Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) has received Secret Service protection a bit early in his presidential campaign. Normally only those whose names are actually going to be on a presidential ballot get protection [UPDATE: a bipartisan House leadership committee decides]. Notice how the Chicago Tribune reporter leads off her story (emphasis mine):
WASHINGTON -- Although Sen. Barack Obama has been drawing enormous crowds and intense attention during his presidential campaign, friends say he has resisted the idea of a U.S. Secret Service detail for fear it would limit what has been a great part of his appeal, namely his ability to make a close connection with voters.
But those reservations gave way to security concerns on Thursday, when the Secret Service assigned a team to the Illinois Democrat — the earliest point in a campaign cycle at which the agency has ever taken responsibility for a candidate not already under its protection as an office holder.
It's just fine for Obama to get Secret Service protection. We're a rich country, and surely we can afford a few measly million to protect the Senator while he's a candidate. I don't begrudge anyone the safety of life and limb.
According to the Tribune article, it was Dick Durban (D-IL) who told Harry Reid about the size of crowds Obama is seeing, and showed Reid some unspecified "other material". Now, presumably this was not illicit real estate development information, but something related to the Obama campaign. Where did Durbin get the material? From the Obama campaign, that's where.
Obama and Durbin thought it would be a good move to do it now, to play on the sympathy vote, and to play the race card without playing it. After all, if anyone accuses Obama of not really needing Secret Service protection, he can trot out the hateful letters he's probably gotten, and point to veiled threats on web sites. I haven't seen any such threats, but I haven't looked. I'll stipulate that the threat is real.
But why the subterfuge? Because it wouldn't look good at all, that's why.
Obama, looking to save money by having the taxpayers fund his security while at the same time playing the brave speaker of truth to power, would not have given the materials to Durbin without a reason. The only reason to do it is to get his friend and fellow Senator , the number two man in the Senate, to do it for him. If he were to have gone to Reid personally, Obama would have looked like a wimp who's overreacting to hate mail and anonymous bloggers.
The bipartisan Congressional panel which authorizes the Secret Service protection was unanimous: none of them wanted to vote against protecting Obama. Good for them.
But shame on Barack Obama for not being honest about it.
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