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Old 10-15-2009, 09:05 PM   #1
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Default A Secret (service) View on former Presidents

http://www.northstarnational.com/200...es-presidents/

Former Secret Service agent opens window into private lives of presidents
October 14th, 2009
Jamie Weinstein

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In his In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents they Protect, journalist Ronald Kessler gives us a peek inside the intimate lives of our presidents. Through interviews with over 100 secret service agents from the past and present—dating all the way back to John F. Kennedy—Kessler paints a picture of what our presidents are like when no one is looking.

We learn from the agents Kessler interviews that John F. Kennedy was a serial adulterer (big surprise) and that Lyndon Johnson was essentially a serial adulterer and a lunatic. “If Johnson weren’t president, he’d be in an insane asylum,” said one former secret agent who sometimes was on Johnson’s detail. Secret Service agents found Richard Nixon strange and unsociable. Agents described Gerald Ford as friendly but cheap, often tipping caddies at exclusive country clubs a dollar if anything at all. But the president subject to the greatest scorn is Jimmy Carter.

Carter is portrayed as a phony according to the agents interviewed by Kessler. Carter would put on a show for the public to convey himself as a common man, but it was never anymore than an act. For instance, we are told that when Carter would make a point of carrying his own luggage in front of the press, he was really carrying empty bags. He expected others to carry his real luggage. Unfriendly, Carter “didn’t want the police officers and agents looking at him or speaking to him when he went to the [Oval] office,” explained an assistant White House usher. “The only time I saw a smile on Carter’s face was when the cameras were going,” one former agent told Kessler.

After his presidency, Kessler reports that when Carter would stay at a townhouse maintained for former presidents in D.C., he would take down pictures of other presidents and put up more pictures of himself! “The Carters were the biggest liars in the world,” one agent told Kessler of the Carter era.

Carter, not surprisingly, denied to Kessler through a lawyer many of the allegations in the book.

The man who sent Carter packing from the White House could not have been more different according to accounts from agents. Ronald Reagan would constantly interact with his secret service agents and other staffers who worked for him. He was apologetic when he would take secret service agents away from their families on holidays. While Carter would make secret service agents pay for any leftover food they consumed after White House parties, we are told Reagan would insist the secret service eat leftover food (without charge, of course).

George H.W. Bush also comes across as eminently decent. The Bushes, for instance, would stay home on Christmas Eve so that the agents could spend at least some time with their families. “Both [President Bush] and Mrs. Bush are very thoughtful, and they think outside their own little world. They think of other people,” one agent commented to Kessler.

Bush’s successor President Clinton comes across fairly well if sometimes inconsiderate, while Hillary Clinton is depicted as a monster. “Hillary did not speak to us,” one agent told Kessler. “We spent years with her. She never said thank you.”

Vice President Al Gore was exceedingly obnoxious to his agents according to Kessler. When scolding his son for not doing well in school, Gore chastised him by warning that “if you don’t straighten up, you won’t get into the right schools, and if you don’t get into the right schools you could end up like these guys.” The “guys” Gore was referring to were his secret service agents!

President George W. Bush is painted as an affable character behind the scenes. “He does not look comfortable in front of a microphone,” one agent explained to Kessler. “With us, he doesn’t talk like that, doesn’t sound like that. He’s funny as hell.” Bush 43 was also depicted as “down to earth” and “caring.”

While many conservatives may bristle at the domestic and foreign policies of current President Barack Obama, judged by the way he treats his secret service agents it is fair to conclude that Obama is personally a decent man. One agent who protected Obama on the campaign trail says that Obama twice invited agents to dinner at his home.

Kessler’s book does raise a serious question. Should those charged with protecting the president be chatting about what they saw behind the scenes, especially when the protectee is still alive, or worse, still in office? If presidents have to worry about their secret service agents squealing about them to the press at every turn, it will make our presidents want to put as much distance as possible between them and their agents and thus ultimately compromise presidential security. This is not a desirable outcome to say the least.

