It is apparently not news to anyone that the office of the President of the US involves a degree of security – to include an official food-taster, as medieval as that sounds. Been going on for years, apparently, so having a designated expert to cover food safety with regards to the President isn’t something to have a conniption fit over. So someone has to eat a couple of bites – a whole helping? from a dish prepared for the White House table, and if that person doesn’t fall over, gasping and foaming at the mouth, then it is OK for POTUS consumption. Got it. And yes, I do understand very well that security ought to be tight when it comes to food supplies and preparation for any President … but the recent story about President Obama sitting by at a private luncheon with GOP senators and not being able to eat a bite because his food taster hadn’t vetted the food first strikes me as a matter a little deeper and much more insulting than it has been played.
This was not just our very dear chief of state dropping by a local restaurant, and rubbing elbows with the plebs. Nor was it a state banquet overseas, in company with a lot of foreign dignitaries, and prepared in kitchens perhaps not entirely secure from the Secret Service point of view. This was a private function with a number of GOP senators, for whom security must also be rather efficient and presumably scheduled some time in advance. So – how ungracious is it for the President to accept an invitation from those of the opposite party, to whom a degree of civility is owed – or at least it was by former chief executives – and then refuse to break bread with them … citing a fear of being deliberately poisoned by food that everyone else present was enjoying very much, and over which a great deal of care had been taken. This was tactless, graceless … and above all – insulting in that passive-aggressive way that we have come to expect from our current president.
No wonder that Senator Collins deliberately made a point of expounding on how the President couldn’t even eat a bite because his ‘taster’ wasn’t present. Very likely she picked up on the insulting implication very clearly, especially since she had taken an interest in sourcing the menu from her home state. And then to have the guest of honor essentially say, “Nope, can’t eat a bite ‘cause you all might have put poison in my food and my taster isn’t here to take a hit in the lobster salad for me.”
(Crossposted at www.ncobrief.com)