Saturday, July 21, 2007

Of the People, By the People, For the long as you don't plan on actually SEEING any of it...

So as I alluded to in an earlier post, I had an opportunity to meet the president about a week and a half ago. He was in town to discuss healthcare issues and for a short time, regenerative medicine was on his agenda. Given that it’s my bailiwick, I was on.

Under normal circumstances, the opportunity to meet a sitting president of the United States would have left me (and I suspect, most other normal people) in a state of excited anticipation. I, however, found myself dreading this meeting, as I would be in the unenviable position of needing to spend time discussing the urgent need to fund research to help treat wounded warfighters who were wounded only because of his misguided excuse for a foreign policy…well, you get the picture.

So the good news is that I dropped off the “talkie” part of the schedule. I did get to be in the peanut gallery watching him watch one of my colleagues do miraculous stuff with electrodes that can cure Parkinson’s patients. (I’ll write about that some time if I get a chance – it’s wicked cool) I was close enough that with a bit of creative effort, I could have pulled off the aforementioned gratuitous left hook to the solar plexus, however, and I do wish to exercise full marks for having resisted that temptation.

As it always the case when I see presidents in person, I was struck by how small Dubya is. I mean, he’s like, 5’10 or something like that, and certainly not “short”. I actually have no strong opinions about how tall or broad-shouldered a man should be or anything. It’s just…well…there’s a part of me that I think still has this image that the leader of the free world should be physically capable of fending off an attack from the Mongol Horde. I mean, when I met Clinton, he was like 6’2, and coulda swung a hand and a half sword if push came to shove. Course, he would have had to put down his Big Mac to do it…but I digress.

Actually that whole height think was a digression…let’s move on to the real point of this discussion.

If your idea of a Presidential motorcade harkens back to those photos of Kennedy in the convertible, with the adoring crowds lining the street and cheering as he went by, you’d be awfully surprised at the reality that is today’s presidential transport. Even 10 years ago, when I saw Clinton, you could still stand on the street when the closed, darkened limo went by, and people did, in large numbers.

When the president comes to town these days, you might as well expect that there are aliens invading the premises and you should run for your life. They close the street to traffic, of course, but it goes so much farther than that.

No one may stand on the sidewalks when the motorcade goes by. You cannot stand in a window facing the street where the limousine will be going by. If the president will be exiting the vehicle on your street, you must close all curtains and blinds. In essence, from the president’s perspective, it must appear he’s governing a complete ghost country, populated only by men in black suits with radios in their ears.

No wonder he’s out of touch!! He never sees anyone!

This country used to be known for having the most accessible leadership in the free world. That is definitely a thing of the past. When the president’s motorcade rolled in, it could just as easily been populated by Idi Amin. Complete with the armed guards, the three identical jet-black limousines, and the men in suits who ensure that no one sees the president in person.

How very sad. And how very illustrative, in my opinion.


bhd said...

How very unsurprising.

At least you weren't vetted and sent into barbed-wire enclosures.

Joni said...

Wow. I knew it was that way (with his motorcade), but to read your description of it - and to imagine how it looks just gives me chills.

Too bad you didn't get close enough to steal his watch. LOL

winter said...

I remember seeing Reagan's last campaign speech at the state capitol in Sacramento back in 1984. There were police, mounted police, riot police, National Guardsmen, Secret Service, military helicopters, and fighter jets circling overhead.

But there wasn't any clearing the sidewalks or shutting the windows.

I get the need to protect the President. But this is just ridiculous. Like you said, no wonder he's out of touch. He's been managed right into isolation.