Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Presidential Luncheon That Really Wasn't....

Last night I watched a report about President Obama’s food taster.  That’s correct – his food taster. Apparently, Senator Susan Collins, (R), of Maine, hosted a hill luncheon for President Obama but the President didn’t eat anything.  Collins spoke of it later:

“University of Maine recipe for healthy lobster salad — I pointed that out to the president in keeping with the first lady’s initiatives, and Fox Family Potato Chips made in Aroostook County where I’m from, and wild blueberry pie full of anti-oxidants.  See this was a healthy lunch as well. We did have a little ice cream on the pie too, also made in Maine, Gifford’s Ice Cream.  So in all seriousness this was well received,” Collins told reporters on Thursday after the meeting at the Capitol.

“Unfortunately, you know, the president can’t,” said Collins when asked if Obama ate at the lunch meeting.
“He looked longingly at it,” Collins continued. “He honestly did look longingly at it, but apparently he has to have essentially a taster, and I pointed out to him that we were all tasters for him, that if the food had been poisoned all of us would have keeled over so…  But he did look longingly at it and he remarked that we have far better food than the Democrats do.  And I said that was because I was hosting.”

Really?  The President has a food taster?  Is this something that all U.S. Presidents do or just him?  An article I read about it says the Secret Service will not confirm or deny that the President of the United States has a food taster.  If it’s something they all do then hey – who am I to question it?  If it’s something unique to this President then I would wonder why he thinks it’s necessary.  Especially for food served to all of the Senators.

The President ate at the luncheon served after his inauguration.  It was on national television.  And that meal was also served in the Capitol building.  So what was the difference between this luncheon and that one?  Was it because it was hosted by a Republican, perhaps?  Or did the taster take care of his duties while the President was giving his inaugural address?  Why wasn’t he there for this one?  Is he a furlough victim of the sequester, maybe?

I have other questions as well.  First…  how long do you have to wait after someone tastes your food to be sure it’s safe?  A few minutes?  An hour?  A couple of days?  Poison only works immediately in the movies.  OK – I could be wrong about that.  I guess there could be something out there that is instantaneous.  So how long does he have to wait?

Second…  and equally important – is this job a Presidential appointment, a General Schedule job or what?  What does it pay?  Does the taster get hazardous duty pay on top of his salary?  Or would it simply be the luck of the draw for some unlucky Secret Service agent?  I can hear him telling his wife….  “Baby – for the next three months my life will truly be in danger.  I’ve got Food Taster duties this quarter.” 

I don’t really begrudge President Obama having a food taster, if this story is true.  God knows there are enough people in this world who would want to harm him or see him harmed.  I am not one of those.  I believe the repercussions from someone hurting or killing the President would be devastating to the country.  So even though I disagree with him politically on just about everything, I don’t want anyone to do anything to him. 

Again, I can’t help but wonder if all Presidents have had food tasters.  I’ve never read or heard anything about it and you’d think it would come out sooner or later.  Maybe it just did.  And maybe Mel Brooks was wrong.  When you have to pass up fresh Maine lobster salad - maybe it's not so good to be the king.

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