As a rule dating back to the election, the reporters who follow the president go everywhere with him but two places: inside his home and inside his church.
When Joe Biden goes to Mass at his home parish in Delaware, the press observes from a designated area on the edge of the property, 50 yards away. Peering through the bars of a black wrought-iron fence, they can see the small parking lot where his motorcade arrives — state troopers first, then the black SUVs. Anyone who strays from the spot is met with surprising speed and firmness by a member of the parish and directed to please return to the perimeter.
The trips to St. Joseph on the Brandywine, the pale-yellow church where Biden has worshiped for decades, are recorded in spare pool reports from the press like this one on a Saturday in the dead of mid-July. “POTUS left residence at 4:09 p.m. Motorcade is rolling.”
The reports omit the anodyne details of the motorcade’s arrival: how the car doors open, and Secret Service agents spill out, fanning out across the lawn; how he emerges from a darkened backseat, always a few minutes after service begins; how he ducks inside, slipping out of view into a pew near the back without disturbing the congregation. The whole thing happens in 45 seconds. In pictures, the president is always either entering or leaving, viewed from a distance: now in snow, now in sun, now in rain; in a navy suit, a brown sport coat, a blue button-down, shirt sleeves rolled up, sometimes down, aviators, no aviators, masked, maskless. Stack the images together, and you see one endless solitary — and silent — walk to attend Mass.