Maybe the country should have expected that President Barack Obama’s first State Dinner would not pass without notice. Few could have guessed, however, that Tuesday, Nov 23 would mark yet another sensational incident in the president’s political career.
Within hours of their attendance, Michaele and Tareq Salahi’s notorious party crashing of the White House State Dinner achieved national media spotlight, sending shockwaves across the country equivalent to public’s reaction in December 2008 when an Iraqi journalist hurled a shoe at President Bush.
As of yet, public opinion seems to be split between either being appalled by the audacity of the infamous pair or being surprised by the ineptitude of the Secret Service.
In general, news debates examining the event have labeled this latest occurrence as a glorified publicity stunt.
The Secret Service has offered more commentary this past Thanksgiving week than it has all year as the agency rushed to reassure the public that the Secret Service is on top of the situation.
In light of the startling exploit, America seems to have forgotten that this is not the first the White House has entertained uninvited guests by mistake.
On Saturday, Nov 28, 2009 CNN anchor Don Lemon interviewed Scott Alswang, a 20 year veteran of the Secret Service who participated in the protection of four presidents. During the interview, Alswang admitted that during George W. H. Bush’s presidency individuals would attach themselves to an invited to group to get into an event.
Though he wasn’t certain, Alswang revealed that, at one point, this “early goings on of social engineering” occurred twice by the same individual.
Ironically, the Salahis recently declined the House Homeland Security Commission’s invitation to Congress on Dec 3. Following the couple’s absence from the Thursday hearings, Congress has hinted towards subpoenaing the Salahis to obtain their testimony on the White House security breach.
The official subpoena has yet to be issued.
So while, politicians and the media debate the prosecution and legality of sneaking into a White House event, I have only one question: Why does it matter?
News reports describe the couple passing through metal detectors, being announced by a Marine at the entrance, posing for pictures, shaking hands with the President and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and mingling around the room.
The media did not, however, mention any bomb threats, glistening knives, or every an errant dress shoe flying across the room.
Be thankful that no one was harmed, that the Secret Service discovered their mistake, and that this stunt will probably not earn the Salahis the reality show they aspire for.
Whether you believe it was a ploy for the limelight or that the Salahis merely wanted to attend a presidential State Dinner, we can all agree that they’ve acquired what they wanted. They slipped in, they socialized, and they left with no one the wiser.
The minute Michaele and Tareq Salahi were off the White House’s front lawn, any potential threat they posed left with them. The only question left to ask now is what America hopes to gain by searching for a deeper meaning in a shallow exploit.