In January, many thousands of Americans coming in on planes, trains, and automobiles to protest abortion for the "March for Life" were relegated to the bottom of the front page of the Metro section (and about 11 pro-abortion activists got equal billing). But just one protester was awarded a huge splash across most of Saturday's Style section. That would be one George Clooney, going through the typical liberal trespass-arrest protest at the Sudanese embassy.
"In tails and cuffs" were the large words above a 5-by-7-inch picture of Clooney in plastic handcuffs. Under Aaron Leitko's byline, these words came in subhead type: "A good way to close out a hectic week in Washington: Orchestrate your own arrest. For a good cause, of course." There were only five paragraphs of honorific text (some of it highlighted in yellow), but four color pictures. All told, it splashed eight inches across and 18 inches down to the bottom of the page -- 144 square inches of front-page Style goo.
We're told there were about 100 people assembled around the embassy, but Clooney and his father getting arrested were the main attraction. Leitko summarized that Clooney was protesting Sudanese dictator Omar el-Bashir and his blockade of food and humanitarian aid from people in the states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan:
Backed by a rogues’ gallery of do-gooders — including his father, Nick, civil rights scion Martin Luther King III and congressman James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) — Clooney stepped onto the embassy’s lawn, was told to leave three times and declined to do so. Secret Service officers were waiting with a pair of wrist restraints.
Normally, there would be a bit of shock and awe in watching a former Batman get tossed into a paddywagon on Massachusetts Avenue. But the wow factor was toned down because (1) the protest, including Clooney’s arrest, was announced in advance Thursday, and (2) the immaculately tanned actor has been in town all week, eating up the limelight.
On Wednesday morning, Clooney, fresh from a visit to South Sudan, testified at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing regarding the nation’s burgeoning humanitarian crisis. That night, he scored a spot at the first family’s dinner table during the state dinner with British Prime Minister David Cameron. On Thursday, he paid a visit to the Oval Office, addressed reporters in front of the White House and stopped by the Willard Hotel for a glass of iced tea. Finally, Friday’s act of planned civil disobedience.
At least they avoided some of the really egregious "Saint George" the "21st Century Statesman" stuff that Newsweek ran last year.