Why Obama is worth it

So as anybody associated with USC knows, Barack Obama came to stump for Boxer and Brown today, and I REALLY CAN NOT TELL YOU how massively inconvenient this was. The major mistake USC made—which it always makes, frankly—was not simply telling everybody to cancel their on-campus activities and stay home.

So today we had a Lusk Center event where I agreed to discuss a very nice paper by Marlon Boarnet. And I had to go to VKC at 10 am for a student’s PhD defense. Now, keep in mind, I can throw a softball from my building and hit VKC. With the security measures for the president, it took me an hour to get from my building to VKC. During that time I was bullied by security guards, screamed at by angry people who felt like I was jumping the line (“Hey BITCH GET BACK IN LINE” “HEY! HEY! You don’t have a ticket!”) (Um, I’m going to discuss a 275-page dissertation on ground-level ozone; if you want to switch places with me, be my guest…).

So having been shoved around by security (not kidding: one security guard told me to go forward and, apparently, her partner, Barney Fife, didn’t hear her, and so he gave me a hard shove backward. It hurt. And it was unnecessary and inappropriate)…I made my through to the building which was not closed, not open partially open, not open at all (depending on which security guard was screaming at you).

So after I finished the defense, I walked out to even more security shouting and bullying about routes that are off-limits rather than directing you to routes that ARE where they want you to go (really helpful; good work, there, folks).

However, as I did manage to find my way through the crowd of people who were still waiting, I got stuck beside a cluster of elementary school age African American boys. One looked up at me, I smiled at him, and he said, eyes shining, “We’re going to see the President.”

100 percent worth it.

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3 thoughts on “Why Obama is worth it

  1. see, this is why academics should still wear robes all the time, then it would have been obvious you were trying to go to a defense instead of queue-jumping.

    so what i’m wondering, is what’s your ballpark guess as to how much of the crazy was that there was a large crowd and how much of it was that there was that the secret service was applying its hyper-vigilant standards to said crowd? in other words, how much worse was it than if it were, for example, a concert, sporting match, or graduation with similar turnout held at the same location?

  2. I think it was the combination of USC trying to stay open and the secret service. The secret service were hypervigilent, and the staff here were told that buildings were going to be open and we should “go about our business” by the university, but the secret service was having none of that–they were shutting down buildings left and right along with routes the university said would be open. It was a mess and none of the staff did anything that day other than look for Obama and watch the speeches webcast (and who could blame them? I would do the same!) I blame USC more than the secret service. USC always tries this “Cake and eat it, too” approach to everything, never making choices that make things go more smoothly and in a more straightforward way.

  3. For example, had we just been told that VKC was going to be off-limits, period, the end, we could have arranged to meet off-campus for this kid’s defense. But no. “Part of VKC will be open”. Uh-huh. Which part? Not telling. Is this part open? No. That part? No. Any part? You can’t go that way. Complete mess.

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