With the passing of George H.
W. Bush, political leaders in America and around the world paid their respects to the former chief executive. However, another group also remembers the former president with fondness and that’s none other than the Secret Service agents who were assigned to protect him.
According to the agents, Bush always treated them with respect and consideration unlike previous presidents Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter, former First Lady Hillary Clinton, and former Vice-President Al Gore.
Pete Dowling, a former agent, says Bush “made it clear to all his staff that none of them was a security expert, and if the Secret Service made a decision, he was the one to sign off on it, and they were never to question our decisions or make life difficult.
“So consequently it was kind of a moment in time because all the entities really worked well together to make his protection and the activities that he participated in successful.”
Like Ronald Reagan before him, Bush would also stay in Washington D.C. on Christmas Eve just so that agents could spend it with their families. He would only fly to Texas the day after Christmas.
Another former agent said, “Bush is a great man, just an all-around nice person. Both he and Mrs. Bush are very thoughtful, and they think outside their own little world. They think of other people.”
An agent who was also assigned to his detail agreed, saying: “Bush understands that politics is politics and friendship is friendship. He can be friends with a lot of people who may not agree with him. The only things that bothered him were things that were important to the country. Little things just kind of seemed to roll off of him.”
One particular anecdote describes how much of a next-door guy the elder Bush was in private. This one happened when he was still Vice President (with the code name Timberwolf),
Agents refer to the President’s Protective Detail as the Show while the VP’s detail is called the Little Show with Free Parking. This is because the vice president’s residence provides free parking for agents while the White House does not.
At that time, an agent named William Albracht was on the midnight shift. Since he was new to his post, Agent Dowling briefed him.
“Well, Bill, every day the stewards bake the cookies, and that is their job, and that is their responsibility,” Dowling said. “And then our responsibility on midnights is to find those cookies or those left from the previous day and eat as many of them as possible.”
Albracht was at the basement post and around 3 a.m. he was getting very hungry.
“We never had permission to take food from the kitchen, but sometimes you get very hungry on midnights,” said Albracht.
“I walked into the kitchen that was located in the basement and opened up the refrigerator. I’m hoping that there are some leftover snacks from that day’s reception, It was slim pickin’s. All of a sudden, there’s a voice over my shoulder.”
“’Hey, anything good in there to eat?’” the voice asked.
“No, looks like they cleaned it out,” Albracht replied.
“I turned around to see George Bush off my right shoulder,” Albracht said.
“After I get over the shock of who it was, Bush says, ‘Hey, I was really hoping there would be something to eat.’ And I said, ‘Well, sir, every day the stewards bake cookies, but every night they hide them from us.’
“With a wink of his eye, he says, ‘Let’s find ’em.’ So we tore the kitchen apart, and sure enough, we did find them. He took a stack of chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk and went back up to bed, and I took a stack and a glass of milk and went back to the basement post.”
When Albracht returned to his post, a confused Dowling asked, “Who the hell were you in there talking to?”
Albracht told the older agent what had happened. “Oh yeah, sure right,” Dowling said.
It’s obvious that the agents only have admiration for the elder Bush. But their experiences with former First Lady Hillary Clinton is in stark contrast to how the 41st president treated them.
As the spouse of a former president, Hillary Clinton also has her own protective detail. But agents say that she is so nasty that being assigned to her is considered a form of punishment and the worst duty assignment a Secret Service agent could get.
It just goes to show that people may not always remember what you did but they will always remember how you made them feel.