Revelations that the Secret Service mishandled several threats to Barack Obama, including a fence-jumper who ran into the White House and an armed man who rode an elevator with the president, forced USSS Director Julia Pierson to answer a barrage of questions Tuesday before a hostile House Oversight panel.
On Wednesday, MSNBC's "Morning Joe" added one more question. Panelist Donny Deutsch suggested that promoting "women into positions of authority," like Pierson's job, is more an attempt to fulfill a quota than to ensure competency in national security. "As we kind of go through [Pierson's] resume, you go, 'Obviously, coming off the prostitute scandal, okay, yeah, women on top makes sense, good for the brand, if you will.' But the brand doesn’t work if it’s not competent."
Co-host Joe Scarborough chimed in to say the female agent who didn't stop the intruder at the front door of the White House was also there for "politically correct reasons." Laura Ingraham made the same point on "Fox and Friends" on Tuesday.
Watch the Morning Joe segment (starting at 4 minutes):
Women are not the reason for the Secret Service's problems. Those existed well before Pierson became the first woman to lead the agency, which faced scandals like a couple crashing Obama's first state dinner and its disorganized response to shots fired at the White House. As Jezebel's Kate Dries points out, a book from Ronald Kessler exposes some of the issues within—none of which has to do with gender. The agency is underfunded and under-staffed, suffers from retention problems, and simply does not "have enough people or the equipment to do protection the way they advertise they do," Kessler writes. Under Mark J. Sullivan's leadership, an anonymous agent told Kessler, "It's a miracle we have not had a successful assassination."