It’s hard to explain what exactly happened during the Truckers for the Constitution Beltway protest on Friday since, as far as I can tell, the organizers themselves didn’t have such a great handle on what the heck was going on. Over the course of reporting on this story, your correspondent has heard — from various purportedly credible sources — all of the following:
At 5 a.m. on Friday morning, there were 4 (four) trucks at the appointed meeting place in Doswell, Va.; the entire truckers v. Washington protest narrative was a hoax; sober-minded folk should book it back to bed to ruminate on their naïveté.
At 5 a.m. on Friday morning, there were 75 trucks at the meeting place and they were so excited to charge the District of Columbia that they couldn’t wait for the rest of the truckers to get there by the appointed departure time of 7 a.m. and so, instead, bolted for the inner loop.
At one point, the Beltway spread clear and free before the truckers, gleaming in the early morning sunlight, but, behind them, was backed up for miles.
Eh, the truckers didn’t really change traffic. Come on, like you could make D.C. traffic worse.
The Truckers for the Constitution — all dozens/hundreds/thousands of them — were going to meet Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas), Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah), Representative Michele Bachmann (R., Minn.), and/or Representative Louie Gohmert (R., Texas) at the World War II memorial at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, sure as shootin’.
The fog of war, if you will, was a bit of a factor. But after a day of tailgating flatbed trailers around the Beltway, chatting up hitchhikers in the parking lot of a truck stop, listening to a Louie Gohmert encomium, chasing down a guy named General Lee to get a ride in his big rig, and railing McDonald’s coffee, here’s what I know for sure: Truckers for the Constitution is not so great at scheduling.
My incredibly long-suffering friend Derek Dye and I rolled into the Doswell truck stop at about 6:50 on Friday morning because I’d heard the truckers — maybe hundreds of them, maybe thousands! — would be rolling out at 7 a.m., so we figured we’d catch their magnificent departure and then chat up stragglers. It was a good plan. It was the kind of plan that always works. It was executed with surgical precision. And yet.
When we got to the enormous parking lot (a veritable wasteland of cement and oil grease, with a tiny chapel at one end and a odd-smelling gas station at the other), there was a grand total of, let’s say, six semis, as well as a handful of organizers, supporters, and baffled onlookers standing around in the lot and blinking in the half-light.
The rest of the day could have been scripted by a Coen Brother. It took about half an hour to ascertain that nobody in that parking lot had any sort of clue as to how many trucks had left, when they left, or where exactly they intended to go. And while I did have an interesting conversation with Ruth Saylor and Chip Jones, a pair who had hitchhiked to Doswell from North Carolina to show support for the truckers and who also thought America should do to Obama what a hiker does to a calf-affixed tick (their analogy, not mine), I didn’t learn many facts.
The first concrete information we got came sometime between 9 and 10 o’clock. Until then, we’d largely been standing around, watching an InfoWars cameraman conduct an hour-long interview with one Truckers for the Constitution advocate, and rubbing our hands together. But then Zeeda Andrews, the portly country singer turned freelance constitutional scholar who helped concoct the idea of clogging Beltway traffic to stick it to Obama, distributed a list of demands to reporters and onlookers.
The demands were supposed to be on the group’s website, she explained, but it crashed. So she had to borrow the printer in the truck stop to distribute the document.
The document kicks off by charging that, long before his election, “Barry Soetoro, aka Barack Obama, was already plotting with others, to overturn the Constitution of the United States.” Characterized by eccentric punctuation and InfoWars-friendly theories, the two-and-a-half-page manifesto listed a host of demands and charges, beginning with a statement on the “felony offense” the president committed by providing forged documents to show his eligibility for the presidency and ending with the expectation that the “current administration” stop “administering experimental, psychotropic, mind altering drugs for control over soldiers during secret, clandestine operations.”
“I think somebody up there was like, ‘You know what? I think we might have gone one step too far, and we have just about pissed everybody off,’” Lee adds.
But they’re not resting with a few disappeared barricades. Lacovara says the Beltway adventurism of this weekend is just the start.
“This is the birth of something right here that, if they don’t straighten out — and I don’t think I need to finish that sentence,” he says from the back of the truck.
Their long-term goals are a lot bigger than adding 30 minutes to Washingtonians’ morning commutes, which is Lee’s estimation of the protest’s impact.
“I don’t know whether Obama’s documents are real, fake, whatever,” he says. “But I do feel like that he has been — that he has been an extremely poor president. I would call for his impeachment or resignation,” he concludes.
“You would?” I asked.
“I’ll just put it that way,” he says.
“Impeachment,” says Lacovara.