Hope you had a pleasant — and restful — Thanksgiving holiday. Hope Congress and the Obama administration did, too, since they start this week with an agenda chock-full of important tasks: Afghanistan, health care, climate change and Copenhagen, etc.
Of course, the story that has dominated official Washington over the last week is the intriguing tale of the social-climbing, gate-crashing, celebrity-seeking Salahis, who managed to get into a very exclusive state dinner last week without an invitation. It’s fun to focus on another American couple so obsessed with their fifteen minutes of fame.
But it goes without saying that there’s a deadly serious element to this story. The couple managed to get into the receiving line to shake hands with the president; if they had intended to kill Obama, he’d be dead already.
The Secret Service has tended to be a bit defensive about its ability to protect the nation’s first black president; last month, I posted an item about a government report on the unprecedented number of threats against Obama. Immediately, I received a phone call from a spokesman for the agency who said the report was wrong, that the number of threats against Obama was “within the same range” as other presidents.
The domestic threat is also growing, fueled in part by Obama’s election as the nation’s first black president, according to specialists who study homegrown radical movements.
Obama, who was given Secret Service protection 18 months before the election – the earliest ever for a presidential candidate – has been the target of more threats since his inauguration than his predecessors.
UPDATE: Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan says that while there was a rise in threats right after the inauguration, the number of threats against Obama is now “within the range” of the number of threats against the last two presidents
Whatever the number of threats, it’s clear the Secret Service isn’t doing a good enough job to protect against them, what with the Salahis walking right past security and into the White House. So here’s the question: how harshly will the Secret Service discipline the agents who messed up?