South Lawn of the White House
Monday Afternoon, November 7, 2016
The Last 100 Days of the Presidency of Barack Obama
A gorgeous warm “global warming” day in the country’s capital! Lafayette, the street at the front of the White House is permanently closed to public traffic. It is open to pedestrians. About every twenty feet I am in the presence of Security on foot, or bike, or one police car or two. Each man and woman wears armor under their uniforms. Their torsos look about two feet thick. Ones in black are identified as Secret Service. The ones in green are something else. I don’t want to keep track! Green, Black and Gray, some stand at attention, they gaze back and forth across the individual and small groups that walk back and forth to the fence to take a closer look at the White House entrance. Security on bicycles circles back and forth across the street. Somehow being here is like being in the middle of a very active if not deadly virus.
I am approached by a young man who wants to know if I will talk into a camera about the “minimum wage”. I say I am all for it, but I refuse to be on camera. This is not an environment to entrust anybody with the use of your image.
Further along the street is shut off to everyone. Loud and clear is the grinding sound of pouring concrete and hammers. “They are building the review stand for the inauguration,” a Secret Service guy on a bike tells me. They are beginning to close down Obama’s regime. When the President is at home it must sound like a death knell: the place where all the charisma of his office, his power and remaining aspirations will come to a close. I ask him if he is going to miss the President. “No. I will have the same job with the new person.”
I go to the street behind the South Lawn. I see well-dressed men and women exiting the Executive Building. One group I hear is talking about “the Judges.” Others are quiet. It is difficult to escape the sense that they are anxious about what is to happen tomorrow. In fact everyone I talk to is anxious, the fear of a Trump victory is that pernicious.
Pens in hand I am anxious about the arrival of Security. I draw for almost two hours. As it gets dark, two Secret Service guys on bikes come to check me out. “I see you are taking notes.” I left my notebook open. I tell him I am an artist and a writer and this is my work. He asks a series of template questions about how I got here from where and where I will be going.
I guess I convinced them that I mean no harm. I will spare anyone the rest of details. As they leave, they also will not respond to my question of whether or not they will miss their boss. The job apparently does not permit anyone to say anything personal about the President. I would say the “public heart” is full of holes. I wrote that in my notebook.