Mark Frauenfelder at 10:16 am Thu, Nov 29, 2007
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Nice Reuters graphic shows the people, animals, and vehicles that travel with the United States President.
(Update: This graphic probably isn't from Reuters, but the numbers match this New Zealand Herald story.) Link
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His latest book is Made by Hand: My Adventures in the World of DIY
The Desolation of Tolkien
Welcome to Night Vale: an appreciation of the spookiest, funniest podcast
It’s good to be the king.
Two weeks ago I was travelling from Liverpool to London on a train (about a 2.5 hour journey).
At the station we noticed a lot of police, and the UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown came through the station and got on the same train. There were about 8-10 people with him, of which 2 were visibly undercover cops (guns etc). I was in the same coach – and although some seats were reserved and unused, there was no noticable shielding apart from when the train stopped and the cops stood up and double checked tickets
At both stations there were maybe 6 – 10 police officers around, armed – and cars waiting for him as he arrived. I am sure there were undercover cops in amongst regular passengers – but I saw no visible signs of this.
As much as I have no time for him, I was impressed with the complete lack of fuss around him travelling on public transport, it didn’t disturb me or my american colleague who I was travelling with.
That’s a pretty big entourage… but how many of those people are COOL?
He could just be hangin’ with a gaggle of dorks.
I was on the Stanford campus when GWB attempted to drop in to have dinner with former Secretary of State George Shultz last year. The campus police were out in force all day, accompanied by literally hundreds of police from surrounding communities. The entourage arrived by helicopter at a field on the edge of campus, first two Blackhawks obviously containing security and advance teams. This was followed by two more VIP Blackhawks, one of which was closely shadowed below and behind by a big triple engined Super Stallion heavy lift helicopter, which was clearly acting as an IR decoy and likely carrying the Presidential limos. Protesting students ultimately forced a change in dinner plans, by blocking the roads through campus.
Later I passed by the nearby little used Moffat Federal Airfield, and the President’s 747 was parked there along with a C5 cargo plane, so he seems to travel a little lighter at home 8^)
For the phun of it I once took a look at http://www.whitehouse.gov/robots.txt to see what kind of pages the White House wants to hide from Google. There’s some really great stuff on there including pages about their executive pastry chef, various presidents’ Easter wishes, photo essays by Mrs. Cheney, presidential accounts of visits to other lands, and a history of the White House garden.
Don’t forget the toilet and toilet crew that Bush travels with so that his feces and urine can’t fall into foreign hands.
Also, remember the Cheney, for security reasons, sometimes travels inside an air stream trailer that is loaded into a military transport.
How many under-chef’s work for the pastry chef?
As absurd as this graphic is, Bush’s entourage isn’t out of scale. When Clinton went to Africa in 1998, he was accompanied by- drum roll, please- 1,302 people from thirteen different agencies (902 of these were military or Secret Service personnel). It should be noted that Clinton’s total entourage on other, shorter trips in 1998 was generally around 500.
Westerman, since you ask: yes. It would be different. The extent to which Bush walls himself off from any unscripted contacts or exposure to unwelcome opinions is unprecedented, and way out of proportion. Gore has no comparable history.
Kevitivity: To repeat the point: no, they haven’t. Bush is way off norm.
Monkeyboy, are you kidding about the feces? Because IIRC, Cheney really does travel in an Airstream inside a full-size military transport plane.
Prufrock451, Bush’s domestic travel habits are in fact way out of scale, and everybody knows it. It muddies the issue to compare them with a full-scale Presidential visit to Africa. And by the way, can you tell me where you got those figures?
The president came to my work one time. He brought everybody on the chart plus two AV trucks filled with a stage and concert speakers.
All day we got to listen to Tears for Fears, Everybody wants to rule the World while the SS searched the buildings for I don’t know what. I am not kidding.
TNH, the numbers in the graphic refer to a trip overseas. And as I noted, Clinton’s entourage on other occasions was smaller.
This document (http://www.senate.gov/~rpc/releases/1999/eb1092199.htm) is unfortunately from the Senate Republican Policy Committee. I only cite this because it cites a GAO report which I’ve been too lazy to dig up.
I want a comparison chart! Gordon Brown Ahmenidenijad,(sp?) Putin, Chavez, etc.
I believe it is actually from Reuters, I saw this graphic a long time ago….
It might even have been in a Time Magazine??
Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator: Monkeyboy, are you kidding about the feces?
When I first heard about it I emailed a blogger in Austria and asked him if it was true that the Austrian media was buzzing about Bush’s portable toilet.
He said it was, though he never provided any links to German language newspaper articles, and didn’t know enough German to google some up.
All that protection can’t stop him from being an asshole!
I saw his motorcade go by (in the US) a few years ago. I had forgotten he was in town and had just parked my car to go to a restaurant with my wife. I just nonchalantly walked up to the street and there was a bike cop watching us and the street, and then this thing whizzed by. And then the bike cop took off.
The thought I had was “Y’know, if someone didn’t care about his life, he could have done just what I did, but his partner could have offed the cop before he even knew what hit him, and I could have taken that Suburban out with a shoulder-fired RPG. I’d be immediately killed or beaten and set to Gitmo, but the president would be dead.”
And that is about the time that it really struck me how stupid it is to even try to fight terrorists. If someone wants you dead more than they want to be alive, you’re as good as dead already. The fact that that asshat is still drawing breath speaks to the infinitesimal risk actually posed by terrorism, because, I think, anybody can be gotten to.
If he really believed in small government and spending less taxpayer money, he’d lay off two of those chefs.
