To hear the State Department tell it, in the overall big picture of what matters, the fact that our Secretary of State and his entourage were forced to go through a metal detector before being allowed to meet with Egypt's president does not matter very much.
With all due respect to State Department spokesperson (and Obama campaign veteran) Jen Psaki, who tried to diplomatically dismiss the unprecedented insult, it does matter. How countries, especially those which receive billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars in foreign aid, treat our senior-most government officials is emblematic of the respect -- or lack thereof -- they have for us. Clearly, Egypt does not have much respect for the USA.
Some might argue that is because of the Obama administration's remarkably accomplishment-free foreign policy, particularly when it comes to the Middle East. But too bad. That does not excuse the rudeness of the Egyptians to our Secretary of State.
Forcing our nation's top diplomat to prove he did not have a weapon is beyond acceptable norms. It should not be minimized or ignored. Protecting a head of government is important, but subjecting people who are known not to pose any threat is both offensive and a waste of time and resources. Whatever danger the Egyptian president faces does not come from the U.S. Secretary of State or his party.
Perhaps the Egyptians were guided by a mistake made in the U.S. more than 30 years ago. Not long after the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981, the U.S. Secret Service imposed the draconian policy of forcing the White House press corps -- men and women whose backgrounds had been checked by the F.B.I. -- to pass through metal detectors before being granted access to the White House complex, where they worked every day. We're talking about men and women who had been at the White House longer than any president, such as renowned reporters Helen Thomas, Hugh Sidey, Sam Donaldson, Tom Brokaw, and dozens of Pulitzer-Prize winning photographers, among many others. They objected, as they had every right and reason to, but to no avail. And to this day, no accredited White House reporter/photographer/technician has ever been found to have a weapon.
What's done is done. We cannot go back. It would have been interesting -- and completely reasonable -- had Secretary Kerry refused to be searched. But he's a pro, and wisely looked the other way. Next time, though, he should say no. After all, who needs whom? And maybe when Congress gives other nations billions of our dollars, they should require that a) none of it go to metal detectors and b) American diplomats are not to be subjected to insulting and unnecessary procedures. If they don't trust us, the heck with 'em.