On the other hand, secret service agents have a unique view of history and there is something to be learned about our presidents from the stories agents tell. It may be argued that the agents owe a duty to history to tell us what they saw on their watch so we can get a fuller understanding of those who lead us, foibles and all. This argument is especially compelling after a president has passed away, or at the very least, left office.

These are difficult issues to wrestle with, but the fact is that the book has been written. What’s done is done. Might as well take a peek inside.
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Old 10-15-2009, 09:07 PM   #2
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Default Re: A Secret (service) View on former Presidents

It's certainly interesting to get an insider peek. I worked with a guy who was stationed in the Whitehouse during the Clinton era. He told me all about Hillary and how she treated the Troops/Agents there in the Whitehouse (like they were trash...at best.) None of this actually surprises me though.
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Old 10-15-2009, 09:12 PM   #3
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Default Re: A Secret (service) View on former Presidents

Very interesting. I'm only surprised by the Jimmy Carter part. But hey, I was just a kid when he was President and now it more justifies why my Sainted Grandfather couldn't stand him. lol
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Old 10-15-2009, 09:17 PM   #4
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Default Re: A Secret (service) View on former Presidents

Ronald Kessler is the Chief Washington D.C. correspondent with the conservative website Newsmax.com

It all makes sense.
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Old 10-15-2009, 09:34 PM   #5
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Default Re: A Secret (service) View on former Presidents

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Ronald Kessler is the Chief Washington D.C. correspondent with the conservative website Newsmax.com

It all makes sense.
Makes sense? Why is that?

Nixon was ripped on. Bill Clinton and Obama praised.

Carter and JFK/LBJ admins were ripped on, the Bushes and Reagan praised.

Honestly, the only one that surprised me here was LBJ honestly.

I have ALWAYS said that Clinton was probably a great guy to sit down at a meal with. His wife is a different story, but we've all known that. I am glad to hear about Obama as well. Especially since we have heard reports from other places about his arrogance. I would expect Bush41 to be a bit more aloof, just because of his NE upbringing. Carter, well, I have probably paid more attention to him then others since he has been out of office, because of denominational politics. I fully expected that from him.
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Old 10-15-2009, 09:37 PM   #6
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Default Re: A Secret (service) View on former Presidents

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Originally Posted by JackHammer View Post
Ronald Kessler is the Chief Washington D.C. correspondent with the conservative website Newsmax.com

It all makes sense.
Makes you wonder how accurate his portrayal is.

I'd prefer an objective source rather than someone who openly has a partisan axe to grind. It's a shame too because I would love to see Presidents and Vice-Presidents (as well as losing candidates) from the perspective of insiders. i'd especially like to hear what they thought of Palin (other than how hard she made their jobs with the way she moved and worked the crowd).
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Old 10-15-2009, 09:46 PM   #7
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Default Re: A Secret (service) View on former Presidents

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Makes sense? Why is that?

Bill Clinton and Obama praised.
And in the same breath called Hillary a "monster" She sure does seem like one though And of course he won't bash Obama since the Liberal Media will pound him into the ground for interrupting their love fest.
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Old 10-15-2009, 10:31 PM   #8
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Default Re: A Secret (service) View on former Presidents

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And in the same breath called Hillary a "monster" She sure does seem like one though And of course he won't bash Obama since the Liberal Media will pound him into the ground for interrupting their love fest.
Actually, from everything I remember, it was quite well known that is exactly how she was. So no surprise there at all.

I would see the bias here in not hearing about Nancy Reagan (I would surmise she was quite a bit more standoffish too... least that would be my guess).

Also can't skip the "friendly but cheap" label on Ford. Its the little things like that which make me think there is quite a bit of legitimacy to it.

