Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Presidential visit

I witnessed a memorable event this morning at work. President Obama came to the National Institutes of Health to promote the value to society and of the economy of medical research – especially that $5 billion his recovery program has added to the venture in the past eight months.

Nothing really unusual about that, per se, but what was remarkable was the sight of hundreds of the government’s top scientists and science administrators –people who are as full of themselves and as imperious as peacocks in mating season – sitting silently in their auditorium seats for half an hour before the president’s arrival, because they were told to. Oh, they Blackberried to their heart’s content, but a hall full of schmoozers, posers and, yes, high-powered intellects, gave up their preening because they were among the elect who were given tickets to the event.

Before the event, you could see non-elect employees who were not going to attend still dressed a little sharper than unusual because their president was coming. Afterwards, the really elect were higher than a fat man’s cholesterol. “I shook his hand, I shook his hand!” exulted one usually reserved man.

The president’s charisma is undeniable. Although the pictures of a lifetime I thought was taking on my office’s expensive new camera turned out to be the worst I have ever seen, at least I was there--unlike on Inauguration Day when my supposedly privileged status got me up-front tickets that could not be used because of a massive police screw-up. And this time I did not freeze at last, freeze at last.

Can I take better pictures next time? Yes, I can.

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