PULLING RANK

WaPo’s Reliable Source nails a politician for using the perks of office:

when populist Democrat Tom Harkin jumped a snaking security line of less exalted passengers at Reagan National Airport on Friday to make his flight home to Iowa, it was only a matter of minutes before someone dropped a dime.

In this case, that someone was Jim Warren, deputy managing editor of the Chicago Tribune, who had just arrived around 10 a.m. when he spotted Harkin flashing his Senate ID at the Midwest Express counter and being escorted past some 200 long-suffering travelers who were waiting to go through security.

“The line was really backed up,” Warren told us, “and it seemed to me beyond the horizon of what is acceptable for this famous populist to be using his position to get a special privilege for himself.”

Harkin’s communication director, Allison Dobson, told us her boss normally gets to the airport a good hour and a half before his flights, but it was impossible this time because he’d spent the morning casting votes in the Senate.

“He was supposed to be on the 10:30 a.m. Midwest Express direct flight to Des Moines, and he had a full schedule of events there,” Dobson said. “If he missed that flight, he would have had to cancel a full day of meetings with officials. There were a lot of people who would have been disappointed.” Dobson added that as the senator marched to the front of the line in full view of his lessers, he realized that he was risking exposure. “But we were more worried about getting the job done for the people of Iowa than about getting a call from a gossip columnist.”

Now, obviously, this excuse is rather lame. Indeed, there were likely several people in line who had tasks more pressing than attending the Little Miss Corn Muffin pageant, gladhanding with the Kiwanis Club, or raising money for the next campaign. And, yes, it appears hypocritical when politicians strike a populist pose and then pull rank on the lumpenproletariat.

That said, it strikes me as idiotic that a US Senator should have to wait in line for a security check. I mean, really, is there a member of the Senate that we seriously think is a terrorist threat? To me, this just exposes the stupidity of the “one size fits all” screening strategy –clearly violating people’s 4th Amendment rights now that it’s a government agency in charge–that we’ve put in place to give the illusion that we’re fighting terrorism.

(Hat tip: Cam Edwards)

FILED UNDER: Iraq War
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.