What a difference a year makes when it comes to breaches of presidential security. Oh, how the world laughed when an Iraqi reporter threw his shoes at President Bush during a news conference in Baghdad on December 14 last year. The episode in the waning days of the Bush administration was catnip for the chattering class: an aptly ludicrous finale for a presidency that smug critics had lampooned at every opportunity.

Yet when a genuinely comic security lapse occurred nearly 12 months later—the invasion of a White House state dinner by a couple apparently bent on the shabby fame of reality TV—the same folks who guffawed at the Baghdad shoe-throwing episode fretted about the potential threat to President Obama. A congressional hearing was quickly convened for the airing of much worried tut-tutting.

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