#1- Haha! I would’ve expected to see at least maybe one physician on there…but four chefs?
Is anyone really naive enough to think that President Gore’s entourage would be any different?
Don’t forget his coke dealer.
“Is anyone really naive enough to think that President Gore’s entourage would be any different?”
Who said — or even implied — that it would be different?
I’ve seen some of his entourage once before– and it is impressive. What isn’t mentioned is that not only does he have his own gigantic entourage, he also has the local law enforcement involved. There were countless police, countless vans, his two cars, followed by two large transport-like trucks all the while a helicopter was flying overhead.
1) More dogs – he loves animals.
2) Less security – he wouldn’t have made every thinking adult in the world hate him.
Never mind him, Mark. Standard wingnut reflex is that, whenever someone criticizes W or one of his cronies for something, no matter how egregious, they respond by saying that a Democrat or liberal is/was/would have been just as bad, if not worse.
hmmm… i’d really like to see him add a band of professional psychologists to the bunch.
@Raian – I think that’s the worst part. I live in DC and the Vice President insists on driving himself to work every morning.
So the Metro PD has to close the entire road along his commute. So everytime he drives to work, it costs DC taxpayers $2,000 in police overtime. Good thing DC police have nothing better to do…
@ #4 peaceflagg2007
Um…that would be his dad!
“I think all presidents have an entourage thats this size.”
Hardly. I believe the Canadian prime minister often goes out on the town with one security guard. I’ve also heard the Swiss executives live just like normal citizens, commuting to work alone, hanging out at pubs, etc.
If the president of the US is simultaneously that important and that hated, that he needs a heavily armed entourage of hundreds, something is seriously messed up with the system.
I would hope the president travels with political “aides” and not “aids”.
My father always said:
“Travel light, travel bright”
It’s clear to me that Bush should either stay in the damned White House and not come out, or go someplace where there is already plenty of security, like the Green Zone in Baghdad, and stay there. This needless duplication of security effort costs money, after all — Republicans need to learn that money doesn’t grow on their grandkids’ trees.
Well: line cook, grill cook, saucier and pastry chef. And all those dogs to make sure all those chefs are on the up-and-up.
That seems reasonable, really.
Let’s say that infographic represents like, a half million bucks per day in personnel and a half million bucks per day in hardware and fuel. Why not. So a three day international trip is $3M give or take a few million.
For that low, low price you get to A) keep the executive branch running about as smoothly as it does when the president is home (worth the cost all by itself), B) feed the president like the king he is and C) keep the president alive. It’s a given that there are plenty of people around the world that would love to kill a US president. Imagine the financial cost associated with that event. Market instability, down time in the government, having some n00b VP in office making even bigger mistakes than are being made right now, etc.
Even if it worked out to $100M/yr in travel expenses, it seems relatively OK compared to say, a pointless war in some far-off desert nation with a cost running well into the hundreds of billions of dollars.
The 150 “National Security Advisors” seems weird, as does the 250 “Secret Service Agents” given that there is no listing for military personnel — the crews for the various helicopters, military protection, etc. I’m sure the total number is probably about right, but this breakdown’s a little weird.
I think all presidents have an entourage thats this size.
All I can say, is if all that security keeps him from getting knocked off and Cheney moving into the big seat, it’s worth the cost.
@Glugenwog: Such a tone (“Bush” for “The President”) would be fairly typical of the NZ Herald, if we’re still going for that as a typical source.
Besides which, using “Bush” or “The President” has the same level of accuracy. It’s just that the first of those is overly precise.
Another case of “fake but accurate”. Thanks Mark.
Wait. What about the puppeteer?
Regarding the use of “Bush” for “the president”, it’s also worth noticing that this story was produced in the specific context of Bush’s visit to Sydney for the APEC summit. That’s what’s mentioned in NZ Herald story, and it’s presumably what’s mentioned in the AAP source.
So, using a more encompassing title (“A president’s travelling entourage”) would be confusing and inappropriate in context. How many other US presidents (admittedly, who would have all had similar entourages) were visiting Sydney at the time?
Um, no. Some presidents do, sure: Putin definitely brings quite a crew with him when he travels. Most others, certainly not.
But seriously… what sort of entourage have past Presidents used? And this graphic is the entourage for travel to where?
I know everyone here hates Bush, but this is just silly… an obviously incomplete and/or inaccurate graphic used as a reason to bash Bush.
When I was in college, the G7 leaders met at our university. They welded all the manhole covers shut for blocks, closed off much of the campus, stationed snipers on rooftops all over, and had hordes of police, secret service, etc… all over the place. They did background checks on everyone and no doubt closed roads and had huge motorcades for all of the leaders.
The President of the United States (whoever he or she is) is a HUGE target for terrorists and killing him or her would provide a huge boost of prestige for whoever did it.
@ glugenwog: “travelling” is the correct spelling in the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, amongst other places.
A chef and four cooks, but where’s the food taster…?
Partisanship aside, it seems kind of big.
250 SS agents? Maybe, but surely they’re spread around? Like some are the group that show up a couple days ahead of time, etc.
150 National Security advisors? What does that mean? There’s one National Security Advisor – Stephen Hadley. Who are these other guys? Spooks? What?
200 Representatives from other U.S. departments? What other departments? 200?! C’mon…
It seems to me the President oughta be able to get by with a lot smaller entourage than that. Not only is it expensive, but that big seems unwieldy too.
Should be able to get by with only one jumbo jet’s worth of people (with additional security in escort vehicles like the choppers).
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