How many people does it take to prepare for a visit by the President, the First Lady, and the Secretaries of State & Defense? Apparently, a trillion. And to do this while avoiding the toes of the other 50 countries who have delegations coming to the NATO Summit in Bucharest the first week of April requires a great deal of diplomacy.
Fortunately for me, I have been given a fairly small task as site officer for one piece of the visit. Forgive the vagueness, I promise to write a more interesting and detailed post when the Summit is over. For now, I'm learning all kinds of fascinating information related to a presidential visit, including a whole new batch of tedious acronyms. And I learned that the different kinds of podiums that travel with the president (I've discovered 3 so far) each have their own code name. The standard podium is nicknamed "Blue Goose."
I've also learned how much the media love to speculate and how wrong they can be. It's amusing to read about all the "alleged" unofficial activities that President Bush will undertake while in Bucharest.
Over the next few weeks we'll welcome a gazillion Secret Service and Diplomatic Security agents, White House advance teams, military personnel, and young interns eager to demonstrate their importance. I'll attend a lot of meetings and spend a good deal of time living out of a suitcase. Thousands of man-hours go into a visit of this magnitude, not to mention millions of dollars. I hope it's worth it. Or, at least, I hope I can get a tour of Air Force One.