“We expect very little from the GSA, and we get it,” he contends. “The GSA culture on display in the planning, execution, and celebration of their infamous $800,000 Las Vegas conference was the inevitable result of the permissive ‘you’ll die before you can get fired’ culture that predominates many federal bureaucracies.”
The scandal is instructive, he adds.
“The GSA scandal gives the lie to the liberal ideology,” Babbin explains. “More government isn’t better government. More government, and an ever-expanding unaccountable bureaucracy, means more waste, fraud, and misbehavior by civil servants who don’t believe they’ll ever be fired for bad job performance.”
But the Secret Service is different — at least, it’s supposed to be.
“Men of character don’t carouse with prostitutes wherever they find themselves, they don’t take illicit drugs or hit the booze to an extent that they can’t be at 100 percent alertness and strength to do their jobs when they report for duty — that word again — the following day,” he says.
What’s important now is to treat the scandal for what it is – not sweep it under the rug with a few timely resignations and retirements.
“Those involved shouldn’t be retired: if accountability has any meaning at all, they should be fired for cause, deprived of their retirements, and cast out as the misfits they are,” Babbin contends. “When that’s over, Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan may have to go.”
If self-discipline is removed, the organization’s soul suffers.
“If the team feels no need to discipline itself, the sense of duty fails,” Babbin says. “Without that sense, that common purpose, the Secret Service becomes nothing more than the GSA.”
Those in leadership at the Secret Service must rise to the task. They must seek out those who still see the agency as a higher calling.
“The easy part will be for those leaders to take a mandate from the director and restore a culture of duty, honor, and country that must predominate agents’ thinking,” Babbin says. “The damage done by the Cartagena incident will be deeply felt by every agent worth his salt.”
We can take comfort in the fact that despite this scandal, the Secret Service isn’t the GSA. Yet.