Compare/Contrast: TOTUS in Ghana – Big Dawg and GW in Ghana…

In 1998 United States president Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton made a six-nation tour of Africa, the most extensive visit to Africa ever undertaken by a sitting U.S. president. At his first stop, in Ghana, Clinton was greeted by a crowd hundreds of thousands strong. Here, draped in a traditional Ghanaian kente cloth, President Clinton, center, waves to the crowd, accompanied by the first lady, far right, and Ghanaian president Jerry Rawlings left.

In 1998 United States president Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton made a six-nation tour of Africa, the most extensive visit to Africa ever undertaken by a sitting U.S. president. At his first stop, in Ghana, Clinton was greeted by a crowd hundreds of thousands strong. Here, draped in a traditional Ghanaian kente cloth, President Clinton, center, waves to the crowd, accompanied by the first lady, far right, and Ghanaian president Jerry Rawlings left.

When Big Dawg and GW Bush went to Ghana they spoke to tens of thousands of the people, directly, as they gathered in the square. In the case of Big Dawg’s visit there was panic over a stampede, and Big Dawg literally saved a woman from being crushed by pulling her up. His hands were so scratched his staff and Secret Service were terrified for him. Crowds were wild about Bill and wild about GW Bush also. Both these presidents did a tremendous amount for Africa and the people knew they cared.

February 20, 2008 – President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush greet Ghanaian tribal chiefs and members of tribes, in Accra, Ghana. President Bush met with 30 tribal chiefs during his visit to the International Trade Fair Center. (White House photo by Shealah Craighead.)

February 20, 2008 – President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush greet Ghanaian tribal chiefs and members of tribes, in Accra, Ghana. President Bush met with 30 tribal chiefs during his visit to the International Trade Fair Center. (White House photo by Shealah Craighead.)

Click the link to view he embedded video of the Big Dawg visit at Politico, here is the write up by Gerstein:

It might seem like a moment just too good for the White House to pass up – America’s first black president, on his first trip to sub-Saharan Africa, looking out over a sea of jubilant faces, delivering a message of friendship and hope.

Yet President Barack Obama, who would command a monumental audience nearly anywhere he spoke on the continent where he traces his ancestry, is not scheduled to deliver a speech to the general public when he visits Ghana next week.

The White House said it preferred a smaller event at Ghana’s parliament to herald the nation’s democratic traditions. But some suspect the reason has its roots in an event that holds a storied place in White House lore – President Bill Clinton’s 1998 speech to a massive crowd in the sweltering heat of Accra, Ghana, where Obama will visit as well.

For Clinton, the first stop on a 12-day, six-country African journey was a chance to bask in the adulation far from Washington (MiM here-yada yada Monica).

Whatever the number, the overheated, overcrowded, overwhelming event left some in Clinton’s party worried that he’d been shot, and a doctor concerned that he could contract HIV from frantic interaction with the crowd. And it took a threatening turn at the end, as a red-faced, shouting Clinton implored the crowd, “Get back! Back off!” as it threatened to crush a woman near the front of the stage.

“The crowd was so large that it began surging towards the stage. Suddenly, a woman in the front of the crowd began to get trampled,” recalled Sandy Berger, Clinton’s national security

adviser at the time. “Clinton jumped up and put his arm down over the side and grabbed her. The Secret Service thought he’d been shot and freaked out.”

“He saved her life,” Berger said. “It was a kind of tumultuous scene.”

Clinton’s White House physician Dr. Connie Mariano said she started out that day worried about the heat, but wound up concerned about HIV.

“It was steamy, and hot, and miserable,” Mariano recalled. “[Ghana’s president General Jerry] Rawlings put a ceremonial robe over [Clinton’s] dark business suit and I thought, ‘Oh my God, he’s going to pass out,’” she said.

Mariano said the feverish crowd and the scuffle over people being crushed at the front left the president nicked up.

