Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Why Do Secret Service Agents Dress Up?

I was checking out this slideshow on Obama's Secret Service detail the other day, and I came to wonder why the agents are always wearing suits and dress shoes.

I understand that there's a certain kind of G-man chic out there, and everyone dresses to impress these days, but it seems to me that these are hardly the duds anyone would choose to have on while running down bad guys — or even if the situation called for a sudden, catlike spring-into-action to take a bullet for Renegade.

This question has been sitting in the back of my mind for years, and it finally washed into my full consciousness when I came upon this "protective booty" photograph. As best I can gather from the shot and the caption, the agents are wearing New York Times newspaper bags over their feet so the cow dung won't mess up their suit pants and shoes. The dress shoes are non-functional enough — with the "booties" on, these agents' agility/mobility factors have got to be even more reduced.

I'm not asking for Spandex superhero costumes (Michael Chabon tells us — and rightly, to my mind — that these outfits are "preposterous" and impossible to render in the physical world, which fact probably explains the godawful pleather onesies Hollywood inflicted on The X-Men), but wouldn't something in a lightweight cotton or twill be a better bet? And more importantly, why not boots, or cross-trainers?

I'm sure I'm not the first person to consider this — classified white papers have been drafted on the subject, no doubt. Has the Secret Service concluded that the intimidation factor of having the big guys in suits outweighs what you lose in mobility? Is form function in this case? I might buy that argument. But if the rationale for the suits is simply that it undercuts the dignity of the President's office to have his elite bodyguards wearing Nikes and sweats — well, I'll refer you again to the "booty" photo.

Those are just the secret service agents you see. The secret secret service agents never get photographed. Of course, that's not even the real Obama — just a scrawny imitation. The real Obama has pecs of steel.

Why is everybody on this blog suddenly in water? Is there some big pool party I haven't been invited to?

Worth noting, too, that with this photo we've achieved a 1:1 blogwide ratio of nipples to Google Map embeds. That should be a good figure to flog around in our promo materials.

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