Obama Security

There’s a great deal of talk just now about the Secret Service decision at a rally in Dallas to not provide security for Obama (see my recent sidebar). My own take on it is in two parts: first, it feels a lot like the administration is testing the waters: “Can we get away with this?” More significantly, that the notion of an assassination (or, if you prefer, permitting an assassination) is even being considered points to deep divisions within the ruling class.

It’s only the pseudo-Marxists who talk as if the ruling class is a single, homogeneous bloc. They have their divisions too: different sections have different interests, and different means of protecting their profits. Some, apparently, don’t think Obama’s ties to Wall Street, and the reassurances he gives with every speech that corporate interests will not be harmed, are sufficient.

It goes without saying that when Obama says, “my number one job as president will be to keep the American people safe. And I will do whatever is required to accomplish that, and I will not hesitate to act against those that would do America harm. Now, that involves maintaining the strongest military on earth…” and “I believe in the free market…We don’t believe in government doing what we can do for ourselves” I believe him. I’m fairly sure most sections of ruling class believe him too; but many of them question is whether he can actually pull off the continuing attacks on rights and living standards that they need.

— skzb

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0 thoughts on “Obama Security”

  1. Though Edwards would be considered a conservative in more civilized countries, his rhetoric made the DLC as uncomfortable as it made Republicans. And now Obama is adopting some of that rhetoric, so there are reasons for the right to be nervous. Even when it’s only rhetoric, rhetoric is dangerous.

    If there’s anything to this, my current theory is they want Obama to be Robert F. Kennedy. That way, Hillary Clinton can be Humphrey and, based on the last polls I saw, lose to McCain, the designated Nixon.

    On the other hand, I still think it’s possible that Obama’s intended to be the LBJ, the peace candidate who can win, then ramp up the war.

    Aren’t US politics fun?

  2. I think it is perhaps a bit fatuous to compare today’s political candidates to those we have known in the past and assume that these political realities are the same as those we have once known. I mean how do you know that maybe Hillary is not the Grover Cleveland of her day?

    Well, okay, she isn’t. But neither is Obama. Neither is Obama a John Edwards. He is only himself. He is… well, I don’t know that he truly has any new ideas. But, in my 35 years, I have only seen one other politician who can inspire as Barack Obama can, and that would be Ronald Reagan.

    …or not. I ain’t married to any of this, really. Mostly I want to get the best of life for my family.

  3. The only thing I was able to google about the Secret Service and Dallas was the decision to speed up entry into the building by stopping screening for weapons mid way through the process. Do you have a link to something I’m missing?

    This really seems like a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” kind of situation. If you screen everyone, then you have a half empty rally, which makes Obama look bad. If you screen only white men with short haircuts, you get accused of profiling. If you decide they seem like a friendly crowd and let them in, you get the administration accused of tacit assassination.

    I did learn that Obama was the earliest candidate ever to receive Secret Service protection, which requires a Congressional approval.

    My uncle was a Secret Service agent for many years. He started out in the field anti-counterfeiting, then during the Carter administration he was actually assigned to the Presidential detail; by the Reagan administration he had a desk job.

    While this doesn’t qualify me as an expert by any means, I do recall that a lot of his work for Carter involved travel to foreign countries in advance to screen the area. I’d suspect that in today’s age, an even larger percentage of the protection consists of advance scouting and information gathering.

  4. I’m a little bit technologically challenged, but I did find the link (in the sidebar, where you said it would be.)

    I can only say that the website author has a healthy smattering of opinion based statements that he’s considering to be facts.

    It reminds me of the Govt. conspiracy theory foolishness surrounding 911.

  5. Eric, I’m only comparing 2008 to 1968, the last time a major candidate was killed during the race. Edwards plays Eugene McCarthy, and the game plan works out fairly well, because the Democratic establishment hates his populist approach and won’t support him.

    The weakness that I see in the analogies is that in polls, Edwards can beat McCain. While I like to think McCarthy could’ve beaten Nixon, I don’t have anything to back that up with.

  6. The very point that this could be “testing the waters” or, as someone in the Fluorosphere said, the Bush administration only knowing how to do Security Theater and not Security, simply reinforces the point made many years ago now about Bush: Sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.

  7. Regarding Obama and Secret Service coverage…this is interesting, because it’s a different assumption about the reason for their providing his security than I had made myself. When I first heard that Reid had requested Secret Service protection for Obama during the primary, I assumed that it was because Clinton was getting it already, and they were worried about the inequity – that her having a protective detail might make her look ‘more official’ and be (or be seen as) an inappropriate influence on how people perceived the candidates and their chances.

    It honestly hadn’t occurred to me that there was any worry about Obama being assassinated.

