Troubling Thought

December 14, 2008 5:32 p.m.

Like most of us, if I’m honest with myself, I really only know how Secret Service protection works from the movies or how, going on my own common sense, I figure it works. The folks who protect the president are professionals. So I want to be extremely tentative and cautious about second-guessing their work from a bit of news video that leaves many key details unanswered.

But watching the video of the Iraqi journalist throwing his shoes at President Bush, I could not help but notice that it took an uncomfortably long period of time for anyone to get to the assailant and, even more, much longer than I would have expected for anyone who looked like Secret Service to get to the president and block his body or get him out of harm’s way.

I guess the point here is that this was a very confined space. Presumably the Secret Service controlled access to the degree that they were confident there were no unauthorized weapons in the room. And they wouldn’t have to worry about someone with a gun at a greater distance. So they may have been less worried about jumping in front of the president, etc.

Maybe I’m just over-analyzing this. And obviously a president can’t be under lock and key at all moments, with Secret Service agents ready to throw him to the floor at a moment’s notice. But for an American president, any moment in Iraq has to be considered a very high risk situation. So it did make me wonder.

On a totally unrelated note, I was genuinely impressed by the president’s quick ducking response. In all seriousness, if you watch the video, the guy was extremely close to the president (maybe fifteen feet?). He threw the shoe very hard and very accurately. Given how out of the blue the whole bizarre incident was I think the reporter would have beaned most other folks in that situation.

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