address," and "Closing Remarks." I gritted my teeth. It was really, really cold on top of that mountain.

Flash back a few days: I had just gotten back to college (I go to the University of Virginia, the founding of which was one of the three accomplishments Thomas Jefferson desired to have listed on his tombstone), and my friend Nicholas had sent me an email asking me what I wanted to do about Gale Norton. This was somewhat embarrassing. To tell the truth, I had not thought much about Gale Norton since she had been confirmed as Bush's Secretary of the Interior. All I could really remembered about her was that at the time of her nomination for the Cabinet-level position, I had been deluged with emails begging, pleading, cajoling me to call my Congressional representatives and to tell them not to confirm her. For the life of me, I couldn't remember what exactly she'd done wrong, but as my bias is towards not giving people in Cabinet-level positions the benefit of the doubt, I told Nicholas I would help out in whatever anti-Norton enterprise he was trying to get going. I looked her up on the Internet only after I had made this commitment. Wow. Let me tell you, you should look up Gale Norton on the Internet sometime.

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Image from the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Commencement:
Lisa Florkowski, The Cavalier Daily

February 2003

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