Now I Understand

Stories like this one have been coming hot and heavy since the Columbia trip, undermining the idea that the Secret Service are buttoned-down professionals. It's hard to understand how an organization with such an institutional history could become so unglued.

Until, that is, you find out what else their job entails. Now it all seems clear.


douglas said...

First, I wonder if all the men who identified themselves as Secret Service agents actually were- posers are known to exist...

On the other hand, there seem to be way too many stories from verifiable sources (house rentals) that set a pattern. I did notice that the one hotel that is happy to have them and thinks it's o.k. for them to blow off steam (not to mention it leaves in each room a cooler of beers) has been happily hosting them since Clinton was in office. I guess fish really do rot from the head down.

Seriously, I see this as a continued pattern of a lack of professionalism and seriousness in pretty much the vast majority of men under the age of 50. Perpetual adolescence and living like you're in a beer commercial are actually accepted as 'normal', and apparently acceptable so long as you can also (usually) do your job. It's not that I don't think past generations of men didn't do things like party or carouse, it's just that they seemed to do it more responsibly.

I still don't get how it's o.k. for them to drink on these trips when 'off duty'. What if something like 9-11 were to happen again? They'd be on duty instantly- what if they're drunk or hung over right then? You'd think they were in an on-call state anytime they're on a trip, but apparently not.

I have to admit, even one of the posts at Blackfive dismissing the Colombia incident didn't leave me feeling real good about military culture in that regard, and this is probably an extension of that. What's so hard about being discreet and saving it for a more appropriate time if you can't stay on the straight and narrow? I don't think that's asking too much.

Or perhaps I'm just clueless on all of this.

Texan99 said...

A neighbor with a military background from the 60s says that stories of this kind of behavior was the generally accepted reputation of the Secret Service back then, whenever they were overseas.

Grim said...

Well, the thing is, if you're going to put people under absolutely tight discipline for a long time, you need to make sure that there is an 'appropriate time and place' for them to unwind.

I interviewed with the Secret Service back when I was younger. The assistant special agent in charge who interviewed me told me that he didn't think I was right for the job, because I didn't strike him as the sort of person who would enjoy a life spent standing in a stairwell for eight hours at a time.

Which judgment was doubtless correct! I would do whatever my duty required, of course, but he was probably right to spare me a duty that I would have found onerous. The job is quite difficult; and when you add in the dealing with of imperious sorts, and the endless patience and forbearance they have to show, occasional outbursts in what they take to be 'in private' seem more understandable to me.