Missing Patriotism: The Roots of a Prostitution Scandal

The Secret Service’s sexcapade in Cartagena, Colombia, is the equivalent of having the members of a presidential honor guard parade down the street while swaying drunkenly with prostitutes draped across their shoulders. Our liberal media is doing its best to minimize the backlash of this disgusting event on the Democratic Party, because it in fact represents a crowning blow to our cherished American exceptionalism and our vaunted worldwide prestige.

Two days after September 11, 2001, I landed in Berlin on a trip with my wife, an American political analyst. We were having lunch with friends at the enormous KaDeWe department store, and I wandered off in search of something to bring back for our dinner. The manager of the food department, noticing the American flag on my lapel, asked if I was an American. “Champagne for everyone,” he ordered, when I told him I had just flown over from the U.S. “Without America and the Airlift, we would be speaking Russian now,” he explained. Soon after that, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi stated: “We will never forget that we owe our freedom — our freedom — and our wealth to the United States of America. And our democracy.”

“I decided I won’t wear that [flag] pin on my chest,” Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic contender for the White House, announced publicly on October 3, 2007. “Instead, I’m going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testament to my patriotism.” The next day, his campaign explained what being a patriot meant: “Speaking honestly with the American people about this disastrous war [in Iraq].” Senator Obama labeled that war an apocalyptic mistake and called for the unconditional withdrawal of our troops. Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate majority leader, famously declared: “The war is lost.” Democratic Congressman John Murtha, chairman of the House Appropriation Subcommittee on Defense, solemnly told the Washington Times: “All of Iraq must know Iraq is free — free from United States’ occupation.”

After Senator Obama was elected president, he began wearing the American flag pin. Indeed, there is no better place than the White House to inspire patriotism. The leaders of his Democratic Party, however, continued to condemn their own country’s wars, and to portray our brave military forces as Genghis Khan hordes. Retired general Wesley Clark, a former NATO commander who had just lost his attempt to win the Democratic nomination for the White House, even wanted Congress to “determine whether President Bush was a criminal by advocating a war against Saddam Hussein,” and he looked the other way when one of his supporters grabbed his microphone to call our commander-in-chief a “deserter.”

How did our venerable American sense of patriotism arrive at this low point?

On May 27, 2008, Senator Joseph Lieberman described the problem in a nutshell. “Democrats under Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy forged and conducted a foreign policy that was principled, internationalist, strong, and successful,” he said. “Now, the Democratic Party sees America as the main danger to the world’s peace. [According to the Democrats,] the Soviets and their allies were our enemies not because they were inspired by a totalitarian ideology fundamentally hostile to our way of life, or because they nursed ambitions of global conquest. Rather, the Soviets were our enemies because we had provoked them, and because we failed to sit down and accord them the respect they deserved. In other words, the Cold War was mostly America’s fault.”

The Cartagena sexcapade dramatically proves that the Democratic Party’s new anti-Americanism has even started eating away at the patriotism of one of the most patriotic American institutions, the Secret Service — which was born five days after General Lee surrendered at Appomattox.

In my other life at the top of Communist Romania’s intelligence community, I had a relatively close working relationship with H. Stuart Knight, the head of the American Secret Service in those days. We jointly prepared Ceausescu’s last two trips to the U.S., and together we also planned President Nixon’s last visit to Romania. My relations with Mr. Knight became stronger after I was granted political asylum. Like me, he was also an immigrant (born in Canada, raised in Detroit), and that gave us a common bond. Through him, I came to know the Secret Service quite well. To my eyes, the Secret Service was the land-based equivalent of a naval carrier ship, where the officers snap to attention and salute the American flag whenever they board. Over the years I got to know hundreds of Mr. Knight’s agents. All demonstrated allegiance to the flag and were ready to give their lives to protect America’s other symbol, its president. In fact, you could almost say that there was a cult of the U.S. president within the Secret Service of those days.

I will never forget the police baton displayed in a glass cabinet behind Mr. Knight’s desk. Whenever I went to his office, he would tell me that it had belonged to his father. To me, that baton symbolized Mr. Knight’s personal modesty, which characterized his own leadership qualities. Mr. Knight served as head of the Secret Service under three presidents, prevented two assassination attempts against President Ford (1975), and diverted an attempt that only wounded President Reagan (1981), but both Mr. Knight and his Secret Service kept a very low profile throughout. During Ceaucescu’s 1978 visit to the U.S., Mr. Knight assigned several dozen Secret Service officers to protect my then-boss, but their presence was hardly visible.

Last week, Mr. Knight must have been turning over in his grave. The fact that all eleven Secret Service agents and all ten military personnel sent to Cartagena for the single purpose of protecting the president of the United States were found to have been involved with prostitutes during that trip indicates that their disgusting behavior was far from accidental. On an earlier occasion, the dirty sexual innuendo about former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin posted on the internet by the Secret Service agent in charge of protecting her does not now appear accidental, either. We are evidently dealing with a new culture at the Secret Service.

In my other life, when I told Ceaucescu that we were losing money on every product we were exporting to the West, his prompt solution was: “We’ll make it up in quantity.” The recent enormous operation mounted to protect President Obama’s two-day attendance at the Sixth Summit of the Americas, involving hundreds of Secret Service agents, some forty armored cars, fleets of airplanes and helicopters, and and at least a couple of dozen sniffer dogs, also seems designed to replace quality with quantity. It did not work in Romania. It will not work here.

Since 1792, elections have been the American way of correcting the past and improving the future. Fortunately, we still have free elections. In the following months, we at PJ Media will do our best to help America’s voters restore respect for the United States of America, for our flag, and for our president.