Many who read this will be too young to remember that the President of the United States used to ride around in a topless limousine, or that he used to speak to crowds that were not screened in advance, or that he used to walk down the street shaking hands with random citizens. That all pretty much ended in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963.
George W. Bush, however, has carried it to new extremes…
Bush’s Shrinking Safety Zone
What does it say about the president of the United States that he won’t go anywhere near ordinary citizens any more? And that he’ll only speak to captive audiences?
President Bush’s safety zone these days doesn’t appear to extend very far beyond military bases, other federal installations and Republican fundraisers…
When was the last time that Bush spoke in a forum open to citizens who are representative of the diverse array of views in the country? Certainly not since last October’s presidential debates, and not often before then, either.
The White House advance team has long been sensitive to the potency of imagery in presidential events, going to great lengths to stage dramatic backdrops for Bush’s appearances. In particular, they have used uniformed, on-duty military audiences many times before to underscore his case for war.
During last year’s campaign, White House advance teams began screening audiences at Bush events to insure that only supporters were allowed in. After the election, that policy gave way to a new, “invitation only” approach, in which tickets to so-called public events were distributed largely by Republican and business groups. Now Bush is in phase three, where almost everyone he appears before is either on the federal payroll or a Republican donor.