Wednesday, September 12, 2012



I encountered a bit of a traffic jam shortly after leaving church in Merritt Island, Florida last Sunday. With sirens blazing and wailing, the longest police motorcycle procession I've ever seen whisked by as I traveled along SR520. I soon found myself near the front of a quickly mounting line of inert autos. I was close enough to the intersection  to see  a police officer standing in the middle, stopping traffic. Green light after red light after green light after red light — it seemed that for whatever reason,  nobody was going anywhere anytime soon.

And suddenly, there it was  surrounded by more motorcycle police officers and several official-looking SUVs  a shiny, big black tour bus with the Presidential Seal emblazoned on the side came barreling through the intersection. Holy "One-Termer" Batman — President Obama is in town!

It's common knowledge to most who know me, that I'm one of those self-righteous, uncaring, judgmental, right-wing, wacko Christian homophobes  you know, the ones who the broad-minded liberal media messiahs have been ordained to warn the other "smart" people about.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for President Obama's past "accomplishments" (snicker), future "vision" (shudder) and current candidacy, he is (for now) our President and I respect him and the office he holds. Hence, I couldn't help but be impressed by the wow-factor as the mighty motorcade drove by.

However, I find it a bit troubling that in our current "Tweeting with Stars" society, the position of President of the United States of America is held with little more reverence than that of an American Idol winner. And over the last four years, creating and maintaining the presidential rock star perception partially has been an inside job. This point was driven home clearly during the President's campaign stop last weekend. By now, most everyone has seen the photos and heard the story of  Fort Pierce, Florida restaurant owner Scott Van Duzer picking up and bear-hugging the President when Obama "happened by" to pick up a pizza for his local staffers.

Scott Van Duzer "welcomes" U.S. President
Barack Obama to his Florida pizzeria.
(Hail to the cheese, indeed!) 
If this was a staged photo op (and I'm sure it was), the imagery only devalues what I believe should be Obama's respected position  further creating a perception that tweeting with Charlie Sheen 'bout 'scripts, downloading beev shots of Britney Spears and physically accosting the President of the United States is, all good, dawg.

And then there's Vice President Joe Biden  a man who holds what (until recently) I thought was also a position of respect and honor. Apparently that memo didn't make it to Mr. Biden's desk as he too participated in his own rather dubious photo ops last weekend while "campaigning" in Ohio.

A mere heartbeat from the U.S.
Presidency, Vice President Joe Biden
"connects" with an Ohio voter.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden
"heads to second" with voter in Ohio. 
Yikes, these types of images and PR stunts make me yearn for the good old days of American presidential politics  back when the office was respected and candidates bailed out of races and were replaced on tickets for appearing less than presidential. The times, they are certainly a changin'.

-Christopher Long
September 2012

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