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Differing coverage of Bush’s visit

Thursday, Feb 1, 2007

I didn’t post anything about President Bush’s visit to Peoria this week because, well, I didn’t see much of an angle for the blog.

But something did catch my eye today. The president stopped in at Sterling Family Restaurant to have breakfast with some business people. Here’s how the Peoria Journal-Star originally covered it:

The president stopped at Sterling Family Restaurant, on Sterling Avenue across from Northwoods Mall, where Bush greeted people for breakfast.

The Galesburg Register-Mail filed this report:

The crowd was near silenced as the president spoke, saying things such as, “How you doing?” “Nice to meet you.” “How’s the service?” and “Sorry to disturb you,” as he made his way through the crowd.

The Tribune’s blog also noted the crowd’s reaction:

The president’s appearance at the restaurant prompted a reaction of calm curiousity. No one got up from the tables or the counter to greet him.

Two Newsweek columnists interpreted the crowd’s reaction this way:

…the president walked into the diner, where he was greeted with what can only be described as a sedate reception. No one rushed to shake his hand. There were no audible gasps or yelps of excitement that usually accompany visits like this.

Last summer, a woman nearly fainted when Bush made an unscheduled visit for some donut holes at the legendary Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant in Chicago.

In Peoria this week, many patrons found their pancakes more interesting. Except for the click of news cameras and the clang of a dish from the kitchen, the quiet was deafening.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Robbie - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 11:58 am:

    The Register Mail has done a few local pieces about Galesburgians who were at the speech at Cat. One guy was one of the 100 people who were right up front. He was a democrat but still had decent things to say about the speech. Today they do a piece about a man who had his kids draw a picture for the prez and how he was able to get Bush to sign it.

    Overall the visit didn’t seem to stir up too much emotion from my view up I-74.

  2. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 12:00 pm:


    Everyone has an angle of what happened to promote their personal political view.

    I recommmend this approach a-la-Henry James:

    “George Walker Bush made them portentous all by the play of his good faith, makes him father above all, to my vision–unless I have wholly failed to render it–concrete, immense and awful; so that we get, for our profit, and get by an economy of process interesting in itself, the thoroughly pictured creature, the striking figured symbol. At two points in particular, I seem to recognise, we enjoy at its maximum this effect of associational magic.”

  3. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 12:05 pm:

    What did Chris Matthews say?

    Probably something like, “There is an evil around the President. Like Cheney’s lust to kill, the Peorians lost their appetite. With us now to explain what happened is Michael Moore.”

  4. - 105th Blues - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 12:22 pm:

    Umm, most folks were in shock probably. I know if I was there and he walked in un-announced I’d probably stay in my seat out of fear of being tackled or arrested by the Secret Service or something. Does the Newsweek reporter think that people would leap out of their seats to approach the President? I think most folks out here have more common sense than to do something like that.

  5. - vole - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 12:33 pm:

    If they were not quiet they knew they might miss out on another mangling of English or see Bush searching under the tables for WMDs.

  6. - Michelle Flaherty - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 1:02 pm:


  7. - Archpundit - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 1:18 pm:


    Ding, ding, ding. I could well be tired or intimidated. It’s a particularly annoying habit of the press to read people’s minds. I might find the conclusion they draw fitting to my perspective, but it would nice to read what people were actually thinking. Reality is a good thing.

  8. - chief - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 1:25 pm:

    It’s interesting how the reader comments focus on the reporters’ failure to inquire rather than assume. And the reporters are supposed to be the ones who are just SO curious about what’s on peoples’ minds. Since people were sitting quietly as they studied their pancakes, asking a question or two shouldn’t have been all that hard.

  9. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 1:37 pm:

    I am continually disgusted by what is considered reporting today. There is a reason I read through a variety of sources before I figure out what is happening. I read MSNBC. I read Fox. I read NYTimes, WSJ and Slate. Today’s “reporters” required you to listen with only one ear. They are wrecking their own profession.