“He got scratches. His hands were cut because people’s nails were scratching him because they wanted to hold him,” she said. “Realize how many HIV-positive people there were there. … It was an extremely frightening experience.”

As the crowd surged forward, police wielding rubber truncheons slammed them down on the hands of people holding onto the barricades. The front-line people would jump back, only to be pushed forward, grab the barricades, and have their hands whacked again. Reporters offering bottled water to parched Ghanaians nearly triggered a stampede.

“I just remember the mass of flesh. There was like a gazillion people, more than I had ever seen in my life,” said Ann Scales, who covered the event for The Boston Globe.

We have seen quite a lot of footage of TOTUS travels abroad, and tens of thousands amassed in Berlin to see him. But for some reason when he went to Ghana the crowds were small and he was behind bullet proof barriers and did not address the massive crowds that Big Dawg and GW spoke to.

So as the American media proudly proclaims this a historic visit, (and in the sense that our previous Presidents who went there were not of African descent this is so), let’s take a moment and give a shout out to GW Bush and the Big Dawg who went to see the people (not to be seen and drop off a big check).

AP of all places!:

Title, get it before they reconsider it, lol:

Only small crowds greet Obama during Ghana visit

The lucky ones saw him waving from behind the bulletproof glass of his passing vehicle for a few fleeting seconds. The others, like the rest of the world, just watched President Barack Obama‘s visit on TV.Despite the huge excitement and anticipation surrounding Obama’s first trip to sub-Saharan Africa as president, only relatively small crowds came out to meet him in Ghana‘s capital. The absence of any big public event outdoors, heavy security that blocked roads, and uncertainty over which routes Obama might take combined to keep large crowds away.

It also left many disappointed they never got a chance to see him.

“I came all the way here to see Obama, but I can’t see him,” said 35-year-old Kodjo Seddoh, a native of Togo who traveled by bus to Ghana especially for the event. “It’s been a disappointment,” he said, as he and a few hundred other people watched Obama pass in a black limousine en route to Ghana’s presidential palace. “Nobody has seen him except on TV.”

Many had hoped Obama would speak at an outdoor arena called Independence Square. But his main speech was delivered indoors at a nearby conference center because of fears over rain as well as fears it could cause a celebratory stampede, as a 1998 stop by President Bill Clinton nearly did. Then, a surging crowd toppled barricades at Independence Square after Clinton’s speech, prompting him to shout, “Back up! Back up!”, his Secret Service detail clearly frantic.

When former President George W. Bush visited Accra last year, he also spoke to tens of thousands gathered at Independence Square.

Still, Ghanaians were overwhelmingly happy Obama had come to town. Obama’s father is Kenyan, and so he is seen as a native son of Africa who ascended to the most powerful job in the world.

“It makes us proud of Ghana,” said Richard Kwasi-Yeboah, a 49-year-old selling posters of the American president. “We’re proud he chose us. It proves that Ghana is really free.” While only a few hundred people could get close to Obama’s convoy as it headed toward the presidency, thousands lined roadsides outside a hospital he visited later in the day.

Crowds were kept off the road behind blue ropes by ubiquitous policemen dressed in black. Obama’s convoy passed, led by a triangle of white Ghanaian state motorcycles and a helicopter circling overhead. As it did so, the crowds went briefly wild, waving American flags, smiling and cheering. As soon as Obama was gone, the blue ropes came down and the everybody immediately dispersed.

Asked about the small turnout, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the “president wanted to use this visit to shine a light on Ghana and on what it is doing so successfully rather than on him.”

MiM here, that would be a first wouldnt it? BWAAAHAAA!!

Some said it too difficult to go out with police blocking roads with orange barricades and ordering people on foot to take alternative routes. So many just stayed home instead to watch the visit on TV. “Some people are upset they didn’t get to see him, but everybody’s happy he’s here. I’m happy,” said Djan Martin, 58. “The important thing is he came.”

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July 12, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , . Politics.

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