Thursday, December 17, 2015

Secrets of the Secret Service

I just finished reading "The First Family Detail" by Ronald Kessler which provides a behind the scenes look at what our "First Families" are really like when the public is not watching and the cameras are not rolling.

Over the years Kessler has been an investigative reporter for both The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post and has developed some impressive sources inside the FBI, Secret Service and CIA.

What surprised me a little in reading this book was the fact that a number of his sources in the book were "on the record" when talking about what they saw and experienced. Of course, this generally was the case with those who were retired and the Presidential families were long out of office. These included Secret Service agents, ushers in the White House and personnel who worked on Air Force One.

There was very little mentioned about President Obama and his family. Generally, the agents like Barack and Michelle because they treat them with respect. They try to stay on schedule and generally do not do things that are going to complicate the lives of the agents. They also think his daughters are respectable and good kids.

On the other hand, Kessler reports through his sources that "agents have been dismayed to overhear Michelle Obama push her husband to be more aggressive in attacking Republicans and to side with blacks in racial controversies." (e.g. Trayvon Martin, Cambridge, MA police, Ferguson).

In listening to their talk in the presidential limousine, "Michelle's agenda goes back to when she said about her husband running for president, "For the first time in my adult life-time, I am really proud of my country,'" a former agent says.

The agents are not so kind to Vice President Joe Biden.

Vice President Joe Biden may seek to project the image of a regular Joe, friend of the workingman, but Secret Service agents know a different Joe. That Joe champions cutting government waste while spending a million dollars on personal trips back and forth to his home in Delaware at taxpayer expense.

Kessler found through Air Force records that in just the first four years of Biden's term the trips between Washington and Wilmington, DE (a distance of about 100 miles) on Air Force Two cost taxpayers $979,680 for fuel and maintenance alone.

Many weekends Biden flies to Wilmington on Friday and then flies back to Washington to play golf with President Obama and then flies back again on Saturday afternoon. The agents just cannot believe the total disregard of taxpayer money that Biden displays.

Biden is personally liked by the agents but he is also infamous for changing his schedule on the spur of the moment which puts enormous strains on the agents. Many of these schedule changes are last minute decisions to return to his personal home in Delaware.  As a result, the Secret Service rents more than 20 condominiums near his home in Delaware so they have contingency arrangements for his security.

Joe Biden is a saint compared to Hillary Clinton. Agents say that being on Hillary's detail is the worst assignment in the Secret Service.

When in public, Hillary smiles and acts graciously. As soon as the cameras are gone, her angry personality, nastiness, and imperiousness becomes evident. 

The book is replete with stories from the agents about Hillary that make it clear that she is not going to get many votes from those on her protective detail.

On the other hand, the agents liked Bill Clinton but he drove them crazy in that he was always late for everything. The agents called it "Clinton Standard Time."

Of course, the agents had a front row seat on Bill's womanizing. It is something he continues today with a woman that he often sees whenever Hillary is out of town that has her own Secret Service code name-Energizer-who is described as an attractive soccer mom who lives near the Clintons in Chappaqua, New York.

Chelsea Clinton got very high marks from the agents.

It's kind of funny, as dysfunctional as the Clintons are, Chelsea is the best, another agent said.

Who are some of the other First Families that the Secret Service respected and liked?

Ronald Reagan (Very nice guy who was always considerate and the same in private as in public)

George Herbert Walker Bush and Barbara Bush (Class acts. Extremely thoughtful and considerate)

George W. Bush and Laura Bush (Both very highly thought of. Laura was loved by the agents)

Lady Bird Johnson (Gracious and respectful of the agents. Exact opposite of her husband.)

Who are those that had the agents questioning the wisdom of the American voter?

Lyndon Johnson ("If he hadn't been President, he would have been in an insane asylum.")

Richard Nixon ( "One of the country's strangest Presidents")

Jimmy Carter (A complete phony. Very short and rude most of the time.)

Al Gore (Treated agents with disdain. A complete fake.)

Nancy Reagan (Very cold, aloof and demanding.)

You might have seen in the news that President Obama is leaving tomorrow for Hawaii on vacation for the rest of the year. It is nice that he can spend the holidays with his family in the Aloha State. However, it also means that every Secret Service agent on his detail and all the other people that support the President will be away from their families.

You want to know one the reasons that the Bush's were so well liked by the Secret Service?

They always stayed in Washington through Christmas.


Because they did not want all the people that would have to travel with them to be away from their own families for Christmas.  They planned their holiday travels after Christmas.  They thought more about others than they did about themselves.

You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”—Malcolm S. Forbes.

A good test to consider in evaluating Presidential candidates this year?

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