Cowboys and Indians


Perhaps you’ve been too busy to learn the story of the couple that wasn’t invited to the White House the other night, but who went, and got in, anyway.

Not two hours after the party, Mrs. Salahi had on her Facebook page a dozen photos of her and her husband with Washington’s social elite.

I had been wondering how they do security at the White House at a big state dinner. You can’t treat dignitaries and VIP’s like regular schlemiels, making them stand at the gate while background checks are run, can you?

The Secret Service is investigating how a couple aspiring to be reality-show celebrities managed to appear at President Obama’s first state dinner without being on the guest list, provoking questions about security at the White House.

There has to be a sort of passive screening, I’d assumed, which allows VIP’s to be admitted with fairly casual security.

The inquiry was begun after a Virginia couple, Michaele and Tareq Salahi, slipped past multiple layers of high-level White House security Tuesday night and managed to rub shoulders, literally, with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, among others, at Washington’s most exclusive social event this year.

Word is it took the Salahis a couple of tries to make their way inside, getting in on foot after driving in failed.

Brian Williams, the anchor of “NBC Nightly News” and a guest at the dinner, saw the Salahis arrive when he was waiting in a line of cars to enter the East Gate of the White House. In interviews broadcast on NBC on Thursday, Mr. Williams said the couple’s vehicle was turned away, adding, “Actually the first ring of Secret Service security had worked.”

You have to hand it to Brian Williams, situating himself where news is likely to break.

“After their vehicle was turned away, they hopped out,” Mr. Williams said. “What attracted our attention was there was at least one camera trailing them. And a makeup woman got out and fixed the woman’s hair and then started powdering the man’s forehead.”

Mrs. Salahi is reported to be under consideration for a reality TV show, and a team from Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of D.C.” was following her around that day as part of the selection process.

Whether or not they wind up on “Housewives,” the couple have certainly acted as if they were stars. They are now scheduled to be on “Larry King Live” on Monday.

For all the work they do to keep the President safe, isn’t it interesting that it all comes apart when there are some celebrities around?

“Obviously, somebody dropped the ball,” said Rep. Peter King, of New York. “I mean, you’re talking about the president of the United States and the vice president and a powerful world leader, the prime minister of India.” The prime minister, Manmohan Singh, was the guest of honor.

Hollywood tycoons and other critical Obama supporters like Oprah girlfriend Gayle King were there in what was billed as an extremely difficult guest list to make.

Mr. King said he had seen people turned away from similar White House events, including a congressman who brought his daughter instead of his wife, whose name was on the list. He also raised concerns about the Secret Service’s assertion that Mr. Obama was safe because all guests passed through metal detectors.

King, a member of the Homeland Security Committee, is appalled that the president didn’t have better security.

“The fact they went through the magnometer is incidental,” he said. “They could have had anthrax on them. They could have grabbed a knife from the dining room table.”

Others have crashed presidential events in prior administrations.

Richard Weaver wormed his way into President Bush’s 2001 inauguration and shook Mr. Bush’s hand, repeating a stunt he pulled off at President Clinton’s 1997 inauguration. Security caught him attempting to crash the 2005 ceremony and he was barred from entering the White House or Capitol grounds for five years.

One Response to “Cowboys and Indians”

  1. 1 Reality Show « Real Clear Thinker

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