One of the hardest things for a president to do is to stay in touch with the concerns of everyday folk. It's just the nature of holding a public office, but there are certainly degrees of distance. It is easier for a state legislator to mingle among the masses than it is for a governor. And it is much easier for a member of Congress to grab a bite in a local deli than it is for the President of the United States. Every public official is treated with some deference, but the higher up the political food chain, the more likely it is that encounters with the public will lack some authenticity.
I viewed the live news coverage of Barack Obama's visit to the Tastee Sub Shop in Edison last week with this in mind. I watched as he disembarked from Air Force One to greet Governor Christie and Mayor Booker — shaking the former's hand for a prolonged 34 seconds! [I've looked at the footage a few times and I'm still not sure who refused to let go.]
I watched as his motorcade pulled up to the shop, blocked from view by a strategically placed delivery truck. I watched people gathered behind barricades yards away wondering whether the President had arrived. Not very riveting stuff.
A while later, a news pool camera came to life and Obama spoke for a few minutes to selected members of the press corp. He talked about the meeting he just had with a handful of local small business owners and called for passage of tax credit legislation to aid small businesses. Then he was whisked off to New York to tape an episode of The View and headline a fundraiser.