NATIONAL HARBOR, March 4, 2016 — All of the five remaining Republican candidates were scheduled to speak at CPAC on either Friday or Saturday. Donald Trump, expected to take the CPAC stage on Saturday morning, instead sent regrets. He’ll be campaigning in Kansas instead.
Ben Carson quietly announced his exit from the race; there is speculation that he will endorse one of the final four. But which one?
Those speeches meant that the Secret Service, assisted by the TSA, was visible and obtrusive.
The announcement that Trump would not be there in the morning was followed by the announcement that the magnetometers, bag searches, body wanding and security delays would also be absent, making life easier for everyone.
That announcement elicited cheers of relief. Whether the cheers were for Trump’s absence or for the reduced security will be left to your interpretation.
It is ironic that a crowd that believes in individual freedom and responsibility, including a fair number of servicemen and veterans, would sheepishly go through the metal detectors, friskings and wandings.
Even more ironic is that everyone, including the media, got in line without objection.
Yes, the Secret Service has the job of protecting our presidential candidates, but who in a crowd like this do they think is a threat?
The screening lines winding through the marbled halls of the Gaylord National Resort put airport lines to shame. People waited an hour and a half to two hours to enter the conference area, for which they paid anywhere from $70 for students to $3,000 for premium packages.
About an hour before John Kasich spoke, they locked the doors to the media portion of the ballroom and started wanding everyone again.
Coming through the first set of security barriers, a fellow CDN writer saw one guest’s apples confiscated. This writer was stopped at the initial screening with a banana in his pocket.
The Secret Service agent knew exactly what it was and called out, “Are we letting bananas through?” Another agent replied, “I saw one go through earlier.”
Why was it even a question?
The questionable banana was allowed to pass. Later, bananas could be spotted at the concession stand at a lofty cost of $3.00. Perhaps the banana was a threat to the overpriced concessions that were the only food available to the security-bound attendees who could leave but not return without standing again in that interminable screening line.
It eventually became impossible even to visit one of the two restrooms available to the thousands who were able to make it into the grand Potomac Ballroom without going back through the security nightmare.
What have we become in this country when people who just want to hear a speech must go through this kind of scrutiny? Have the terrorists won? We are certainly not the land of the free that we once were.
Benjamin Franklin said, “People willing to trade their freedom (or bananas) for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.”
We have willingly become that people. And we are hungry.