There's a new tell-all book that offers a different kind of insight to the White House. Ever imagine what the Secret Service goes through when they're assigned to the first family?
Talk about drawing the short straw, chasing around the Bush twins during George W's eight years in office -- that's the gist of a story I saw (on Page Six of all places!) about a new book coming out next month called "In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents they Protect."
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The New York Post story called "Jenna and Barbara Bush Gave Secret Service Fits" says Jenna Bush would jump in her car and take off without telling agents where she was going, and run red lights to try to ditch them, so they'd have to keep her car under surveillance at all times. Also:
"The author claims that at a 2005 Halloween party, Henry Hager, Jenna's boyfriend and soon-to-be-hubby, got so drunk the Secret Service took him to Georgetown University Hospital. He also got boozed up with Jenna in a Georgetown bar and picked a fight with several other patrons, with agents having to intervene to avoid a brawl, writes Kessler, an ex-Washington Post and Wall Street Journal reporter.
Asked if Barbara, Jenna, or Hager had any comment, Sally McDonough, Laura Bush's press secretary, told Kessler, "I am making a formal request that you do not include any of this nonsense in your book."
The book also claims that Richard Nixon's vice president, Spiro Agnew, a champion of family values, had extramarital affairs while in office."
Author Ronald Kessler also says despite his claims he's cut down by 95 percent, President Obama continues to smoke cigarettes.
While the stories I've seen about this book, which will be released August 4, have revolved around the salacious (of course I clicked on it, right?) the Amazon.com description of the book is quite different.
"Never before has a journalist penetrated the wall of secrecy that surrounds the U.S. Secret Service, that elite corps of agents who pledge to take a bullet to protect the president and his family. After conducting exclusive interviews with more than one hundred current and former Secret Service agents, bestselling author and award-winning reporter Ronald Kessler reveals their secrets for the first time," it says. It goes on:
"In this headline-grabbing book, Kessler discloses assassination attempts that have never before been revealed. He shares inside accounts of past assaults that have put the Secret Service to the test, including a heroic gun battle that took down the would-be assassins of Harry S. Truman, the devastating day that John F. Kennedy was killed in Dallas, and the swift actions that saved Ronald Reagan after he was shot.
While Secret Service agents are brave and dedicated, Kessler exposes how Secret Service management in recent years has betrayed its mission by cutting corners, risking the assassination of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and their families. Given the lax standards, “It’s a miracle we have not had a successful assassination,” a current agent says."
WOW! Now THAT sounds like it actually has some substance.
Some of the reviewers have said, however, to consider the source; author Ronald Kessler writes for an ultra-conservative website. In fact he is chief Washington correspondent for the conservative news and commentary blog Newsmax.com, which Wikipedia characterizes as a group started by Christopher Ruddy and conservative investors, and:
"In March, 2009 Forbes featured Newsmax and described Ruddy's company as a "media empire" and the "great right hope" of a troubled Republican Party. Forbes noted that after just a decade of operations it had become a "media powerhouse" - and had surpassed such well known web sites as the Drudgereport in web visitors. According to the magazine, Newsmax draws 3.8 million unique visitors monthly. Political analyst Dick Morris was quoted as saying that Newsmax had become the "most influential Republican-leaning media outlet" in the nation."
So, if you lean to the left, read it knowing that its author leans the other way -- and has written glowingly about the George H.W. Bush white house and not so kindly about the Clintons in the past. It seems, though, with the current book, he may be making up for it with his tales about the Bush girls. You kind of can't blame him; there has to be an awful lot of material there, and, well ... it got me to click on it.