For a half-century, Republicans have been damning the very government they lust to control.
Consider this choice comment from Mitt Romney supporter Ted Nugent:
“I spoke at the NRA and will stand by my speech. It’s 100 percent positive. It’s about we the people taking back our American dream from the corrupt monsters in the federal government under this administration, the communist czars he [President Barack Obama] has appointed.”
Romney, of course, refused to disavow the slander Nugent cast over every man and woman working on behalf of the American people.
Romney and his fellow Republicans salivate at every vile charge they can hurl at the very government they lust to control.
As in the case of Senator Joseph McCarthy, no slander is too great if it advances their path to power.
But there are others–living or at least working in Washington, D.C.–who simply go about their jobs with quiet dedication. And they leave slanderous, self-glorifying rhetoric to Right-wing politicians.
One of these unsung heroes was Stephen Tyrone Johns, a security guard at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
On June 10, 2009, Johns, 39, was shot and killed by James Wenneker von Brunn, a white supremist and Holocaust denier. Brunn was himself shot and wounded by two other security guards who returned fire.
While in jail awaiting his trial, von Brunn–who was 88–died on January 6, 2010.
To work in Washington, D.C., is to realize that this city ranks–with New York City–at the top of Al Qaeda’s list of targets.
No one knows this better than the agents of the United States Secret Service, who protect the President, Vice President, their families and the White House itself 24 hours a day.
Prior to 9/11, visiting the White House was assumed to be an American right. No longer.
Today, if you want to tour the Executive Mansion, you quickly learn there are only two ways to get in:
- Through a special pass provided by your Congressman; or
- By someone connected with the incumbent administration.
Congressmen, however, have a limited number of passes to give out. And most of these go to people who have put serious money into the Congressman’s re-election campaigns.
And the odds that you’ll know someone who works in the White House–and who’s willing to offer you an invitation–are even smaller than those of knowing a Congressman.
But even that isn’t enough to get you through the White House door.
You’ll have to undergo a Secret Service background check. And that requires you to submit the following information in advance of your visit:
- Date of birth
- Social Security Number
And be prepared to leave a great many items at your hotel room. Among these:
- Cameras or video recorders
- Handbags, book bags, backpacks or purses
- Food or beverages, tobacco products, personal grooming items (i.e. makeup, lotion, etc.)
- Cell phones
- Any pointed objects
- Aerosol containers
- Guns, ammunition, fireworks, electric stun guns, mace, martial arts weapons/devices, or knives of any size
Visitors enter the White House–after showing a government-issued ID card such as a driver’s license–from the south side of East Executive Avenue.
After passing through the security screening room, they walk upstairs to the first door and through the East, Green, Blue, Red and State Dining rooms.
Secret Service agents quietly stand post in every room–unless they’re tasked with explaining the illustrious history of each section of the White House.
Like everyone else who lives/works there, the Secret Service fully appreciates the incredible sense of history that radiates throughout the building.
This is where
- Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclomation;
- Franklin Roosevelt directed the United States to victory in World War II;
- John F. Kennedy stared down the Soviets during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
But even the generally unsmiling Secret Service agents have their human side.
While touring the East Wing of the White House, I asked an agent: “Is the East Room where President Nixon gave his farewell speech?” on August 9, 1974.
“I haven’t been programmed for that information,” the agent joked, inviting me to ask a question he could answer.
Another guest asked the same agent if he enjoyed being a Secret Serviceman.
To my surprise, he said that this was simply what he did for a living. His real passion, he said, was counseling youths.
“If you love something,” he advised, “get a job where you can do it. And if you can’t get a job you’re passionate about, get a job so you can pursue your passion.”
Of the more than 2.65 million civilian employees of the executive branch, more than 800,000 have been sent home without pay.
These men and women aren’t faceless “bureaucrats,” as Right-wingers would have people believe. They are hustands and wives, fathers and mothers. They have bills to pay, just like everyone else.
Many of them, such as agents of the FBI and Secret Service, have taken an oath to defend the United States Constitution–with their lives if necessary.
And they now face the dread of going for weeks or even months without a paycheck–as pawns in another Right-wing case of: “My way or no way.”
They deserve a better break–and so do all those who cherish liberty.