The congressional hearing this week on recent incidents involving the Secret Service was alarming, and at times a little frightening. The Q&A and the revelations it produced were striking enough that they contributed to the Secret Service director resigning just one day later.
But watching the hearing unfold, there was one oddly refreshing thing about it: there was nothing overtly political about Congress’ concerns. In a typical hearing, Democrats and Republicans are deeply at odds, with their own witnesses and agendas, but this week, both sides expressed sincere concern about the agency, its practices, and its lapses. The lack of partisan cheap shots was a welcome change of pace.
And then Thom Tillis decided to weigh in.
North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis criticized the Obama administration Wednesday for its handling of security breaches at the White House, saying the incidents reflect a need to be more serious about national security. […]“How on earth can you protect the nation if you can’t protect the White House?” Tillis said to the group.
Asked later about his comments, the Republican candidate, behind in the polls against Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), added, “It’s just another example of failures in this administration. They need to start getting serious about homeland security and national security.”
I just don’t know what possesses someone to make remarks like these while seeking important public offices. Who’s the intended audience for such nonsense?
Look, Tillis is obviously in a tough campaign, and his standing in the polls isn’t inspiring confidence. The Republican is probably looking for some new issue to grab hold of, and maybe one of aides told him it’d be a good idea to politicize White House security breaches for partisan gain.
The problem, however, is one of coherence. The future of the Secret Service has nothing do to with who the junior senator from North Carolina is. Recent lapses aren’t President Obama’s fault, they’re certainly not Kay Hagan’s fault, and they’re not the sort of thing Thom Tillis – who has no background in national security at any level – will be in a position to fix.
And in the broader electoral context, let’s also not forget that House Republicans resisted any urges they may have had to be partisan hacks this week – during the hearing, they demanded more from the Secret Service, but checked the political nonsense at the door.
It’s a shame Tillis didn’t follow their example.