The Aardvark Speaks : essence, effervescence, obscurity. Established 2002. A weblog by Horst Prillinger. ISSN 1726-5320

June 20, 2006


At least the Americans didn't demand that the sewers be welded shut, like they did during Mr. Bush's last visit in Germany. It's a small victory I guess. Still, the Austrian police are currently patrolling the Vienna sewers, and will continue to do so for the next 48 hours.

Sealing off the entire Stephansplatz area for five hours tomorrow just so that Mrs. Bush can go visit St. Stephen's Cathedral says a lot about the perceived self-importance of the American president and his wife. Since not even the Pope demanded that the inner city be emptied of people during his visit and the Pope supposedly ranks directly below God, this must mean that the American president and his wife rank somewhere in the supernatural sphere above God. Or that that at least they think they do. Or, if we all didn't know that the president of the United States is a fearless pillar of courage, someone might suggest that they are simply very, very, very afraid.

Not that Mr Bush matters all that much any longer. He cannot be re-elected, and it has become quite obvious that, apparently for this very reason, he doesn't seem to care much about anything any longer. In fact, I think he makes a very poor target. If terrorists didn't primarily think about the symbolic value of their targets and would instead go for long-term effects, they'd instantly forget about Mr. Bush and choose somebody else instead.

The Austrian chief of police has said that the estimated cost of Mr. Bush's visit for the police force alone is about €1 million. No estimate has been published about the expected losses due to closed shops and museums in the city. Still, if you think about the number of heads of state who visit Vienna every year, and the security measures applied in those cases, I can think of quite a few who are more likely to be killed by assassins and still enjoy not even a fraction of the attention that Mr. Bush receives.

Information about public transport disruptions in Vienna today and tomorrow can be found on the Vienna Transport website (summary here).

Where the tens of thousands of tourists will be heading when the two most popular tourist spots in Vienna -- Stephansplatz and the Imperial Palace -- are totally sealed off, remains to be seen.

Adalbert has some pictures of the preparations to shut down Vienna on his website, by the way.

Posted by Horst on June 20, 2006 08:28 AM to news of the world | Tell-a-friend

laura g brown said on June 21, 2006 04:54 AM:

Wow. I have to apologize on behalf of my president, for disrupting summer tourism in Vienna. Anytime he visits California, it's a big disruption, too.

Jann said on June 21, 2006 05:01 AM:

I would say the cost and inconvenience of protecting this unpopular American president are well worth it when one considers the alternative, that is, that something were to happen to him. In that case, he would most probably be elevated from the status of "worst president since 1945", (Quinnipiac University survey, as reported June 1, 2006), to that of "martyr", "martyr to the 'War on Terror'" most likely. In that case, even his staunchest critics might trip over each other in their haste to get to their dictionaries in search of positive words that might apply.

The terrible policies he endorses, but does not author, would continue, however, with fewer willing to criticize.

The way to help ensure that Mr Bush remains as insignificant as you've already said he is, is to keep him safe while he's there.

dieter said on June 21, 2006 09:44 AM:

On the yesterday's morning news, they claimed that they did indeed weld some of the sewers. I do agree that the US President or maybe rather the secret service are very, very afraid.

However the importance depends on how important they are to the recipient politicians. In my view, this whole visit is nothing but a very expensive gig for the electoral campaign of our chancellor.

nora said on June 21, 2006 07:38 PM:

weld all the sewers, and the take him on a third man tour!

nora said on June 21, 2006 07:39 PM:

well, all the sewers, minus one, then the tour, then weld the last one.

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