As a kid, I remember being extraordinarily moved by the image of Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy turning to face John Hinkley's revolver and spreading out his body in an effort to make himself a bigger target and absorb any bullet headed for President Reagan. McCarthy was shot in the stomach protecting the president that day outside the Washington Hilton.
That picture taught me what honor was.
These are people who, because of love of country, are trained to willingly trade their lives for the president's in the event of an assasination attempt. One who has made the decision to take a bullet for his leader is not likely to hand his charge over to some Third World rent-a-cop.
All of that to say: good for the Secret Service agents who took a swipe at Chilean officials who had essentially sealed President Bush off from part of his security detail. The Chileans had blocked some of the agents outside the cultural center where the state dinner was being held--after the president had already entered the building. The Chilean goons are lucky they didn't get shot right then and there.
And good for President Bush, who saw the incident and returned to the door to literally pull his lead agent out of the throng and into the building. He's rightfully loyal to the men who've pledged their lives to protect him.
Will the incident engender foreign hostility? Will Bush and his entourage be seen as American bullies in the eyes of the world? I can't tell you how little I care. I know the lead agent's face well, since it appears in all the photographs I have from my brief greeting with President Bush in Tampa a few months ago. It was this agent's eyes that intently watched every move of my hand as it clasped with the president's. It was this agent who was prepared to thrust his body between the president and me if I were to suddenly produce a weapon. No Chilean security clown is going to do that for the president of a country that most of the world hates.
Secret Service agents are genuine heroes, and need not bow to any Third World Barney Fifes.