In the classic movie History of the World Part II, actor/writer/producer Mel Brooks, playing French “Sun King” Louis XIV, looks toward the audience and remarks: “It’s Good to be the King.” Well, at least where visiting national parks is concerned, “It’s Good to be the President.”
Consider the special treatment that President George W. Bush received during his Friday, September 5, afternoon tour of Gettysburg National Military Park.
You and I will have to wait until the grand opening on September 26 before we can finally tour the park’s new Museum and Visitor Center. But you just don’t keep the prez waiting. He saw it all – the restored Gettysburg Cyclorama, the galleries and artifacts, the Gettysburg film, the whole shebang -- and he didn’t pay that noxious admission fee we’ve been threatened with, either.
You and I have to dig down deep for the $55 needed to hire a licensed guide for our battlefield tour. No such problem for the prez (who never carries cash or credit cards, anyway), because he was supplied with the no-charge guide services of Gabor Boritt, the Robert Fluhrer Professor of Civil War Studies and Director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College. (Professor Boritt, who has written 16 books about Lincoln and the Civil War, knows a thing or two about Gettysburg, you betcha; if he ever offered to give me a personal tour of Gettysburg, I’d ask him if it would be OK to bring along 500 of my closest friends.)
When you or I visit Gettysburg, nobody gives a damn. But when the prez visits, well, that’s a whole ‘nuther matter. The tour was a media event (which is why I know about it), the chairman of the Gettysburg Foundation was there, and the friends and associates invited to join the president welcomed the opportunity (or at least they said they did). Education Secretary Margaret Spellings was on hand, and so were some notable formers – including former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former White House political adviser Karl Rove, and former Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Karen Hughes.
The prez was invited to return later this month to attend the grand opening of the Museum and Visitor Center. He declined, of course. ‘Been there, done that.
It’s Good to be the President.