The Magazine

Secret Disservice

Aug 4, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 44 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Last week, while Israel, Gaza, Ukraine, Iraq, and Syria burned, and the immigration crisis intensified along the Texas-Mexico border, President Obama was hard at work for two days in Los Angeles raising funds for the Democratic party. 

Secret Service

AP Images

That’s one problem with this picture—and indeed, it’s a larger problem than The Scrapbook will deal with here. But the other problem—the virtual shutdown of Los Angeles and nearby Hollywood/Beverly Hills for Obama’s motorcades—is one The Scrapbook would like to address. Especially since a brief video went viral last week showing a woman in labor being prevented from crossing the street to enter Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to give birth. The reason? The Secret Service directed that one of the city’s main east-west thoroughfares, which passes in front of Cedars-Sinai, be cordoned off (for 30 minutes!) by Los Angeles police while Obama whizzed by to dine with bundlers. For the Secret Service, it was just another day at the office, so to speak.

Yes, The Scrapbook is happy to stipulate that presidents are leaders of their respective political parties and, in a dangerous world, that high-ranking public officials require protection. But as we’ve noted before, the instinct of the modern Secret Service is not so much to protect the life of the president (and his family and colleagues) as to insulate him from the American public. As a consequence, when Obama or Joe Biden or Valerie Jarrett moves around Washington, large segments of the nation’s capital are under police siege; and likewise when they’re on the road, cities like New York or Los Angeles can be paralyzed.

Secret Service agents and LAPD officers are very good at obeying orders. But the occasional exercise of common sense should be a job requirement as well. It is not just cruel and inconsiderate to prevent a woman in labor from entering a hospital to give birth; it is foolish as well, for it raises public anger at security agencies and undermines support for public officials the police and Secret Service are “protecting.” 

Would it have been too much to allow the woman in question to cross the street and get the medical attention she desperately needed? Apparently so.

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 18 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers