The heads of government in London for the G-20 summit are discussing serious and weighty issues, which in time will be duly reported on, but right now the British press is entranced by the sheer size of President Obama’s traveling entourage. And no wonder.
Obama arrived with 500 staff in tow, including 200 Secret Service agents, a team of six doctors, the White House chef and kitchen staff with the president’s own food and water.
And, according to the Evening Standard, he also came with "35 vehicles in all, four speech writers and 12 teleprompters." For sure, our president is not going to be at a loss for words.
The press duly reported on Air Force One and all its bells and whistles but also on the presence of the presidential helicopter, Marine One, and a fleet of identical decoys to ferry him from Stansted airport to central London.
Among all those vehicles is the presidential limousine, which one local paper mistakenly called Cadillac One, but is universally referred to as the Beast. The limo, reinforced with ceramic and titanium armor, carries tear gas cannon, night vision devices, its own oxygen and is resistant to chemical and radiation attack. It is, marveled one reporter, a sort of mobile panic room. The Guardian called it "the ultimate in heavily armored transport."
The president is entitled to all the security, communications and support he feels necessary to do his job but surely, when we’re trying to project a more restrained, humble image to the world, the president’s huge retinue could be scaled back to something less than the triumphal march from "Aida."