Honestly though, I don't like the idea of the Sec. Serv. talking. I didn't like it when they were called to testify in the days of the Clinton Quid Pro Quo sexual harassment hearings either. Regardless of what he did, the Sec. Secur. should not testify. I never want them to feel like they have to put space between them and their person.
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Old 10-15-2009, 10:36 PM   #9
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Default Re: A Secret (service) View on former Presidents

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I would see the bias here in not hearing about Nancy Reagan (I would surmise she was quite a bit more standoffish too... least that would be my guess).
Barbara Bush comes off like a real ice queen too.

Maybe it's not their personalities. It could be that they don't like life in the White House bubble. Their husbands have the personalities for it, but it doesn't mean they do.
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Old 10-16-2009, 08:00 AM   #10
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Default Re: A Secret (service) View on former Presidents

I knew LBJ was crazed...he was also incredibly corrupt.

One thing I never understood about the perception of Carter was why people thought he was a just a "common man" because he was a peanut farmer...the thing is, peanut farming is pretty damn lucrative, and he was very wealthy. Plus, its not like he was out there on his hands and knees dirt farming. He RAN the farm.

I've also seen some people run Carter down for winning his Nobel, saying it was a slap in GWB's face. Well, that's not really true...Carter may not have been a very good president, but he's an accomplished and respected statesman and diplomat, as well as a very prolific author, and some of the books he writes are serious scholarly books...here is a list:

* Why Not the Best? (1975 and 1996)
* A Government as Good as Its People (1977 and 1996)
* Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President (1982 and 1995) ISBN 1-55728-330-3
* Negotiation: The Alternative to Hostility (1984 and 2003) ISBN 0-86554-137-X
* The Blood of Abraham: Insights into the Middle East (1985, 1993 and 2007) ISBN 1-55728-293-5
* Everything to Gain: Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life (1987 and 1995), with Rosalynn Carter, ISBN 1-55728-388-5
* An Outdoor Journal (1988 and 1994) ISBN 1-55728-354-0
* Turning Point: A Candidate, a State, and a Nation Come of Age (1992) ISBN 0-8129-2299-9
* Talking Peace: A Vision for the Next Generation (1993 and 1995) ISBN 0-14-037440-X
* Always a Reckoning (1995) ISBN 0-8129-2434-7, a collection of poetry, illustrated by his granddaughter
* The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer (1995), a children's book, illustrated by his daughter
* Living Faith (1996) ISBN 0-8129-3034-7
* Sources of Strength: Meditations on Scripture for a Living Faith (1997) ISBN 0-8129-3236-6
* The Virtues of Aging (1998) ISBN 0-345-42592-8
* An Hour before Daylight: Memories of a Rural Boyhood (2001) ISBN 0-7432-1199-5 also available on Audio CD (2001, 2006)
* Christmas in Plains: Memories (2001) ISBN 0-7432-2715-8 also available on Audio CD (2001, 2006)
* The Nobel Peace Prize Lecture (2002) ISBN 0-7432-5068-0
* The Hornet's Nest (2003) ISBN 0-7432-5542-9, a historical novel about the American Revolution, and the first work of fiction written by a U.S. President, also available on Audio CD (2003)
* Sharing Good Times (2004) ISBN 0-7432-7068-1 also available on Audio CD (2004, 2006)
* Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis (2005) ISBN 0-7432-8501-8; Audio CD won a Grammy Award for best spoken-word album.[1]
* Faith and Freedom: The Christian Challenge for the World (2005) ISBN 0-7156-3610-3; UK edition of Our Endangered Values
* Palestine Peace Not Apartheid (2006) ISBN 0-7432-8502-6, also available on Audio CD (2006)
* Leading a Worthy Life: Sunday Mornings in Plains: Bible Study with Jimmy Carter (2007) Only available on Audio CD
* Measuring Our Success: Sunday Mornings in Plains: Bible Study with Jimmy Carter (2007) Only available on Audio CD
* A Remarkable Mother (2008) ISBN 978-1-4165-6245-0
* Beyond the White House: Waging Peace, Fighting Disease, Building Hope (2008) ISBN 1-4165-5880-2
* We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land: A Plan That Will Work (2009) ISBN 1439140634
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