  8. Every once in a while I like to whip out my “You’re eating the inside of a cow” response. This is in response to the people that freak out about a hair on their hamburger. It’s another way of saying “look at the big picture.”

    There exist no magic bullets in our world. Few things work as well in this universe as we’d like to imagine them. People are fallible, natural disasters are beyond mankind’s absolute control, terrorists are as just smart as we are.

    I blame a little of it on the entertainment media, making movies about bad guys that can’t shoot straight, every government employee being part of a secret cabal intent on running the world clandestinely, every doctor seemingly divinely inspired to properly diagnose and cure each patient. I blame the rest on humans that since the dawn of mankind have attempted to distort reality to make their sufferings a little easier to bear.

    How does the above rantiness impact the topic at hand?

    I see hard working people, just like you or I, given a difficult job and doing it well. If I were to do that job, I’d want reconnaissance, I’d want local assistance, I’d want Obama’s staff to plan and give me sufficient time to filter the entire crowd and run background checks on every single attendee months in advance. Oh, and I’d not want the press to know of my plans for fear the bad guys would adapt.

    It’s not a perfect world however, and there are competing concerns involved, such as the embarrassment of small crowds at rallies, and the desire of the average attendee not wishing to arrive the night before to submit to a full cavity search.

    Others see an excuse to shed innuendo on a President/administration they already don’t like. I can only assume this makes them feel better in some way. They don’t achieve perfection themselves, but yet they expect it from their opponents.

    I see both good and bad in this administration, but looking at the big picture I see zero incompetence nor malice in this Secret Service story.

    One more analogy and I’ll be done. Leaving a bar one night in college, my buddy drove towards the flashing blue lights of a police checkpoint for drunk drivers. He pulled a U turn and was immediately arrested. I think it entirely conceivable that those seeking to enter this rally, that “pulled a U turn” would have been detained. It’s a bit naive to think that the general public is privy to all of their security measures. The policemen that spoke to the press should be smacked in the head for advertising to the world that Obama may be vulnerable. Way to encourage the lunatics that they have a chance. If they felt so strongly about security, they should have notified the authorities in charge.

    Shall I use innuendo now, and blame the cop for being a Bush hater that cares more about hating bush than about Obama’s life? No, I won’t go that far, he could have just been careless or thoughtless instead of malicious. In the big picture I realize there are other equally viable reasons they may have let this story go public.

  9. ker_thwap,

    A number of people who have professional experience with security, including several who have worked with Secret Service security personnel have said that the reported behavior is not competent security work, and that they do not believe the Secret Service would do such shoddy work without being ordered to do so.

    I have some experience with security, though not in personal protection, and I agree with this assessment. Whether this justifies imputing malice or intent rather than incompetence on the part of whoever gave the orders is another issue entirely. I’d guess that this is simply another case of security theater run amuck, but I know of no way to prove that.

    Whatever the case may be, it’s clear to me at least that the level of security Obama’s getting right now is insufficient. There will almost certainly be at least one attempt on his life during the election campaign; if it’s committed by a shrewd or intelligent nutbar, it could easily succeed against the level of security we’re seeing.

  10. There will almost certainly be at least one attempt on his life during the election campaign

    Do you say that because you think it’s inevitable that /any/ candidate will be attacked, that any opposition candidate will be attacked, or for reasons specific to Obama himself?

  11. America is armed to the teeth. Anyone who puts themselves in the public eye, paints a bullseye on. I suspect that Hillary and Obama are bigger targets because of race and gender. Sad but true.

  12. Obama is a special target because he’s black. There are a large number of aryan supremacist fruitbats in the US who are going to want to kill him; most of them have very poor impulse control. So the odds are good at least one is going to try.

  13. I went to a Hillary Clinton rally here in Seattle and I didn’t see anyone searching bags. (I got within 5 ft of her.) The secret service was there, cause they yelled at me when left out a back door and went behind the building. The next day at the Obama rally the building was more secure and they were checking bags. It would seem, generalizing from one example, that Obama had better security then Clinton.

  14. I’d just like to point out that I found it funny that in the Recent Comments panel on the right side of the page the top thingee says, “Skip on Firefly Novel.” I personally loved the novel, so I find this to be outrageous for such a thing to appear on Mr. Brusts’ very own homepage! (Sorry, Skip)

  15. I forget who said it, but I once heard something along the lines of, “For every action of a Japanese man, there are at least twelve different reasons for it.”

    It occurs to me that an *attempted* assassination of Obama would skyrocket his appeal to many. An *actual* assassination of Obama would be of benefit to an entirely different group. It also occurs to me that the last thing the Republicans would want is for Obama to be seen as a martyr of any kind.

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