Secret Service Mum on Bush Threat
By Carl Limbacher Jr, NewsMax.com
The U.S. Secret Service won't say whether it's investigating Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu after she threatened to "punch" President Bush earlier this week during a fit of anger over Hurricane Katrina.
"She might have been joking," Secret Service spokeswoman Lorie Lewis told NewsMax on Wednesday, after being told of Landrieu's comments on ABC's "This Week."
"If one person criticizes [Louisiana officials], or says one more thing, including the president of the United States, he will hear from me - one more word about it after this show airs and I - I might likely have to punch him - literally," Landrieu railed to host George Stephanopoulos.
The Secret Service was provided with a full transcript of the ABC broadcast, including Landrieu's incendiary remarks. Spokeswoman Lewis promised to find out whether the agency intended to launch an investigation after reviewing the transcript.
In the two days since, the Secret Service has declined to return two phone calls or respond to an email inquiring about the disposition of a possible Landrieu probe.
The agency took a tougher stance on Senatorial threats in 1994, when then-North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms joked that President Clinton "had better watch out if he comes down here. He better have a bodyguard."
After a media firestorm erupted - with some pundits complaining that Helms had committed treason - the Secret Service swung into action, launching a full blown investigation into whether Helms' statement indicated that someone in North Carolina planned to assassinate the president.
"We have followed up on the comments and [have] spoken with the senator's staff," a Secret Service spokesman said at the time.
Ms. Landrieu's much more explicit threat to "punch" Bush, on the other hand, has prompted no such reaction from the agency.
And the press, which rushed to condemn Helms, has pretended not to notice that Landrieu's outburst is part of a rising tide of hostility towards the Bush White House where normal boundaries of criticism have fallen by the wayside.
In recent days, Democrats have complained that the Bush administration response to Katrina was "criminal." On Wednesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the president himself was "dangerous" for the nation.
Surveying the storm damage on Thursday, Vice President Cheney was interrupted twice during an outdoor television interview by a man who shouted: "Go f - - k yourself, Mr. Vice President."
If the Landrieu case is any indication, however, apparently threats against the executive branch aren't taken as seriously as they once were.