My childhood friend Rich --- a Florida dentist, and a veteran / Bronze Star awardee during Desert Storm 1991 --- met up with me in Denver in early July 2014 to experience the NEA's national teacher convention, where I served as an elected delegate. While there one evening, we heard that President Obama was headed towards where we were about to eat dinner. Being a right-wing Republican, Rich initially reacted with negativity and sarcasm to this news, as the first few minutes of the video show.
However, as Rich witnessed the huge presidential caravan, and the Secret Service went to work with all the elaborate and intricate precision required for the occasion, Rich seemed to soften his attitude towards the proceedings, and gradually became excited. Indeed, the closer our Commander-In-Chief came, the more star-struck and the less partisan Rich became.
At 3:19... Rich even chatted up the Secret Service, asking one of them (off-camera, but you can hear the conversation) if the man knew the Secret Service officers who had been involved in the Secret Service's prostitution scandal during a presidential visit to South America a few years ago.
"You guys do a hard job.... Did you know any of those guys who were with the 'ladies of the evening'?"
Surprisingly, the Secret Service man chuckled, then responded good-naturedly, "No, I did not. I wasn't on when that happened." You can't see this, as it's off-camera, but the nearby people witnessing this dropped their jaws at this bizarre back-and-forth.
"Hey, there's a few bad apples in every batch, " Rich reassured the Secret Service man.
Good ol' Rich!
One of the women there asked one of them, "Are you Secret Service?" when the men in suits started "wanding" all of us with metal detector wands.
"No, he's an accountant," I replied, a bit wise-ass. (you can hear that, too)
Anyway, the video reaches its climax when President Obama came over and worked the crowd lined up on the street. Shaking Obama's hand and talking to him, Rich acted like a teenage fan meeting his favorite rock star, turning to the camera and shouting, "Look who's here!" Quite a contrast to his earlier disposition. (Rich later maintained that his effusive display was for "The Office of the Presidency". )
The rest of the video is anti-climactic, as the President tries to make a connection and have a brief conversation with every Denver citizen (or out-of-town visitor like Rich and me) that he encounters and shakes hands with on the sidewalk.
Whatever one's politics might be, this scene of the top guy casually and genuinely interacting with regular citizens reflects well on our democracy, and was, to me at least, a little moving.
Finally, Obama gets in "The Beast", the presidential SUV, then rides away.