A Matter of Taste(r)

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)

17 thoughts on “A Matter of Taste(r)”

  1. I’ve read a book about the Secret Service writing by an ex agent – and one of the things he said was that is a POTUS doesn’t want to adhere to their recommendations, they don’t have to (much to their consternation).

  2. For comparison:

    1) Shortly after D-Day, Churchill stated his intention to visit the troops in Normandy. He was only dissuaded when the King said that if Churchill was going, HE was going, too.

    2) Just the other day, the new Pope left his security perimeter to mingle with the crowd.

  3. Perhaps hereditary monarchs are doughtier than elected monarchs.

    On 29 May 1842, Victoria was riding in a carriage along The Mall, London, when John Francis aimed a pistol at her but the gun did not fire; he escaped. The following day, Victoria drove the same route, though faster and with a greater escort, in a deliberate attempt to provoke Francis to take a second aim and catch him in the act. As expected, Francis shot at her, but he was seized by plain clothes policemen, and convicted of high treason.

  4. @Dearieme – I like her spirit! Sorta like Teddy Roosevelt, giving a speech – gets shot – continues speech until done.

    “I am all right, and you cannot escape listening to my speech either.” he said.

  5. Yep – Victoria had a spine, although I do wonder if some of it wasn’t a transfer from Prince Albert. The thing about the luncheon, which still gets up my nose – is how bloody rude he was. Look, even if he didn’t feel well, or like lobster salad – whatever happened to taking a bite or two, and being a good guest? Obviously, he and gracious good manners are not on speaking terms, and I do not blame Senator Collins or any of the other GOP representatives for being a bit miffed about it all. Essentially, he made a slap at them in taking for granted that they wouldn’t miss a chance to poison him. It’s absolutely Third World, or ancient Rome … insisting on his taster, before he takes a bite.

  6. The purpose of this clown act was to provide Obama an excuse not to eat a poisoned lunch he serves to his political enemies.

  7. }}} Essentially, he made a slap at them in taking for granted that they wouldn’t miss a chance to poison him. It’s absolutely Third World, or ancient Rome … insisting on his taster, before he takes a bite.

    So… cumulative poisons, then…?

    Nice to know.

  8. I mean, I’m sure we can find something that kills, but you’re dead from it long before it’s obvious you’ve taken it… :-P

  9. Much ado about nothing, I’m afraid. It’s the policies of the current regime that are poisonous, not the lobster salad.

  10. The fundamental assumption that every person and every thing is out to kill the president is a very corrosive acid that destroys democracy. Everyone is searched, x-rayed, weighed and analysed. If Jesus visited the POTUS Obama, even He would be searched and questioned. No one is above suspicion.

    This is necessary. Those close to Obama know that if Obama is so feared and hated that if he walked unprotected on any street he would be dead in five minutes. They fear that the people do not love him anymore.

    But the people love Obama. He should walk among them unprotected. If he does, Obama will feel their love. The people will protect him ands kiss his feet.

    A leader who does not trust his people is unfit to lead.

  11. And yet, Grey Eagle, Obama gets more daily death threats than any other president . . .

    It’s a tribute to the justified parhe Seceanoia of the Secret Service that we haven’t had a solid shot at a president in a few administrations — not since Reagan, IIRC.

    But, please consider: The Secret Service has been using tasters for a long time, on orders from Congress and others. It’s not the President’s choice, necessarily: http://www.mediaite.com/online/right-wingers-bash-president-obama-for-having-food-taster-like-ronald-reagan-did/

  12. @Ed – there was a book that – depending on the chapter – was either fascinating or bored the !@#$% out of you about the Secret Service. But an interesting chapter dealt with the daily death threats – how they categorize them – how they have caught them – and one truly bizarre threat a psychic revealed – and all the (then future) facts proved true – and if it weren’t for the fact that at the last minute the Secret Service changedthe route… (about G. W. Bush in Oklahoma)


  13. It’s not so much whether he has a taster or not, or even someone who just lurks meaningfully in the corner of the kitchen watching the food prep and the food preppers. I’ve no problem with that, it’s only common sense to have some care taken.
    It’s the studied insult to the GOP senators who were hosting him – using the absence of a taster as an excuse: “I’ll come to lunch, but I won’t dare take a bite because y’all might be poisoning my plate.” I’m pretty certain that security for the senators’ luncheon food prep was also pretty tight.

  14. Sgt Mom – I missed that angle completely and you are right. Of course with Obama by this time you know what you are getting – despite the best efforts of the MSM to hide it.

    If he is that foolish doesn’t he realize that by poisoning the waters he is likely to get that much less cooperation in the future? There is undoubtedly a desire for “payback”.

  15. “It’s not the President’s choice, necessarily”

    Of course it is. The Secret Service is part of the Homeland Security department (previously it was part of Treasury.) Homeland Security, like Treasury, is an executive agency and is subject to Obama’s direction. I doubt if there is a *statute* that requires the President to have a taster.

    But as Sgt Mom pointed out, the problem is not with Obama having a taster. It is with whatever combination of rudeness, poor judgment, mental rigidity, timidity, and (possibly) actual cowardice that led him to conclude he could not dispense with the taster on this specific particular occasion.

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