April 17 2012
Much as it pains me to disagree with Charlotte Hays in my first Inkwell post, I don’t think that morality has much to do with the scandal of Secret Service agents buying prostitutes in Columbia. (For the record, I’m no fan of prostitution, and I oppose legalizing it. But that’s a different discussion.) Having done a tour in Pentagon, and worked in war zones, I’d say that the idea that a bunch of military officers or Secret Service agents decided to indulge is … not shocking. It is routine. It may be an ugly reality, but prostitution flourishes near overseas military bases, and in ports where ships dock. Access to hookers is a frequent consideration when military leaders choose sites for R&R. Especially when soldiers are serving in places like Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan, where strict local moral codes keep our boys segregated from the population. Given the realities of human behavior, I guess I’d prefer that young men far from home find willing professionals than look to their female colleagues for sex.
To be sure, Charlotte is right to say that General Dempsey’s “sorry we let the boss down,” is a little flat. But those remarks are for public consumption. I will bet that heads roll in all the commands involved.
The real problem that this episode highlights is a serious lack of discipline among Secret Service agents. Some claim that that has been the case for a while, and that the service is resting on its reputation. Maybe. But I’d bet there are morale issues involved having to do with the culture clash between the Secret Service, and the current White House occupants whom they are sworn to defend with their lives. Stay tuned as the facts start dribbling out.
As for that astonishing series of pictures of Hillary Clinton looking increasing drunk and sloppy in a disco in Cartagena – whoa. There goes her claim to being ready for the 3 a.m. call. Sure, she’s entitled to drink. But in an age of cell phone cameras and instagram – best do it behind closed doors. Of course you never know. In our culture, maybe a ‘party girl’ image will help the all too sober 64 year old Secretary of State’s image with her base.
Lisa Schiffren is a speechwriter living in New York.