Monday, March 19, 2012

Oh, No You Can't Do That!

Try as I might I just can’t help writing about stupid political tricks, and I mean that in the nicest possible way. Newt Gingrich, requested Secret Service protection last week and guess what? He got Secret Service protection this week. “ OH PLEEEEEZE”

You may ask yourself, why? You are not alone. I’m still scratching my head. Here’s the law:
“Major presidential and vice presidential candidates and their spouses within 120 days of a general presidential election. As defined in statute, the term "major presidential and vice presidential candidates" means those individuals identified as such by the Secretary of Homeland Security after consultation with an advisory committee. The Secret Service (SS), has no role in determining who is to be considered a major candidate. The Secretary of the Homeland Security determines who qualifies as a major candidate….”
on the Romney trail, last month
Let me get this straight. Janet Neapolitan decided that Newt Gingrich is a major Presidential Candidate? Well, maybe a month ago, but now? He hasn’t participated in a campaign event in weeks. Not that I blame him for the request. It’s much more fun and convenient to travel with SS than without, especially if you are tired of making your own travel arrangements, driving your own car, and having to be bothered with people you don’t like. It falls in that realm of “it’s nice to be king”.

When I started in politics (yes I rode my dinosaur to work), The Secret Service protected the Candidate, and the candidate’s family when they were together. They never made decisions about the security at any campaign event. It worked like this; the campaign staff would design the event. It usually meant throwing the Candidate into the middle of (we all hoped) a screaming crowd which was driven to tears by the mere thought of getting to see this splendid political force (who they hoped would lead the nation). The Secret Service would consult with the campaign, usually insisting that the Candidate be put in a bullet proof glass box, and never allowed to shake a hand. The final arbiter in the discussion of how the candidate was introduced, was usually the campaign manager or, if the discussion got heated, the Candidate. In other words, the Secret Service would spell out the kind and seriousness of the threat, and offer suggestions about how to avoid a life threatening situation. The staff would insist that the politics of the event be considered, and ultimately, the Secret Service would protect the Candidate whatever was decided about the event. These, brave people, were willing to take a bullet for their protectee—which could not be said by any staff I ever knew – but the politics and the opinions of the professional political operatives , would be taken into consideration.

This is no longer the case. Every campaign aide thinks they are working with/for the Secret Service to protect the Candidate from the media and the public. Everyone who attends a political event, a parade, or anywhere the Candidate appears, is subject to serious scrutiny, and ultimately security will make the decision about who gets to be wherever – even if the intruder is an important political asset. Yesterday, two people who were kissing were removed by Santorum’s security detail. They weren’t lewd or obstreperous – but even if they were, why is that a threat to the candidate’s personal safety. (One of the reasons a Candidate has SS.)

Let’s be real here. The simple fact is that it’s easier for the SS, or police, to simply shut something down than to have to deal with the inconvenience of securing a site. That is not to say that the SS chooses to make it easy rather than complicated, but that should be taken into consideration when no one is permitted to cross a street six miles from where the Candidate will be. Security, like everything else about politics and campaigning, has simply decided on overkill rather than thoughtful planning and administering any political policy.

If you hurry, you can still get somewhat close to the Candidates. But make it quick, because by the time there is a nominee, you thinking you actually saw the Candidate will be a figment of your imagination. We’re just sayin’… Iris

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