Servicing the Service

On the news, they’re calling it “the biggest scandal in Secret Service history.”  And I guess they’re right.  Name one other scandal in Secret Service history.  It’s kind of like saying “Oops, I Did It Again” is the best song Britney Spears ever sang.

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word scandal, I think Watergate, Iran-Contra, or wearing white shoes after Labor Day.  I think about something illegal or shameful.

At first, I thought that’s what this was—as many as 11 Secret Service agents stationed in Colombia hiring prostitutes the night before the President’s arrival.  When the news first broke, it sounded kind of juicy.  And god knows the TV news squeezed every last bit of juice out of it.

Until the end of the story, when the reporter I was watching very casually mentioned—as an aside—that prostitution is legal in Colombia.

It turns out that the agents weren’t breaking the law, after all.  But that didn’t stop the media or the pundits or the Republicans from having a field day.  Talk about your rush to judgment:  the word scandal was all over this thing from the get-go.  Because scandals, you see, get big ratings.  And in the era of “death panels” and “pro-life” people hungering for capital punishment, the word scandal is enough:  the reality isn’t necessary.

Scandals give you license to butt into other people’s business.  Scandals give you the right to see the cum stain on a Gap dress and half-naked photographs of an unfortunately named politician.

Speaking of politicians, Congressman Peter King (R-Of Course), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, was heard to speculate the other day on whether any of the agents involved were married.  And that’s relevant how, Mr. Congressman?  The last I heard, adultery wasn’t even illegal in the puritanical United States, let alone Latin America.

It seems to me that the agents were simply following the lead of thousands of tourists who travel to Amsterdam and Nevada every day:  they took advantage of something that was available to them, something they can’t access at home.  When in Cartagena …

It turns out that what the agents are actually guilty of is “misconduct”—i.e., breaking the rules of the Secret Service.  They’re in that beleaguered class of people—including politicians, schoolteachers, and professional golfers—who are held to a “higher standard.”  And that higher standard means that they’re unable to do things that are completely legal but distasteful to whoever it is among us who decides what’s distasteful.

By the way, have you seen these guys, with their pumped bodies in those dark suits?  The only scandal I can see is that anybody would make them pay for it.