    I was sitting for lunch at “Three Brothers” in Homewood Illinois when G.H.W. Bush came in. At first you don’t believe what you are seeing, so you stare quietly. Then you think about what this person means to the country. Then you see all the security guys around him and recognize how important he is. Then you stare some more. The last thing you wanted to see is he mobbed by either supporters or antagonists. President Bush made it a point to walk around the restaurant and greet us. We all behaved and respected one another.

    What happened in Peoria sounds like the same thing. Normal people behave normally. To have reporters distort reactions to the President during this stop is unbelievably biased and stupid. Not reporting at all.

  10. - Jake from Elwood - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 1:53 pm:

    Perhaps the diners were consumed with their own weapons of mass digestion.

  11. - If It Walks Like a Duck... - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 2:03 pm:

    Obviously, Bush’s malarkey doesn’t “play in Peoria.”

  12. - Commonsense in Illinois - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 2:21 pm:

    Actually it sounds like typical behavior by mid-westerners. If ya want giddy, go to LA…

  13. - TomD - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 2:22 pm:

    This story says more to me about Peoria than it does about Bush’s support in the Heartland.

    Has anyone ever had a similar experience in Peoria? When you walk in a restaurant — like a Steak N Shake or Lums (once upon a time), or a Maid Rite or Avantis or Agatuccis or Hunts — and there is a pause, as several people turn to look at you with a thoroughly unfriendly gaze that lasts just a bit too long, and then they resume their hushed conversations. Its the moment when people seem to be giving the “You appear to be from another County” stare. People who woke up ready to show the world that they are serisouly hard to impress.

    Glad to see that they’re just as open and welcoming when the President visits.

  14. - Lovie's Leather - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 2:33 pm:

    I still can’t figure out why he would go to the Sterling Family joint! Been there, it is so-so. I wonder if the same illegal working in the kitchen spit in his food too….

  15. - HoosierDaddy - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 2:45 pm:

    Yep– has to work its way all the way up to the national media before they can put the “appropriate” spin on it.

  16. - yinn - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 3:28 pm:

    Then there was the one about Bush trying to run over the reporters while driving a tractor: . This is the most sensationalistic one, I think, out of several versions out there.

  17. - Matt Jones - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 3:51 pm:

    Well as perhaps the only peorian blogging let me opine. Sterling was picked about an hour in advance of arriving there, in part because of its proximity to the interstate I’d guess. The folks there, according to some people who were there, were somewhat shocked. One patron was so flustered he forgot whether he’d shaken the president’s hand (subsequent b-roll showed that he had). Second day stories by local media have been very positive about the Sterling stop. I note that “several dozen people” stood outside the mall which sits across the street from the restraunt just to see the motorcade, and there were several localized stories about families taking off from school (or home school in one case) to get a glimpse. To be sure, there were protesters who got some coverage too, but the response has been surprisingly positive. As for the poster who thinks we are rude and parochial, let me buy you dinner some time and I guarantee a friendly reception (and I don’t mean the kind you’d get at Big Al’s).

  18. - Kraig L - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 4:24 pm:

    I think he really came to Peoria to get Kitchen Cooked Potato Chips and a Gondala from Avantis… anyway, if I were President, thats why I would go to Peoria.

  19. - Mark - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 4:37 pm:

    Did you read the PJ Star article? They interviewed the people there. It was a good story and people said Bush was very down to earth and a local coach was impressed that he after talking with everone when Bush left he called him “coach”. The coach was impressed that he remembered their conversation

  20. - Reddbyrd - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 4:45 pm:

    Capt. Fax:
    You were right the first time — not much there. to talk about. PJS gushed for four straight days about Bush coming to CAT.
    Most people afraid to talk to the guy for fear he send 21,000 troops to storm the town.

  21. - Frank Booth - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 5:10 pm:

    Kraig L.
    If he wanted Kitched Cooked he’d have to drive another 30 minutes west on 116. You know that.

  22. - Beowulf - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 7:20 pm:

    My take on it would be “what would I do if Hillary, Barack, or George W. walked into a restaurant where I was eating?”

