I work in downtown Washington, DC, so the occasional Presidential and other big wig motorcade is fairly common. As I was walking to the subway to go home, I saw my first Obama motorcade. I was proud, but I also reflected on his new life.
Anyone who works in and around Washington, DC has seen the occasional Presidential or visiting head of state motorcade. It's always impressive, even if you don't care much for the occupants. The routine is that the DC police block the cross streets of traffic and a long caravan of DC police and Secret Service vehicles pass by, followed by an ambulance. My route to the office is just three blocks from the Hay Adams hotel, where the Obamas are staying, and between the hotel and the Capitol. On the way to the office today, the police were stationed at the intersection, but I did not wait to see the the motorcade pass by. On the way to the subway last evening, I saw the police get into position again and I decided to wait to for the motorcade.
The police block the north/south streets with their police cars and move into the intersection, clearing all the the cars from the intersection and the cross streets. All pedestrians are told to stay out of the street. The few cars parked on the street the motorcade is driving down are told to turn their cars off. Some pedestrians ask how long they will have to wait to cross the street?
I can hear the sirens of the motorcade coming from the direction of the Capitol. The first vehicle in the motorcade is a DC police car that stops at each of the three cars parked idling on the street, making sure that their engines are off. Following this is a group of DC police on motorcycles, and a DC police car or two. Next comes a group of black Suburbans and Tahoes, followed by a small bus, a DC ambulance and ending up with a Secret Service marked car and a DC police car. Given the reputation of the DC EMTs, I hope that nothing happens!
I was very proud to see the motorcade, that I dubbed the Obamacade. Here in DC, we get accustomed to seeing the occasional political and media celebrity. During the Clinton years, in spite of all the turmoil, at least I had the sense that the government was looking out for my interests. During the years of the Bushes, and the Reagan years before that, I had the feeling that the opposite was happening. Now we are in a transition back to a government of the people. I also reflected on how the lives of the Obamas has changed. I wondered what kind of person really wants a life where small movements require the blocking of streets?
Harry Truman used to go for walks in downtown Washington. I once saw Madeline Albright walking down the street while she was Secretary of State, with plenty of protection. Barack Obama has always seemed like a grounded person, comfortable in his skin and probably a fairly easy person to be with. He has none of that cockiness that hides insecurity exhibited by George W. Bush - someone who has only known a life of privilege. Watching the motorcade go by today, I was proud, but also sad for Obama, as he has left his former life behind.