Arrival – The Day Before CPAC
We wanted to get here a day early in order to explore the DC area and take in the history of the town. This is my first trip to DC and I was actually quite excited to see all the history that this city has to offer.
Ben Doherty from Bridge Education Abroad Institute is accompanying me on this trip as a production assistant. He is helping me document the event in video and photo.
My first impression of Washington DC?
Seriously. They are everywhere. There was secret service, capital police, some swat looking guys with full armor and even guys with the infamous assault rifles they bitch about so much around here.
We had no specific intent but we did want to try to shoot some video and our first stop would be the White House.
We took the metro to get there after a short taxi from the hotel to the metro station. The taxi driver spoke no English and handed us the GPS as if we knew where we were going.
Needless to say, we figured it out, bought a day pass for the DC Metro and jumped on towards the White House.
We took a few pictures and decided to get some feedback from people on the street. I’ll probably post the video later as I don’t have time to edit them while I am here.
We talked to a few people, most of them were foreigners but we wanted their perspective on American Politics nonetheless.
After a while in front of the White House we decided to ring the bell at the back gate and ask to speak with the president.
As we were hanging around the gate a Capital Police officer came up on his bicycle and asked us who we were with and what we were doing.
He didn’t really give us a hard time but you could tell they were watching us so we decided not to push our luck. The last thing I wanted to do was get arrested before CPAC even started.
After the White House, we went to see the Washington Monument which is still undergoing some renovations after an earthquake in 2011. Actually, it seemed like most of the DC area and monuments were under some type of improvement or restoration process as there was construction happening everywhere.
The Reflection Pool was emptied and being renovated and there was fencing around many of the fields in DC. Not sure what was going on but I imagine this has to be the off season for tourism here in DC and there was some snow still on the ground.
We filmed another little clip in front of the Washington Monument, hoping to string them all together for a video to recap the entire trip but there was not much too see since the monument was closed.
This is where things started to get interesting.
I decided to start asking people if they thought there were still any great people in Washington. Afterall, there is so much history behind these monuments we were visiting that I couldn’t help but wonder what people thought about the current leadership.
We interviewed the stature of Abraham Lincoln (Satire – see future video) and asked a few college kids about their political views and just as things were getting interesting another security guard came over and told us that we were not allowed to be filming inside of the memorial chamber.
He referenced some statute which I have to go back and review but I thought it was a little suspect. We did not get him asking us to leave on video, but as soon as I realized what was happening I turned on the audio recorder. I have not listened to it but it will definitely be included in the video if it came out on the microphone.
Talk about police. I thought there were a big police presence at the other places we visited but the Capital Police took the cake. Fully armed, swat gear and all standing guard on the Capital steps.
There were convoys out front and lots of armored suburbans, no doubt waiting to transport a congressmen or senator. It made me wonder about how much money we spend on all of this security and staff. Then I looked around and saw the massive buildings all around the Capital and wondered how much of our Federal payroll was tied up inside these buildings.
My Overall Impression Of DC
I hate it. Seriously, it is completely detached from reality. At one point I felt like I was walking in front of the Kremlin. I spent 5 hours walking around DC and I understood why our country is in such trouble.
Stay tuned for more CPAC updates as the conference starts tomorrow and we will be broadcasting live each morning. Check back regularly for more updates from CPAC 2014