Obama and his White House security *UPDATED*

Being a police or other type of security officer is, by definition, a risky job.  It’s entirely possible to find oneself in a low risk situation, such as the town in which I live.  Crimes here tend to revolve around shoplifting, speeding, vandalism, etc.  I know of several young officers (and fire fighters) who sought assignments elsewhere because it was just too boring.

Other venues provide more excitement.  Being a police officer in South Central LA or the South Side of Chicago, for example, is a wild adrenalin ride, filled with daily threats to the average officer’s health and well being.  You need to be brave, committed, and perhaps a little crazy to take on a job like that willingly.

There’s one job, though, that’s quite unique in the dangers it offers.  That job, of course, is guarding the President of the United States.  You get to travel to exciting places and see amazing things, but you’re also responsible for one of the biggest targets in the world.  The threats come from crazy individuals and whacked-out organizations.  You are constantly on guard.  It is your job to ensure that no one can get near the man at the top.  More than that, if they do get near, you willingly interpose your body between the president and the killer.

A perfect example of the self-sacrifice required for the job is the assassination attempt on President Reagan.  When shots rang out, the President’s secret service agents instantly interposed their bodies — which are just as vulnerable as the President’s — between Reagan and the bullets:

In other words, people on the White House security detail are willing to die to protect their employer.  These are passionate, committed, brave (and maybe a little crazy) individuals.  (Lee Child gives a good insight into the efforts secret service agents make, and the risks they take, in Without Fail.)

Given the caliber of people surrounding the President, and the sacrifices they are willing to make on a daily basis, I cannot come to grips with the insult Obama offered them as part of his foolish decision to wade into the public battle between Henry Louis Gates and the Boston Police Department (emphasis mine):

“I don’t know – not having been there and not seeing all the facts – what role race played in that, but I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two that he Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home,” Obama said in response to a question from the Chicago Sun-Times’s Lynn Sweet.

Gates, Obama allowed, “is a friend, so I may be a little biased here. I don’t know all the facts.”

However Gates, he continued, “jimmied his way to get into [his own] house.”

“There was a report called in to the police station that there might be a burglary taking place – so far so good,” Obama said, reflecting that he’d hope the police were called if he were seen breaking into his own house, then pausing.

“I guess this is my house now,” he remarked of the White House. “Here I’d get shot.”

Let me rephrase that.  What Obama just said is that, if he for some reason was in the wrong place in the White House, or in the right place at the wrong time, White House security would shoot him.  Let me dig down into that a little deeper:  “I, Barack Obama, think it’s funny and self-deprecatory to state that the security people who surround me, the ones who have taken on the job of protecting the world’s biggest targets, are racists who would willingly shoot me because I am a black man in a fancy house.”

And its no use defending that statement by saying that Obama was likening himself to just any homeowner, as opposed to a black one.  Gates made it very clear, and Obama, who was defending Gates, must have understood, that the pressure the police put on Gates was solely because he was black.  Indeed, from the minute the officers arrived, Gates used his race as the justification for refusing to cooperate, thereby escalating the situation.  With this manifest racial context, Obama could only have been saying that a black man in the White House is a natural target for security forces.

Frankly, if I were in the Secret Service, I would have second thoughts about holding a job that requires me to throw myself in front of a bullet to protect an employer who thinks so little of me that, as a joke, he implies that I would casually pull the trigger and shoot him just because he’s black.

UPDATE:  One of my email correspondents thinks that Obama meant that anyone breaking into the White House would get shot, not just a black man.  But I think context is king here.  This whole thing became an issue, not because it was a Harvard professor who was arrested, but because it was a black Harvard professor who was arrested.  Further, this same black Harvard professor cried race from the start, not just at the scene of the incident, but afterward.  The whole media circus was because Gates claimed the cops treated him badly as a black man.

Further, Gates was not shot, nor is there any intimation that he was ever at risk of being shot.  Indeed, I have to wrack my brain and I still can’t think of a situation in which cops got a report of a homeowner trying to get into the house, knocked on the door, talked to the homeowner and then shot him by mistake.