    I know that I would continue eating and make a point not to bother any of them. If they wanted my opinion on something or wanted to make small talk, they would come over to my table and let me know. My guess is that the majority of people simply wanted to give the President the courtesy of leaving him alone and not speaking unless spoken to. Whether you like the Democrats or the Republicans, I like to think that we all respect the office and thus give it the courtesy that is due it.

  23. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 7:56 pm:

    This is as it should be. We elect our representatives; they are there to work for us, we are not there to be subjects of the ruling class.

  24. - OrangeCrush - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 8:06 pm:

    That’s the Journal Star for ya… On top of things, as usual… :)

  25. - Gregor - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 8:40 pm:

    I am not a big fan of the President. I would have any number or bones to pick with the man on Domestic and Foreign policy… But the fact is, it would be a very intimidating thing to be thrust into such a photo-op appearance and I’m not sure I’d show the stones to just pop off and tell the man off, in front of cameras and reporters and secret service guys. It would be bad for my health and my job prospects, I’m sure. If I had literally nothing to lose in the world, maybe.

    As soon as I started to vent, and they caught the gist of my opinion, they’d just wisk him off anyway, then I’d have a swarm or reporters hanging off me prying and parsing me. The sidebar articles published about people who DO confront Presidents and the like always come off making the person seem like an extremist nutbar, even if they are trying to be supportive. Heck, if they attack Murtha and Durbin with such fury for opposing him, what can little Mrs. Samsa’s boy do? Net gainn to me, zero. Plus, there’s that thing about hating the man but still respecting the office, and mamma didn’t raise me to be THAT big a jerk.

    So I think there was probably a LOT of people quietly smiling but seething over their pancakes on the inside, and spending the rest of their week turning over and over in their minds just what they would have REALLY liked to tell the man.

  26. - Emily Booth - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 8:56 pm:

    When Michael Dukakis campaigned for President against the elder Bush, for some reason, he was on a Ravenswood El (the Brown Line for you non-Chicagoans) platform during morning rush hour when the cars are packed. He was tightly surrounded by media. He was so short you could hardly see him. The whole scenario was totally ignored by us rush-hour commuters.

  27. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 11:23 pm:

    In 1990 I was unexpectedly thrust into a position to be introduced one-on-one with President George H.W. Bush, #41, the original. I don’t remember if I shook his hand or if I wet my pants. It might have been both, but it was definitely one of the two.

    So when I read things like, “…prompted a reaction of calm curiousity. No one got up from the tables or the counter to greet him.”

    Or, “…what can only be described as a sedate reception. No one rushed to shake his hand. There were no audible gasps or yelps of excitement that usually accompany visits like this.” Usually, if you’re a Newsweek reporter and you cover the President on a regular basis.

    To me it sounds more like people acted normally, not too full of themselves to play a part in somebody’s national “news” story. Peorians just being Peorians.

  28. - bluedog demo - Friday, Feb 2, 07 @ 6:43 am:

    If I had bacon, eggs and hot coffee in front of me I would keep right on savoring such delicious fare. That is if my stomach didn’t become upset at the sight !

  29. - Shelbyville - Saturday, Feb 3, 07 @ 1:26 pm:

    If you want to see a crowd react, walk into a restaurant with Goerge Ryan. To this day, he gets the biggest positive reaction from Chicagoans. No one ever has a bad word to say - well, rarely. There is always an idiot, somewhere.

    What are people expected to do, if Bush walks in? Just try running towards him.

  30. - dvmx - Saturday, Feb 3, 07 @ 9:44 pm:

    !. Cold curiosity
    2. Fear of being tackled by Secret Service incase of sudden movement.
    3. Struggling to subdue the impulse to say something really angry.

    A couple weeks ago I heard Rumsfeld was seen in our local Trader Joe’s. One man couldn’t contain himself and yelled at him “How can you sleep at night after all you’ve done?” (Rumsfeld responded that he sleeps perfectly fine)

  31. - Anon - Wednesday, Feb 7, 07 @ 2:51 pm:

    No matter which piece you read, you don’t get a sense of “We love our pres.” from ‘em

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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