By Len Lazarick
Campaign biographies about political candidates are almost passé in this era of tweets and social media. But Dan Bongino’s new book “Life Inside the Bubble” actually has something interesting to say, besides revealing more personal details of the current candidate for Congress in the 6th District and last year’s nominee for U.S. Senate.
The final four chapters that are the most interesting are not about Bongino’s life with a single mom in Queens, N.Y., walking the beat as a NYPD cop, or his 12 years in the Secret Service, including the elite presidential protection detail. The most engaging chapters are his own analysis of law enforcement and protection controversies such as “Fast and Furious,” the Benghazi attack and the Boston Marathon bombing.
Early life and Secret Service career
We get a fairly nuanced picture of his early life, including topics he would omit in his standard stump speech, such as his mother’s abusive boyfriend.
The bulk of the book is about his Secret Service career, giving insight into what it is really like to shadow the president and first family throughout the world, and plan his travels near and far. That narrative is often bland, with few quotes. Almost all last names of colleagues have been dropped and all accounts of dignitary protection have been scrubbed of any detail that might reveal too much to anyone planning an attack.
What does come across as he traces his career up the Secret Service ladder is his growing disdain for the political staffers and the bureaucrats he must deal with.
“It seemed to me that the Obama White House staff lived in a utopian bubble devoid of any acknowledgment of real-world consequences,” he writes in the chapter about his anguish over the decision to leave. Later in the book, where he describes his own reaction to the aftermath of the Secret Service scandal with Colombian prostitutes, he charges that White House staff engaged in similar behavior, but offers no specifics.
Respect for Obama while rejecting his politics
While he professes deep respect for President Obama and his family, who he says treated him with dignity, Bongino could not stomach the president’s “ideological belief system, which tends to the extreme left.”
“I could not live without taking on an out-of-control government that I felt so passionately about challenging,” he writes.
Bongino attracted an extremely loyal band of more than 1,500 volunteers in his U.S. Senate campaign, which emphasized personal and economic liberty. But the book leaves the impression that he might have come close to winning if not for the surprise entrance of independent Rob Sobhani, who splurged $6 million of his own money on the race. In reality, incumbent Democrat Ben Cardin got 56% of the vote, and Bongino doesn’t even mention the presidential contest going on at the same time.
Analyzing prosecution, protection and security
In the final chapters, Bongino applies his own experience of law enforcement to three recent cases.
In the Fast and Furious gun trafficking case, he lambasts the U.S. Attorney system and the Justice Department for its insistence on pursuing the most winnable cases, and undermining law enforcement.
Using his own knowledge of a bureaucracy willing to sacrifice safety for politics, he is scathing about what he considers the obvious cover-up of failures to protect Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Libya, picking apart the security failures and the failure to respond.
“The alleged lack of information filtering up to the president and secretary of state regarding the unfolding emergency in Libya was in direct conflict with my personal experience within the walls of the 18-acre White House complex,” he writes, taking swipes at the “bureaucratic class.”
He believes the full story will eventually unfold as the survivors of the Benghazi attack, largely secluded from the media, eventually get to tell their stories.
Bongino says the failure to prevent the Boston Marathon bombing is emblematic of the proliferation of federal law enforcement “acting as their own independent enterprises and contributing to the growing bureaucratic fog.” There are “too many agencies, too many databases, and too many competing agendas.” He proposes a simplified structure for federal law enforcement to make it more effective.
And finally he decries “the evaporation of individual liberty” that comes from increased surveillance for security.
But he closes on a hopeful note. “We can fix this, but it is going to require a new era of citizen activism. .. Do not remain silent, because silence is complicity.”
At least for another six months or more, Bongino plans to continue to raise his voice in the political arena, and on conservative broadcast programs.