Letter: Protecting president our job
Published 11:54 am, Friday, August 10, 2012
I was among the crowd who attended the Obama fundraiser in Stamford this week. We had been directed to appear hours before the president was to speak. As I stood on line outside the hotel entrance, I was thankful it was a lovely night and that the oppressive heat of the prior days had broken.
We were in the eye of a massive security lockdown. The hotel garage was shuttered. We were directed to park our car blocks away. As we waited to go through security, young campaign workers checked photo ID's and stamped our hands. As the line started to move, we were ushered through checkpoints every bit as rigorous as any TSA manned airport security line or courthouse in the country.
I looked up at the surrounding buildings. While no New York or Boston, Stamford has its fair share of high rise structures. I noted how many of them had an unobstructed view of the hotel entrance. Is this the way the president would enter? I thought momentarily of the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas and wondered if any of the buildings offered the same opportunity for a lone gunman that Lee Harvey Oswald had one fateful day. I looked again at the entrance and flashed back to a Washington Hilton passageway where John Hinckley unloaded a handgun into the chest of Ronald Reagan. I looked back at the shuttered garage, and thought of 1993, when a bomb planted in a van by Islamic terrorists almost took down a World Trade Tower years before 9/11.
I've read the angry comments by some of our neighbors about the closing of Sherwood Island and the costs incurred during the Obama visit. Yeah, I feel lousy about it, too. I feel lousy that any presidential candidate, of either party, has to spend more time at fundraisers than at open public forums. I even feel lousy for any president who has to give up almost every shred of privacy to live in a smothering cocoon of Secret Service protection forced upon him by those charged by law with protecting him.
Love him or loathe him, Barack Obama is the President of the United States. How many more national traumas can we afford? And, what I ask, is the material distinction between a private visit and a public event? What if Harvey Weinstein had simply invited the President and his family to use his home as a summer getaway spot? Didn't the Secret Service receive the assistance of local police on Martha's Vineyard for the Clintons' or Kennebunkport for George H.W. Bush's?
Even in his private moments, the president by virtue of his office is afforded the protection of the Secret Service. And so, by the way, is the Republican candidate. And, oh, I bet if you look carefully at a video of Mr. Romney attending a private event sometime in the future, you'll see local police assisting the Secret Service detailed with protecting him. He deserves it. And so do we.