And the last thing is that Obama is defined, in his own eyes, and in the eyes of the public, as a black man in the White House.  He campaigned as a post-racial candidate, but that’s not how he ran the race.  It was all about his being the first black president.  Everything was framed in that light.  That’s why guilt-ridden liberals voted for him, that’s why blacks voted for him, that’s why Europeans liked him, that’s why the press adored him, and that’s how he defined himself (and this last is not unreasonable given that he is, in fact, black).

When he talks about getting shot breaking into his house, Obama, the narcissist, is not talking about the risks to just anyone of breaking into the White House.  He’s talking about himself, Obama, breaking into a house.  It is he who would get shot — and he is black.

UPDATE II:  Just to emphasize my point that, regardless of the subject, in Obama’s mind, it’s always all about himself.

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  • Lulu11

    I don’t know what he was saying and I’m not sure he does either. Maybe that if you are trying to break-in to the White House it’s shoot first, question later? Or maybe the above. The man is completely lost without his teleprompter.
    It is interesting to see that THIS is the issue that upsets people- not his bankrupting our country or turning it into a socialist experiment, or being on the side of Chavez and Castro re Honduras, or being indifferent to the Iranian struggle for freedom, or his more “even-handed” approach to Israel. People are angry because they thought his election would be the end of race-baiting and our post-racial pres is fanning the flames so blatantly.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm


    You’re on to something important. This matters, because so many Americans voted for Obama based on image alone. He was the black man who would bring us all together. As to the other issues, they just had a sort of blind faith that “the government” would protect us. Also, although many professed to hate Bush-the-man, most agreed with his policies, and refused to accept that the post-racial president would abandon those same policies.

    In other words, the only thing that drove them was his image as a post-racial candidate, and he blew that image to pieces last night. For many people, there’s nothing left. They haven’t yet thought about the larger implications of his president, but they know they’ve been lied to and cheated.

  • BrianE

    “I guess this is my house now,” he remarked of the White House. “Here I’d get shot.”
    I’ll give the president the benefit of the doubt that he wasn’t saying the Secret Service would shoot him because he is black, but that they would shoot any intruder.
    Given his interjection of race, it’s not entirely clear.

  • Deana

    I, too, was shocked that he said that last night. And I noticed that few people discussed it today.

    I’d love to know what the Secret Service think of what he said . . .

  • Tonestaple

    It seems like a lifetime ago when I joined a small protest outside a hotel where John Kerry was appearing at a fund-raising dinner – $1,000 a plate I think it was. He had his Secret Service protection with him, of course, and when one of them came out for a break, we asked him about protecting someone he might personally not want to have anything to do with. Secret Service agents, all of whom are much much better people than me, focus on protecting the office. What they do has nothing to do with the individual occupying the office – he’s temporary – it’s all about The Office.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    Way to go narcissist in chief.

  • benning

    It’s so nice to be living in Obama’s ‘Post-Racial’ America.


    So nice.


  • Mike Devx

    Another slip of the mask!

    This slip is along the lines of we bitter clingers clinging to our guns and our Bibles.
    He’s speaking to one group of people when one of those condescending thoughts pops into his head about people belonging to another group… and out that thought comes. Bam! An unexpected insult to the White House Security officers who work for him. And this one wasn’t surreptitiously taped, it was wide-open live and broadcast! Wow.

    Can you imagine if your own boss had done this to you? In my software industry:

    Boss at the podium, announcing a new product to the gathered media: He laughs as he brings the product up on the big screen. “My software people are so incompetent and stupid… I bet this thing crashes within seconds. Well, here goes. Enjoy it til the big crash, boys!”

    He’d have killed my enthusiasm for delivering that product for him! I wouldn’t be quite so happy about the long hours and sacrifices involved in producing the quality product that are always required.

  • Danny Lemieux

    I suppose that it goes with being a narcissist that Obama should show exhibit such little self awareness, but it is a bit frightening to see it in an adult with so much power at his fingertips. His is a childish, undisciplined mind totally ungrounded by wisdom that will continue to get him and us into trouble.

