One understands why powerful people would be cautious. When you are surrounded with people who might wish to do you ill you take extra measures to protect yourself.
Kings and Emperors have often had official tasters to sample their food. If you saw the television series about the Borgia pope, you recall that poisoning your enemies was common political practice in the late fifteenth century.
Even today one might say that one cannot be too careful. Thus, President Obama has an official taster who samples his food before it passes through his presidential lips.
Some will say, naturally enough, that Obama is paranoid. I suspect that he likes to regale himself with the trappings of office, even if they bespeak a tendency to see himself more as an Emperor than as a president.
Recently, after Republicans called his bluff on the sequester President Obama discovered that his poll numbers were declining. The American people understood that his bluster about fiscal Armageddon was just that… bluster.
His polls told him that the American people wanted him to be working with Republicans, so Obama dutifully transported himself to Capital Hill for a lunch meeting with Senate Republicans.
But then, for reasons that remain shrouded in mystery, Obama forgot to bring along his official taster and therefore could not partake of the repast.
Perhaps, the taster was a casualty of sequestration.
Of course, when you are invited to lunch and you fail to break bread with your hosts you are being rude, disrespectful and condescending. You are suggesting that they might trying to poison you.
Obama’s gesture offers a glimpse into what he thinks of Republicans.
Maine Senator Susan Collins tried to alleviate the presidential anxiety, to no avail. She described the scene:
He looked longingly at [the food]…. He honestly did look longingly at it, but apparently he has to have essentially a taster, and I pointed out to him that we were all tasters for him, that if the food had been poisoned all of us would have keeled over so, but he did look longingly at it and he remarked that we have far better food than the Democrats do, and I said that was because I was hosting.
University of Maine recipe for healthy lobster salad — I pointed that out to the president in keeping with the first lady’s initiatives and Fox Family Potato Chips made in Aroostook County where I’m from and wild blueberry pie full of anti-oxidants, see this was a healthy lunch as well. We did have a little ice cream on the pie too, also made in Maine, Gifford’s Ice Cream. So in all seriousness this was well received.
It took him four years to get around to it, but it’s good to see the president trying to reach across the aisle. Yet, his good intentions were undermined by his failure to join the assembled Republicans in a lunch that they had prepared specially for him.