What the Secret Service Scandals Tell Us About Obama

Whenever we see an instance of bad, reckless or irresponsible driving on the road, most of us think, “How inconsiderate. How selfish!”

I tend to think just the opposite. Irrational and potentially dangerous behavior on the highway — dangerous for all parties — shows a lack of self-interest, self-control, self-responsibility.

That’s why when I see an instance of bad driving I say, “If only more people had a little more self-preservation — just a little!” Instead, they blithely go through life as if nothing bad can happen to them, and therefore little or no rational self-awareness is really required.

It’s one thing when people do this on the roads. But when the President of the United States can’t even protect himself by installing halfway competent and ethical people in the Secret Service, what are we to think?

The Washington Post — hardly a principled opponent of the Obama administration — recently listed all the Secret Service lapses and scandals during Obama’s 5.5 years in office. They called it a “short list,” but even the short list is too lengthy to detail here. Some examples:

11/29/09: During a state dinner for Indian Prime Minister Singh, reality television stars Michaele and Tareq Salahi, who were not invited to the event, managed to pass through two security check points and meet President Obama.

4/13/12: Ahead of the 2012 Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, a dozen agents were caught soliciting prostitutes at the Hotel Caribe.

11/14/13: Ignacio Zamora, a Secret Service agent on Obama’s detail, left a bullet in a Hay-Adams hotel room where he had been staying with a woman. Zamora was caught trying to force his way into the room to retrieve the bullet. An investigation found that Zamora and another supervisor, Timothy Barraclough, had sent suggestive emails to a female colleague. Both were suspended.

12/11/13: During Nelson Mandela’s funeral, Thamsanqa Jantjie — a sign language interpreter who didn’t actually seem to know any sign language, had faked his security credentials and was under treatment for schizophrenia — stood three feet away from President Obama during the president’s entire remarks. U.S. officials blamed South Africa for the lax security arrangements ahead of a whirlwind visit from the president.

3/27/14: Two Secret Service counter-sniper officers were suspected of drinking and then getting into a late-night car accident while President Obama was visiting Florida.

9/27/14: The Washington Post revealed last week that the Secret Service had bungled their response to the White House shooting incident involving Oscar R. Ortega-Hernandez in November 2011. Agents were ordered to “stand down” and the bullets were not discovered until five days later.  “The president and first lady, like all parents, are concerned about the safety of their children,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. “But the president and first lady also have confidence in the men and women of the Secret Service to do a very important job.” [source: WashingtonPost.com 10/1/14]

And no doubt many members of the Secret Service deserve respect. But what’s wrong at the top? What does it say about a President that he cannot manage or control the people upon whose integrity and competence his very life depends?

If Obama doesn’t care enough about himself to resolve this problem competently and effectively, how are we supposed to expect him to defend us against terrorism, ISIS, or any other threats? Not to mention put his administration in charge of virtually the entire financial and health care industries?

Today, the Huffington Post reported:

Julia Pierson resigned as the head of the scandal-ridden Secret Service on Wednesday, but details about her shaky tenure at the agency keep emerging.

A critical new report from The Washington Post portrays Pierson as a consistent voice for a less robust security presence around President Obama and other dignitaries. One of the most damning details: Pierson, who was “irate” at what she considered excessive security measures for this summer’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, said that “We need to be more like Disney World. We need to be more friendly, inviting.” Pierson had worked as a Disney costumed character during high school.

Perhaps Pierson was as depraved a choice to head up the Secret Service as these reports suggest. Or, perhaps they’re fabricated or exaggerated to make Obama not look so bad. Either way, how does it reflect well on him?

I don’t recall reading about any Secret Service scandals in administrations prior to Obama’s. There were certainly far fewer problems, if any at all. What is different about this administration compared to all of these other ones? Even if we suppose that it’s harder to find people of integrity nowadays than in the past, why did this suddenly become a big problem in 2009, while it may have been a nonexistent problem before that?

There’s an old saying, “The fish rots from the head down.” Is something rotten at the top? And, if so, what does this say about the rest of the functioning of the government?

It’s troubling and disturbing to think that the President of the United States — the man thought to be capable of moving entire oceans as recently as five years ago — is so hapless, helpless and incompetent at even managing his own security detail. Many of us seek to give him more power than our Constitution and nation’s founders ever envisioned putting in any one man’s hands. And this is how he handles the Secret Service.

As disturbing as Obama’s incompetence is, there’s something far worse to consider. Maybe he doesn’t care enough about himself to take care of this problem. Maybe when he makes all those speeches about how we all must be selfless servants of the nation and the community, and that total self-sacrifice — rather than conventionally American self-interest and self-responsibility — are the only proper goal of life … maybe he really means it.

Maybe he’s so lax at providing for the safety of himself and his family because he really doesn’t care about life, not like some of us do.

Or, along the same lines, maybe he thinks he’s safe even when he’s plainly not. Maybe he’s guilty of the hubris and unearned confidence — the kind of mentality that sank the Titanic — that more and more people seem to ascribe to him.

Maybe Obama’s so overconfident about his innate greatness that he doesn’t believe anything bad can happen to him. Maybe he doesn’t even experience rational fear, the kind required to stay sane, stable and alive.

Regardless of whether any or all of these theories are true, the Secret Service scandals show us just how out of touch with objective reality this man is. And yet we’ve given him not only the pre-existing power of the Presidency, but also the self-proclaimed determination to use his “phone and pen” to write into law just about anything he feels like, or feels he can get away with.

This also explains, and seems consistent with, a lot of other things: His reported propensity to miss most security briefings; to minimize or ignore most threats against the nation, and when forced to acknowledge them — as in the religiously inspired beheadings — to insist that it has nothing whatsoever to do with religion.

Maybe Obama bought all the b.s. that was heaped upon him in 2008. Maybe he’s still buying it. Maybe he thinks he’s invincible and infallible. Or at least feels he is.

Is this the kind of person we should have in charge of a nation once headed by people like Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln?

We’ve still got 2.5 years to go with this man.



Be sure to “friend” Dr. Hurd on Facebook. Search under “Michael  Hurd” (Rehoboth Beach DE). Get up-to-the-minute postings, recommended articles and links, and engage in back-and-forth discussion with Dr. Hurd on topics of interest. Also follow Dr. Hurd on Twitter at @MichaelJHurd1