President Trump did not have to travel far today to offer his condolences to former President George W. Bush over the death of his father and predecessor as president. The 43rd president and his wife Laura were staying at the guest quarters for executive branch visitors, Blair House, just 250 yards away from the White House, right across Pennsylvania Avenue.
For most people the 750 foot journey could be made in a quick 5 minute walk, but as we all know by now, Trump is not most people. The president and his entourage, including his wife Melania, loaded into an eight car motorcade including the presidential parade stretch limo, according to a report in The Washington Post — despite being able to see Blair House from the White House windows.
Trump and the first lady spent 23 minutes with his predecessor and his wife at a meeting described as “cordial” by the paper. The Bushes greeted them at the curb as they exited their vehicles and George W. and Melania did the obligatory cheek kisses in a condolence call in advance of the state funeral for former President George H. W. Bush at the National Cathedral tomorrow.
Trump’s use of a motorcade, however, did raise the question as to why Trump simply didn’t cross the street on foot. Was it laziness, assassination paranoia, a gesture of pompous respect, or something else entirely?
“Presidents, including the last one, have made the walk before,” noted Ned Price, a former National Security Council spokesman in the Obama administration.
CNN Security Analyst Sam Vinograd posted a snarkier explanation on Twitter that hearkened back to the president’s excuse for avoiding the draft during the Vietnam War.
— Sam Vinograd (@sam_vinograd) December 4, 2018
Trump will likely be particularly annoyed by the comparisons to the many times President Obama made the brief stroll across the street from the Oval Office to Bair House and other nearby locations that The Post noted.
“In an email, Price pointed to President Barack Obama walking Chinese President Xi Jinping from the White House to Blair House after a private dinner during Xi’s state visit in September 2015. He also recalled another occasion, a year earlier, when Obama and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough left the White House for a quick trip to a nearby Starbucks, with Obama joking to reporters that “the bear is loose” — a reference to his 2008 campaign when he felt confined by his newfound Secret Service bubble,” The Post explained.
With the weather cold but free of the rain that kept Trump from visiting a military cemetary in France, the White House declined to comment on the reason for taking a motorcade to travel a little more than a tenth of a mile.
To be absolutely fair to the president, it should be pointed out that Trump would also have had to walk back to the White House if he did not take a limo, doubling the length of the journey.
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Original reporting by David Nakamura at The Washington Post.