What Were Wayward Secret Service Agents, GSA-ers Thinking?

More remarkable than visiting prostitutes? Lying to yourself about why they're sleeping with you.

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Perhaps it seemed like a good idea at the time.

That may explain all sorts of behavior, both by private individuals and public officials. And aside from a human tendency toward rationalization, it may be the only reason why someone would go to a brothel on a presidential trip, waste pots of public cash on a luxury trip when the country is struggling out of a recession, or travel on a highway with the family dog on the roof.

[Washington Whispers: GSA Heads Slammed During Congressional Hearing]

Officials at the General Services Administration—that would be the agency charged with making sure we're spending our public monies wisely—took its staff on a decadent and expensive vacation in Las Vegas. It was supposed to be a "team building" effort. Instead, the team at the top is being broken up, and the whole agency has been tarred with a scandal the organizers should have seen coming.

Meanwhile, a cadre of Secret Service agents is accused of visiting prostitutes in Cartagena while they were in South America on detail to President Obama. What is even more remarkable than the reckless behavior (which is also particularly astonishing to those of us who have witnessed incredible professionalism and courage by Secret Service agents on presidential and campaign trips) is the lie the agents allegedly told themselves. According to ABC News, the suspected agents bragged at the brothel that "we work for Obama" and "we're here to protect him."

[See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 campaign.]

First, if you are committed to protecting the president, don't embarrass him by patronizing prostitutes. Secondly, you don't need to impress hookers by bragging about your big powerful job. They're not having sex with you because you are willing to take a bullet for the president. They're having sex with you because you are paying them. They're a sure thing. That's the point. Paying for sex is pathetic, but it's not remotely as pathetic as convincing yourself that the prostitutes are attracted to you or your authority. Try refusing to pay (as one of the agents allegedly did) and you'll get an answer to that question pretty quickly.

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