Political Party Crashers
The recent antics of Tareq and Michaele Salahi, the "White House party crashers, have critics loving to hate them, but most distressing are those self-proclaimed lovers of democracy who want them behind bars.
Ed Rollins, a past chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a CNN opinion piece, "This despicable, desperate, duplicitous couple disgraced the Secret Service and embarrassed the president in his home." Well, Mr. Rollins? Shouldn't the Secret Service be embarrassed? The couple was granted entrance to a private state dinner honoring Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, although their names were not on the guest list.
Ed Donovan, Secret Service spokesman, said "a checkpoint did not follow proper procedures to ensure the two were on the guest list," according to The Huffington Post. That means that the Salahis did not dig underground tunnels or don camouflage gear in order to crash the dinner. They were granted access. The security breach that occurred was the fault of the White House, a fact to which Secret Service has already conceded. Why then, are Americans still so incensed?
On CNN's "Soundoff," an online public forum, contributor "Lowelllady" said of the Salahi's stunt, "They trespassed, they lied, they could have been anyone." "Lowelllady's" fear is at the heart of America's ire: "They could have been anyone." It is scary to imagine that another pretty face gracing the floor of the White House could have belonged to a terrorist. It is unnerving to think that the attention spurred by this spectacle becomes a blaring bullhorn informing extremists that America's security isn't as airtight as we thought.
But let's get three things straight:
The Obama's dinner attendees were never in danger of being assaulted by automatic weapons or shoe bombs. Although the couple slipped by the first security checkpoint, which allowed the uninvited guests to enter, the Salahis were screened by metal detectors like everyone else, Donovan told the Los Angeles Times. The most dangerous thing the Salahis brought to the party was a camera, which would endanger reputations, not lives. As far as protecting the welfare of the President, the security process was successful.
The Salahis were not a couple of nobodies; they stylishly fit into the scene of nearly 300 distinguished guests. Tareq wore a tuxedo and Michaele wore a red sari, reported The Los Angeles Times. "They looked like the perfect Washington couple." The New York Daily News describes the Salahis as "polo-playing socialites." The wife, Michaele Salahi, is a former Redskins cheerleader and the northern Virginia couple was hoping to stir their reputation so that they might be contenders for Bravo's reality T.V. series, "Real Housewives."
In fact, the Salahis had already met Obama. A photograph taken at a televised fashion show had Tareq and Michaele posing with Randy Jackson, the Black Eyed Peas and President Obama. The photo was taken in May at the DC Fashion & Polo Weekend, which the Salahis helped organize. The Salahis' reputation was frivolous, but it would not have been surprising if their names had been on the guest list; they were part of the vapid Washington elite.
Lastly, if there was a crack in the security process; a lazy guard, a rookie just learning protocol, a glitch in the program controlling the guest list, shouldn't we be thanking the Salahis for alerting Secret Service of this issue before an actual threat presented itself? The Salahis were irreverent and brazen in their quest for fame, but not dangerous. They did the White House a favor by ensuring that this will not happen again.
Americans seem to be losing two great assets: humility and a sense of humor. The White House crashers outsmarted the Secret Service, they showed us the holes in our system and are now being scapegoated for a nationally low morale that has nothing to do with them. Americans need to stop being so darned angry all the time, trying to find someone to blame for our country's shortcomings. Michaele and Tareq Salahi didn't threaten people with weapons or decry democracy with tear gas and shouts of protest; they demurely shook hands with the President and partied it up with some dignitaries and world leaders. It's time to laugh it off and get over it.