Reporter's Note: The President has a lot of security around him. Me, not so much; but I’m fairly fast and I’ve never hesitated to run like a frightened chipmunk from any serious threat. Until that threat comes along, I’ll continue with my letters to the president, including this one about security…or the lack of it.
Tom Foreman | Bio
Dear Mr. President,
If you watched the coverage roiling through the media for the past 24 hours, you’d think the confirmation hearing for Sonia Sotomayor is the only story in town. Never mind that your Dem pals in the House have rolled out their version of health care reform, or that dozens of Air Force cadets appear to have contracted the swine flu, or that there is now a website dedicated to people doing the moonwalk. (It’s ok, but my personal favorite lately is a site the features Garfield comics with Garfield erased. Has a certain “introspective sociopathy” quality, that is just delightful.)
But the story that is lighting me up more than any other at the moment is word that Homeland Security is reconsidering that color-coded warning system they have for telling us how the terrorist tote board is stacking up every time we take a trip. I have to say right up front that I’ve never been a fan.
The warning system always seemed to be like having a really nervous man in a day-glow vest standing in the airport yelling, “Look out! Watch it! What’s in your suitcase? Hey! Hey! Check out that guy, quick!” The signs do not make me more vigilant because they are always there, always saying pretty much the same thing. Kind of like the directions on a bathroom hand dryer. I stopped reading those years ago, too.
To be fair, I guess I have to admit there are variations to the warning signs. For example, and I paraphrase, one says “Be afraid.” Another says, “Be very afraid.” And yet another says, “Go home, lock the doors, and grab the duct tape, we’re all going to die!” Or something like that. As I have mentioned before, there is probably no agency in government that has routinely made me feel less secure than Homeland Security. I know they are doing important work, and they deserve kudos for the fact that we’ve had no attacks here since 9/11. I’m just saying that the red, orange, and yellow signs have never made me feel more confident. They’ve just made me jumpy because they seem to be saying, “Yeah, we’re doing our best, but who knows?”
If the color system gets trashed I confess I will be a little sad. I would have loved to have seen the day that some of those other colors emerged signifying a safer world. I have been told such colors are in the scale, but like the Yeti or “government by the people,” they seem to exist primarily in mythology.
Still, if you want my advice (and I can’t imagine why you would not) I say pitch the color code system. Every time I take off my shoes, display that crumpled plastic bag of my toiletries, and she my jacket to clear airport security; trust me, even without a sign, I get the message.
Have you been trying to call me about the hearings? I kept getting hang ups today and there was no call back number, so I figured, “Hey, could be the president!” Of course, that’s what I’ve always figured about hang ups…but who knows?
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