NRA ‘jeopardized the security of the first family’

January 17, 2013
(Pete Souza/The White House)
The first family (Pete Souza/The White House)

The National Rifle Association continues to catch hell for using the Secret Service protection for President Obama’s daughters in a dumb web ad opposing his efforts to stem gun violence. Joe Scarborough, a former Republican member of Congress, spoke for many yesterday when he said on his show, “What’s wrong with these people?” His focus was on the gun lobby’s targeting the president’s children in a policy fight, an unprecedented breach of protocol. Long-standing tradition is that children are totally off-limits. But a Democratic member of the House Homeland Security committee told me today that the “reckless and irresponsible” NRA ad “jeopardized the security of the first family.”

“Those children, the president’s children and Mrs. Obama, are an extension of the president’s service to this nation,” Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) told me. “And the idea that you would equate a national security structure that covers a president, no matter who the president is and make either light of it or expose it openly to the people of the United States or to those who this system is [designed] to prevent from doing harm to the president is an outrage.”

Okay, so Jackson Lee was a tad hyperbolic. We all know that presidents, their spouses and their children have Secret Service protection. But Jackson Lee’s concern is understandable. There are twisted souls out there who want to do harm to the president. Although, it’s a matter of debate whether their ranks grew with the ascension of President Obama or were about the same as for any other president. But what should not be up for debate is the necessity of his protection and that of his family. Scarborough zeroed in on this yesterday.

You have children that had no say in the decision on whether their father was going to step forward to be president of the United States, to run for president, one of the most bone-crushing sacrificing things any husband or wife can do to their family. And the second they make that decision, their children and their entire family have targets on their backs.

Jackson Lee took offense at the NRA ad’s suggestion that such protection was unique to the Obamas or a waste of taxpayer dollars. She called “bogus” the criticism that the Obama daughters have security in school while others elsewhere do not. “The president’s security is not a decision of his,” she said. “It is the law.”

Imagine how great it would be if the NRA stopped thwarting gun violence prevention measures that would enhance everyone’s security.

Follow Jonathan Capehart on Twitter.

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.
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Rachel Manteuffel | January 17, 2013