so when is it overkill?

Can a president be president if always hidden and always hiding?

The one being protected always has the last word. For examples, look at the public behavior of every legitimate chief executive we've ever had.

Some people and agencies are responsible for offering a president the maximum possible degree of security. But when is it overkill? In the end the protectee decides upon the amount of protection, which today more and more means real isolation, to be tolerated at any given time or place. This is especially true since even the most extraordinary measures cannot guarantee success in the end.

The decisions a president makes about personal mobility and visiblity will rest on many factors, including his or her intelligence, awareness, familiarity with the world, democratic concept of office, both desire and ability to communicate, self-assurance, pride and yes, personal courage. I didn't even mention popularity. Bush fails in every area, so we shouldn't be surprised that he has been in a virtual cocoon since seizing office. Even his few public appearances are invariably before invited guests, preferably on military installations or in government spaces.

The one thing he posesses indisputably is power. Power buys a lot of reassurance, and almost enough security, but it guarantees isolation..

This week we've seen him locked up inside the blockhouse of Buckingham Palace and the solid steel vault of his 10 or 12 thousand pound tank, a prisoner of his public indifference, his evil policy and his cowardice, but most people on this side of the water are only vaguely aware of the extent to which he and his bloated establishment have gone to isolate him on this supposedly triumphal and celebratory trip.

Some of his handlers' wildest schemes have been shot down by hosts otherwise far too accomodating of White House obsessions, as James Rideway reports this week in the Village Voice:

One British official told the press that preparations for the Bush visit had been "hijacked" by the U.S. Secret Service. "They wanted to make structural changes to the Queen's home, and this was never going to happen," said the aide. "Agents brought in structural engineers who said walls must be strengthened and the blast-proof glass replaced with something stronger. They were obsessed, and still are, by the threat of an attack from the air."

There was even a plan for a Black Hawk helicopter to hover over the palace grounds. But the Brits said no.

They were going to re-build Buck House? 'nuff said.

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Published on November 20, 2003 5:21 PM.

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