Kansas legislators arriving at the Capitol for the start of a special session Thursday were greeted by an unanticipated sight: President Richard Nixon protesting.
Actually, Topeka resident Marshall Barber was protesting Gov. Sam Brownback while wearing a Nixon mask. He stood next to the driveway of the Statehouse, making sure everyone who passed saw his sign.
“Even I’m embarrassed by Brownback,” it read.
“I am here to make the point that even the most disgraced president in the United States’ history would be ashamed and embarrassed of the representation of the Republican party as it exists in Kansas under the regime of Brownback and his cadre of ALEC sock puppets in the Legislature,” he said.
Barber is unhappy with what he called an attack on higher education and the attitude in the Legislature toward the state Supreme Court.
“Instead of doing their jobs, they’ve got to do all this sabre rattling, threatening to take power away from the Supreme Court,” Barber said.
At the end of May, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled the funding formula for the next fiscal year created such a wide gap in education funding that it was unconstitutional. Legislators need to fix it or risk the public school system shutting down.
The Legislature, which has until June 30 to find a solution, started a special session to address the problem Thursday. Barber decided this would be the perfect opportunity to protest.
Barber hopes “just to make the point that this guy who calls himself governor now has gone completely off the rails in such a fashion as to defile common sense and reasonability.”
Barber said he received positive attention for his political theatrics.
“Earlier this morning, I had a lot of people honking and giving a thumbs-up. I had several people want pictures and that sort of thing, so it’s been mostly positive,” he said. “I’m sure some people probably had a very negative reaction, but they seem to have kept it to themselves.”
A request for comment from Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley wasn’t immediately returned Thursday afternoon.