The President’s Tour Bus: ‘The Medium is the Message’

This morning, POLITICO Playbook’s Mike Allen reports:

President with New Secret Service Tour Bus

OBAMA IS ROLLING IN A BRAND-NEW, JET-BLACK , $1.1-million armored bus with blacked out windows. The Secret Service owns it, but it’s not a “presidential bus”:  An official tells us it can be used for other protectees, including the vice president, and presidential candidates….

–See the bus, in this “Bus vs. ‘Beast'” slideshow, comparing the bus (“sleek and even sinister looking”) with the presidential limo.

–NAME THE BUS: The Secret Service says the bus doesn’t yet have an official handle….

THE ONE TO BEAT: In a hit we just did with Steffan Tubbs of KOA Denver, he suggested THE BLACK SWAN…. Who can top it?

Certainly not me.

‘The Black Swan’ is a nicely ironic handle for any Wonder Bread loaf on tires.  But for this one, it’s perfect.

Here’s a president regarded by friends and foes as woefully out of touch with ‘the people’ touring the heartland in a SWAT team bus that makes certain no constituent can see him until, preceded by dark-suited guards, he steps from the coach.

‘The medium is the message.’  Marshall McLuhan said rightly – as I discussed here.  And so it is with this big black bird substituted for the big gray dog.

‘The Black Swan’ conveys deliberate isolation from reality and obliviousness to the purpose of stump tour – to be seen.  Much worse, the black bus with blacked out windows at once implies fear of the people beyond its armour-plate and, accompanied by an armada of similarly colored SUVs, inspires fear where the trip should spark affection.


Franklin D. Roosevelt on Tour

The stump-tour medium of choice for the man who created President Obama’s Social Security problem was much different.  And, it produced a predictable outcome times four.  No ‘black swans’ in his campaigns….

But the Secret Service bus enveloping our President is no fluke, no aberration in the American image.

Long before 9/11, police began uniforming and equipping themselves as paramilitaries.  Soldiers began wearing combat boots and uniforms – not dress uniforms – off their US bases.  And stealth black became air power’s color of choice when camouflage was not in order.

The medium is the message.  We must be aware of who is getting it – and what it is.