Jacob Volkmann is the former University of Minnesota wrestler who continues his athletic endeavors in ultimate fighting. He makes a living as a chiropractor in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, a suburb of St. Paul.
Volkmann prevailed in his most recent Ultimate Fighting Championship bout, against Antonio McKee, this past Saturday in Las Vegas. Following his win over McKee at UFC 125, Volkmann was interviewed by MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani. At the end of the interview Volkmann was asked whom he would like to fight next.
Volkmann replied that it didn’t matter, then added a political message deriving from his professional experience as a chiropractor: “Actually, Obama. He’s not too bright…. like the make a home affordable plan and his health care plan, someone needs to knock some sense into that idiot.”
Volkmann’s comments resulted in a visit from the Secret Service. The Secret Service showed up to ask him a few questions when he was coaching youth wrestling at White Bear Lake High School-North Campus. The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports the story here.
The job of protecting the president of the United States is among the most important and most difficult in the world, and the Secret Service does a good job of it. But something doesn’t sit right here.
UPDATE: A former Secret Service agent writes with this explanation:
As absurd as the story sounds (and it IS absurd), as a matter of policy, the Service investigates ALL statements that could be even remotely construed as a threat to one of their protectees. This same thing would have happened if Bush were still in the White House. In fact, it did, numerous times. On one occasion in 2005, the Service briefly questioned the great John Cleese after Cleese cracked a joke in a magazine interview about climbing a tower with a rifle to get the president. A buddy of mine — a huge Monte Python fan — was mortified to be given the task of confirming that, no, Mr. Cleese did not really intend to shoot the President. He felt just as stupid as I’m sure the agents interviewing Volkmann did.
Questioning Cleese was just as ridiculous as sending agents to question the UFC fighter. However, neither case reflected on the sitting president, because in neither case was the White House even consulted. The agents were simply following USSS policy.
I appreciate the explanation; Volkmann’s own account of the interview is perfectly consistent with it. I guess “remotely construed” is the operative language.