Saturday, September 24, 2005

Today's Anti-War Protest In Washington D.C.: How Many? & Does That Really Matter?

Calculating how many protesters marched in the Washington D.C. anti-war demonstratiion today does not appear to be a simple matter.

Associated Press, whose article appears on the FoxNews, and CNN web pages state that,
"Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, noting that organizers had hoped to draw 100,000 people, said, 'I think they probably hit that.'"
The Washington Post, on the other hand, estimated even more:
Police (estimated) the count to about 150,000.
The organizers themselves are quoted in the Washington Post:
Protest organizers estimated a crowd of about 200,000 rallied at the Ellipse, then marched around the White House and along Pennsylvania Avenue

Al Jazeera, on the other hand had this to say:
Bill Hackwell, a spokesman for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) the coalition that organised the march along with another advocacy group, United for Peace and Justice....estimated that 100,000 people attended the demonstration, though that number could not be independently verified.
Reuters stated that:
More than 100,000 protesters flooded Washington on Saturday.
This, in spite of the fact that Al Jazeera (see above) had previously quoted Reuters as follows:
Reuters reported that police on the scene put the figure at roughly
USA Today simply said "thousands" but did add:
Organizers estimated that 100,000 people turned out for the demonstration, but police at the scene put the number much lower, from 10,000 to 20,000.
From bloggers who attended we have

-Kris, of Reflections of a Libertarian Republican, who seems to agree with the 100,000 figure and does not hesitate to describe
....the massive scale of the rally....
-Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit quotes emailer Brandon Marx as saying:
100,000? On C-Span I'm seeing a couple thousand tops.
-Michelle Malkin, who has posted many photos she took at the rally, does not even attempt to give an estimate (this might indicate that there were more people there than she would like to admit).

My, oh My! What are we to make of this? I guess that we can safely say that somewhere between 10,000-200,000 anti-war, anti-lotsofotherstuff demonstrators demonstrated in Washington D.C. today.

My take on it is this: Forget the numbers. Liberals tried to mock and deride the so-called "Million Man March" by claiming that fewer than 1 million people actually showed up. This is another example of being "on stupid."

Conservatives should not waste everyone's time on the number's debate but focus on the obvious facts:

1. Lots and lots and lots of people showed up in D.C. today to publically express their opposition to our nation's involvement in Iraq and to roundlyt criticize President Bush for his policy decisions. The anti-thisandthat may not have been as focussed on these matters as the organizers might have hoped, but those two criticisms were the clear intent of the rally.

2. Not too many people came out for the "counter-demonstration." This in and of itself does not mean much. After all, USA Today reports that people were standing 12-deep during today's parade in Oceanside, California, to welcome back 11,000 Marines in the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force based at nearby Camp Pendleton.

3. While the protests today (not surprisingly) offered more heat than light on the subjects of the demonstration, they did indicate a genuine movement afoot. Whether this movement is derided as simply being nothing more of the "usual suspects" or not will not really matter either. As long as there is a national perception of a gathering groundswell of American opposition to the Iraqi War, it will not really matter what was said, who said it or even how many people actually were there.

4. Today's demonstration in Washington D.C. did, in fact, project an image that will most certainly be perceived as a gathering groundswell of American opposition to the Iraqi War.

5. Today's demonstration will most certainly signal the green light for further national and international demonstrations of this kind.

6. This will have the effect of strengthening the resolve of those following the (sometimes symbolic) leadership of Al Qaeda internationally and with Zarqawi in Iraq more particularly.

7. It will also weaken the national and international perception of the Republican Party's political strength in both the White House and in Congress.

I believe that the political strength of the Republican Party is not, in reality, seriously threatened by the anti-war movers and shakers. The Republican Base in the United States is not based on emotion (as is the Democratic Base) but on principles, and not simply on one policy matter (such as the Iraqi War) alone.

It is ironic that this demonstration comes at the very moment that the people of Afghanistan and Iraq are poised to take some of the most significant steps towards self-government, independence and genuine freedom in their respective histories.

One can only wonder what effect today's demonstration might have on those who will be voting in those two places.

I can only wonder whether those protesting today are actually hoping that the American & Coalition efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan will fall apart and descend into chaos?

I fear that the answer to this must unfortunately be "Yes." At least among those who have planned and organized the event.

Unlike a similar time in our nation's history, when the anti-war movement helped to destroy two presidents (LBJ & Nixon) and undercut whatever success had been achieved in the war against communist agression in Vietnam, we have a President who will not be swayed by the chantings and slogans of a crowd, no matter how large it may appear to be.

We shall soon see whether Republican politicians in Washington will stand by President Bush or start to waffle and hedge their bets.

I can almost guarantee that those who stand their ground will be reelected and those who waffle will be swept aside in the coming bi-elections next year.

Just as they did in the last election cycle I believe that the American people, while not enthusiastic about the American sacrifices in Iraq & Afganistan, will continue to see these, and other policies and far better than any alternatives that the Democrats are likely to offer.

Americans know that we have come a very long way and have accomplished a great deal in a very short time in the Middle East. They will not want to abandon such an important venture when the third lap of the mile race is almost completed.

It is, of course, in my political opinion, a race worth finishing.

....No matter how many people showed up in Washington D.C. today.

Update: BBC demonstrates the difficulty in estimating crowd size with this little gem concerning the parallel anti-war demonstration in London today:

British police said around 10,000 people took to the streets in London, although organisers put the figure at nearer 100,000