Pro-Bush Prof Argues Address Arranged by Political Director Rove 'Not a Political Event'...
By Brad Friedman on 5/18/2005, 5:50pm PT  

According to the Grand Rapids Press, nearly 1000 students and professors from the conservative Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI are taking out a full-page ad to protest George W. Bush's commencement address appearance this Saturday.

The speaking engagement was requested and arranged by Bush's top political advisor Karl Rove who, according to NEWSWEEK, informed a College employee at a "Presidential" event back in March that "Bush was hoping to deliver a graduation speech in Michigan this year and asked if Calvin College, a small Christian school in Grand Rapids, might be a willing venue."

Ironically enough, The Press quotes the chair of the college's communcation arts and science department who gave his approval for the event as accusing the objecting students and professors of turning the appearance into a "political event."

The fact that the appearance was arranged by Bush's top political advisor, who was specifically looking for a venue in swing-state Michigan for Bush to speak at is apparently to be ignored.

Yesterday's Press described tomorrow's stinging full-page ad:

In a full-page advertisement that will run in The Press on Friday and a half-page ad to appear Saturday, Calvin students, staff and alumni voice their disappointment with Bush's graduation stop.

"By their deeds ye shall know them," reads the paid advertisement, quoting the Bible. "Your deeds, Mr. President --- neglecting the needy to coddle the rich, desecrating the environment, and misleading the country into war --- do not exemplify the faith we live by.

"Moreover, many of your supporters are using religion as a weapon to divide our nation and advance a narrow partisan agenda. ...We urge you not to use Calvin College as a platform to advance policies that violate the school's religious principles."

More than 750 alumni, students and staff have signed Friday's advertisement, while about 100 of Calvin's 300 faculty members put their names on the Saturday ad.

And in reply, The Press quotes the professor who defends the Bush appearance...

Calvin communication arts and sciences department chair Randall Bytwerk says Bush and his speechwriters know better than to turn a ceremony of occasion into a partisan political event. Bytwerk reviewed Bush's prior commencement talks and said none took a political tone.

He finds it unfortunate some staff have chosen to bring political tensions into play.

"They say they welcome his visit and promoting dialogue, but the way to do that is not to announce everything a person is doing wrong," Bytwerk said. "This brouhaha makes a political event out of what was not a political event.

While Bytwerk may like to believe that this weekend's political event "was not a political event", a report in this week's NEWSWEEK on Rove's political "thank you" tour would seem to suggest otherwise...

At a GOP fund-raiser last March, Michigan Rep. Vernon Ehlers was waiting for his turn to take a photo with President Bush when he felt a tap on his shoulder. It was Karl Rove, White House deputy chief of staff and Bush's top political adviser. According to Ehlers, Rove told him Bush was hoping to deliver a graduation speech in Michigan this year and asked if Calvin College, a small Christian school in Grand Rapids, might be a willing venue.
...
Why Michigan? White House officials insist politics didn't play a role in sending Bush back to a state he narrowly lost in 2004. Yet Saturday will mark Bush's third visit to the Wolverine State this year. Less than six months into his second term, Bush has paid multiple visits to the hard-fought states of 2004—and he's not the only one. Since March, Rove has been out headlining fund-raisers and county GOP dinners in battleground states like Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin. Administration officials describe Rove's travels as a post-election "thank you" tour to reward Bush's supporters. But others say it's an attempt to shore up the GOP base and stoke enthusiasm for Bush's agenda as the 2006 midterm elections approach.

Nope. It's not a political event at all. And the "Clear Skies Initiative" will clear the air. And "No Child Left Behind" won't leave any children behind. And when the "Mission Accomplished" banner goes up, the mission will have been completely accomplished.

George W. Bush's Bizzarro World continues. We just have to live in it.

Yet even the good conservative Calvinist Christians of Grand Rapids are beginning to understand what an embarrassing figure this country currently has occupying the White House and misrepresenting our country to the world.

UPDATE: A number of Calvin students have set up a Google discussion forum called "Our Commencement Is Not Your Platform", described as "A place to dialogue and organize for those opposed to George W. Bush commandeering Calvin's 2005 Commencement."