What does "had given considerable thought to an original reception, and the President became as much spectator as spectacle." mean?
People come not only for watching, but for greeting?
The president become both the watcher and the watched?
I'm not sure what "original reception" means, but perhaps there was unrest behind the mantle of humanity and people were thinking about rioting.
To answer your question, I think the president was two things, he was watching the people, and he was also being watched by the people.