Notes:  George W. Bush met with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, an Iraq war ally, on Friday. Tens of thousands of protesters marched in Rome, though they were kept far away from Bush and were described as less in number than predicted. I wonder if western democracies have finally found a way to deal with protesters by keeping them so far away from the news story in the name of security that they don't become a part of the story. The same happened in Paris (see below).

I read several news outlets over the weekend, and while I did find mention of the protesters buried in stories, they definitely were not the headline. Keeping them far away and out of the story is a clever governmental tactic though it's 180 degrees from the concept of democracy's free expression. Imagine Vietnam protesters kept so far away from any news event that you never heard them chant, "Hey, hey, L.B.J. How many kids did you kill today?" I saw that on TV at the time. (Those of you against free expression and democracy please tune out.)

On Saturday, Bush met with French President Jacques Chirac, an Iraq war critic. In France at this writing, Reuters reports thousands of anti-war protesters marched through Paris carrying banners such as "Bush - terrorist number one!", but described the protesters' impact as less than in Rome.

Some believe the large protests were still lighter than predicted because of the recent installation of the new interim government in Iraq and Bush's turning to the United Nations for help. Bush's unilateralism has fed the protestors in the past. Though his my-way-or-the-highway approach has played well in ultra-conservative quarters in America, it has served to fuel anti-American sentiment across Europe. Under extreme pressure, Bush is now showing signs that he needs the rest of the world.