    This is what 53% of Americans voted for as their primal scream of rebellion against adulthood and the hard facts of living in a difficult and dangerous world. In recalling his campaign statement that “I know that I have the temperament to be President”, I truly do believe that Obama had convinced himself that being President was simply a matter of stage craft. Now people are beginning to see him as a crass, low-level street hustler with little to no depth of wisdom or character and an enormous chip on his shoulder. Now is the time to pray that those checks and balances hold up under great strain.

  • colorless.blue.ideas

    Let me focus on the attempt at humor, “Here I’d get shot”, since I pretty much agree with the rest of the analysis regarding Obama’s racialism and narcissism.

    I guess that most people would know that guarding the President is somewhat akin to guarding nuclear weapons, in that deadly force is authorized a bit earlier (shall we say) than in most types of guard duty. I would guess that someone breaking into the White House would get shot quite readily if otherwise there was much danger of the intruder getting within suicide-vest range of any of the Obamas.

    The reality is that the protective detail would likely be very professional about it, and would not automatically shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later. However, as a deterrent to attacks, creating the impression–even with a joke–that anyone even trying to break into the White House would get shot, well, that’s not such a bad thing. While I suspect that Obama didn’t really think things through (and his intentions were much as indicated in the above post and discussion), I don’t think the protective detail would be upset that the bad guys might think them to be a bit more trigger-happy than they actually are. Deterrence: it isn’t just about nuclear weapons anymore. :-)

  • http://lookingforlissa.wordpress.com lookingforlissa

    I’m with Lulu on this one — I’m willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt and assume he meant only that intruders in the White House would be shot if found threatening by the police.

    That being said — it’s still awful. To joke about the people who are willing to die to save you — to joke that they would shoot you — is to dishonor them.

    I guess I’d crop your last sentence to read “I would have second thoughts about holding a job that requires me to throw myself in front of a bullet to protect an employer who thinks so little of me that, as a joke, he implies that I would casually pull the trigger and shoot him.”

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    I don’t think the protective detail would be upset that the bad guys might think them to be a bit more trigger-happy than they actually are.

    That deterrence only applies to black people, however. Which means the Islamic terrorists just got 10% better recruitment in jails amongst blacks.

    That’s not deterrence. That’s just more Islamic terror network cannonfodder.

  • BrianE

    I have to give the benefit of the doubt to the President that he wasn’t making a joke about the Secret Service being racists.
    It is unthinkable that a President of the United States would be that thoughtless. Then again, he’s young. He sat in a church (or so he says) for 20 years where those kinds of comments weren’t the throw away line in a joke.
    There are a few alternatives. We might conclude this was a lame joke like John McCain’s “bomb, bomb… bomb, Iraaannnn….”.
    The more cynical might conclude we’re going to get 3-1/2 more years of this, where the folks that voted for the black man proving how liberal minded they were will point to the other half of the country, thinking “yah, he’s describing them to a T”!


    “I guess this is my house now,” he remarked of the White House. “Here I’d get shot.”

    This was not a remark. It was a smug reference to where he resides.

    It’s bad enough when Biden opens his mouth and nonsense falls out of it.
    We join the chorus of ‘it’s Joe’, but when POTUS/NOTUS interjects himself into the center of a racial and socially charged atmosphere – it’s more than an off-colored comment.
    What we see and hear is the influence of Rev. Wright.
    Wright may be out of the picture, but his protege is now the ‘man’.

  • http://home.earthlink.net/~nooriginalthought/ Charles

    “I guess this is my house now . . .”

    I guess no one has told the ” narcissist in chief” (I like that Ymarsakar!) that it is NOT his house.

    He is a tenent, not an owner.

    Obama, and every president, resides there with the permission of the American voting public. He is a GUEST at OUR White House. But, I guess, it would be too much to expect him to act like one.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    Indeed. It is not anymore his ‘house’ than the Presidency is his office. He belongs to the office, not the other way around. Just as he serves the US Constitution, not the other way around. What is superior or inferior in the hierarchy of power is designated by authority and where it comes from. Authority comes from the United States Constitution, and above that God, it does not come from his office, his election, or the fact that he is currently in the White House.

    He cannot own the White House because the White House is never his. It was given to him, on loan, by the US fing Constitution.

    And He Does Not Own the US Constitution nor the authority that is, by right, its to give.

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