The interesting thing isn’t that a Secret Service sex scandal is dominating the news. It’s that we suddenly care.
Richard Nixon’s apologists used to say that he did the same things previous presidents had done, but he was the only one castigated for doing them. The suddenly fired, resigned or retired Secret Service agents could say the same thing.
That doesn’t excuse what they did. It does, however, make you wonder why the government has tolerated such behavior for so long.
What should have been the biggest scandal took place in November of 1963. Secret Service agents, including ones who were supposed to be guarding President Kennedy’s hotel room in Ft. Worth, spent the night at “The Cellar,” a Ft. Worth club where the waitresses served drinks in their underwear. Some of them were out until 5 a.m. drinking alcohol, according to their own sworn statements.
One of them, agent Clint Hill, was the one running to catch up to the presidential limousine the next day after an assassin’s bullet tore through the president’s head.
Some of the agents had bragged to the club’s owner that they were out partying while the Ft. Worth Fire Department was left to guard the president.
The Secret Service launched an investigation but cleared all the agents, deciding their actions did not impair their judgment or reactions on that fateful day. There was little public outrage.
During a 2009 trip to Buenos Aires by former President Bill Clinton, his detail went out for a similar night of drinks and frivolity. The Washington Post quoted agents as saying the recent acts in Colombian were not without precedence.
One can only wonder how routine such behavior has become. Does this represent a culture among Secret Service agents?
If so, what would prevent a savvy enemy of the United States, or simply of the president, from plying an agent with liquor and sex to learn details of the president’s schedule (“What time are you working tomorrow, sugar? I want to be there to get a look at you.”)
The JFK incident has been retold in light of the current scandal, but mostly in places like Dallas, where people have a little better historical memory of that day. It was recounted by TV station WFAA. A video of the report is below.