By Robert Rivard
Dear President Obama: I’m riding my bike to work tomorrow. Even the VIA bus is too big a risk. I’m afraid the people of San Antonio have no idea what’s about to hit them when Air Force One lands here and you jump into the motorcade of black limos, decoy vehicles, and ninja-loaded SUVS.
I assume you’ll arrive at Lackland Air Force Base, which is unfortunate. You won’t see our newly redone Terminal B at the San Antonio International Airport. Maybe Marine One will chopper you over to the Convention Center for the big political luncheon. But odds are there’s going to be a motorcade, and that means television reporters will be using words like “snarled” and “gridlock” and “locked down” to describe downtown and all roads leading here.
What’s the Secret Service protocol for clearing highways, streets, even overpasses? I think it’s 30 minutes prior to your arrival, even if you will speeding by at 85 mph. So anyone who plans on being anywhere near your planned route tomorrow ought to do what I’m doing: ride a bike, walk to work, or stay home.
Presidential motorcade routes are top-secret, and the Rivard Report is not about to disclose the details and invite a visit to our offices from big guys in bulky suits with earpieces. But common sense suggests every avenue and highway in and out of downtown San Antonio will be misery from midmorning through mid-afternoon.
More than 1,000 supporters have paid $250 to attend your Convention Center luncheon, and they’ve been advised to arrive by 10:30 a.m. to clear security. A contribution of $250 might seem like a lot of money to some of our readers, but that’s for a cheap seat, people. Bring a telephoto lens, assuming you are allowed to carry in a camera. The good seats, the ones that include a brief Presidential photo-op, cost $5-7,500.
Wow, that’s serious money to hobnob with the President of the United States, some of our readers are saying right now. Wrong. Serious money is what it costs to go to the Private Event at the Dominion residence of trial lawyer Mikal C. Watts. Many Rivard Report readers might not know that name, but friends in legal circles who I trust describe eight and nine-figure settlements that Watts’ law firm has won in lawsuits against major agribusiness, energy and pharmaceutical corporations. Now that’s real money. I’m told 100 people are attending the event at the Watts residence. I assume it costs $10K, minimum, but that’s just a guess.
President Obama ought to leave town with at least $1.25 million, maybe more. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney netted a record-setting $3 million-plus here in early June. Our poor city is going to be a little short for a few paychecks until we can catch up with all this political giving. Frankly, I’m not sure we can afford too many more visits between now and November. There’ll be nothing left to fund the Brainpower Initiative.
The Rivard Report, some will recall, made a $15 donation some weeks ago to the Obama Campaign after receiving a personal email from First Lady Michelle Obama inviting me, Robert, to contribute and perhaps win a private supper invitation from the Obamas. We were so excited we went online that night to research the Camp David dress code.
Then we received another personal email from Michelle Obama suggesting a modest $3 contribution might net us a seat on the campaign bus with the President. That was followed by a third invitation to donate again if we wanted to score an invite to the President’s birthday party. Well, it didn’t take long before we caught on and stopped giving. It’s pretty obvious our chances of getting in are about the same as winning Powerball, which we only play when the pot gets really big, or getting a direct deposit from a corrupt Nigerian civil servant.
The Rivard Report is feeling a bit used, actually, so we’ve ignored the recent emails from Vice President Joe Biden warning us of the implications of Romney beating Obama at the fundraising game. And we haven’t responded to the invitations to join the Obama Phone Bank in Texas, either.
It’s pretty obvious, Mr. President, that the little guy doesn’t stand a chance. Not tomorrow in San Antonio traffic, not on your campaign bus, and certainly not at the Obama supper table or Obama birthday party.
The best we can hope for is that you’ll do something spontaneous tomorrow and accept my invitation to drop by the downtown Weston Centre office tower. Come straight up to the 11th floor and we will give you, your security team, and the White House press corps a tour of Geekdom. Free, no gimmicks, no lotteries. It will be a great photo-op for you, especially when someone in the snarky White House press corps (We watched the debut of “Political Animals” on the USA Network last night.) asks how many federal tax dollars went into creating Geekdom and someone tells them ZERO.
Frankly, I’m surprised Gov. Romney didn’t stop by when he was here. It’s just the kind of thing a smart Republican would do to steal your fire, Mr. President. Best play it safe and come by tomorrow. You’ll be the first President to take the tour.
Speaking privately, Mr. President, friends in Geekdom can tell you about some of the more promising startups and the cost of getting in on the ground floor. You won’t be President forever, sir. If you’re feeling inspired after meeting all the smart young Geeks, you can invite me to tag along with you to the party at the Watts mansion. I bet the Dominion guards won’t make you show them your driver’s license or photo ID to get in. I’d like to see what that’s like, Mr. President. Give me a call, sir. Your people know how to get my cell. Or just have the First Lady email me again.
If your schedule doesn’t permit a visit to Geekdom, no big deal. I’ll be that guy on the bike waving to you downtown tomorrow. Who knows? I might pass your motorcade if the traffic is as bad as expected.