Traffic is jammed. Ubiquitous police officers are receiving overtime pay. A police cruiser with flashing light and a small American flag mounted on the back drives past as I stand on the corner. Sandwiched between it and another cruiser with flashing light is a large flat-bed, hauling concrete barriers. Black sport utility vehicles, driven by broad-shouldered men with crew cuts, are in abundance, hovering within blocks of the Waldorf-Astoria. Other Terminator-like men, dressed in black and packing heat and sophisticated looking equipment, move with an intimidating might-makes-right attitude. If my children were with me, they'd say, "Small penises."
Truth is that this show, a drama in search of reality, a character in search of an author, is costing the tax payers a fortune.
George Bush is coming to town.
I remember another Bush trip to the neighborhood. I was walking, exercising, when, suddenly, an officer said, "Stop, you can't enter this street."
"But I live down the block," I said.
"The president is arriving."
I glanced over my shoulder at the Waldorf. In front of the hotel and around the perimeter as far as I could see were dump trucks, filled with sand, barricades against anyone who might have a notion to harm George W. Bush.
Imagine the waste of money. I can't help but think of Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice, traveling to The Green Zone in vehicles impenetrable by explosive devices. Protection our troops don't have.
George Bush is in my neighborhood. He will visit hallowed ground. Someone has written a speech for him and it may bring tears to many eyes. I'm sure he'll link Iraq to that day five years ago when our towers were brought down. He'll say Iraq is the "central front in the war on terra."