ARLINGTON, Va. Speaking to a capacity crowd at the annual convention of the National Notary Public Association, President Barack Obama today hailed notaries as vital to America’s efforts to defend itself against terrorism.
“After the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, police and firemen, notary publics–or is it notaries public?–play an essential role in our nation’s defense by ensuring that terrorists do not forge installment sale contracts for major appliances,” Obama said to raucous cheers. “Wait a minute,” the President continued after quieting the crowd. “I forgot the Coast Guard–they’re ahead of you, too.”
Obama’s appearance before the group represented a bit of fence-mending on his part. “In 2008 Obama ignored us,” said Helen LaRosa, Executive Director of the group. “He’d go to the Justice of the Peace convention–sure, they’re big spenders. But notaries–no way.”
Notaries are typically paid minimal state-regulated fees to authenticate signatures on legal documents. Justices of the Peace are authorized to perform this humble service but can also officiate at weddings for which they receive much larger fees, generally in the range of $90 to $200.
Ellen Holmquist, president-elect of the National Conference of Justices of the Peace, said she didn’t consider the President’s appearance at the convention as a sign that notaries were closing the prestige gap that has long separated them from members of her profession. “From colonial times to the present, the justice of the peace has always been a leading member of the community,” she noted. ”Any fishstick with a rubber-stamp and a seal can be a notary.”
“Cel-e-brate good times, come on!”
The President’s appearance was viewed as a naked political ploy by some pundits as notaries outnumber justics of the peace by an 8.3 to 1 margin. “Justices of the Peace are really the 1% of document authenticators and authenticatettes,” said pro-notary columnist Emil Charette of the Dayton (Ohio) Times-Weathervane. “They have the high-end of the market with their society weddings, and are always trying to muscle in on the lucrative $2 to $5 deed and mortgage volume acknowledgement business.”
After the President’s speech the notaries retired to the ballroom of the Motel 6 here for an evening of dining and dancing featuring a live disk jockey. A half hour after the cash bar had opened conventioneers had loosened up a bit and were seen imprinting each other with their notary stamps.
“Things can get a little wild when notaries have had a couple of pops,” said Ernest “Bud” Philmont, of Shrewsbury, Mass. “People are going to have a lot of ink in strange places when they wake up in the morning.”
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