Acing the Background Check

by Mark Steyn

In my weekend column, I salute Thamsanqa Jantjie, the game but incompetent sign-language interpreter who translated the Mandela funeral dignitaries’ speeches into utter gibberish for the bargain rate of $4.20 per world leader:

How heartening, as one watches the viral video of Obama droning on while a mere foot and a half away Mr. Jantjie rubs his belly and tickles his ear, to think that the White House’s usual money-no-object security operation went to the trouble of flying in Air Force One, plus the “decoy” Air Force One, plus support aircraft, plus the 120-vehicle motorcade or whatever it’s up to by now, plus a bazillion Secret Service agents with reflector shades and telephone wire dangling from their ears, to shepherd POTUS into the secured venue and then stand him onstage next to an $85-a-day violent schizophrenic.

On that last point, the South African website eNCA reports:

The man now known by many as the ‘fake interpreter’, stood just a foot away from world leaders, including US President Barack Obama, who is one of the most heavily protected men on the planet.

In theory, yes. However:

eNCA’s investigations have found that Thamsanqa Jantjie, who is being treated for schizophrenia, has also faced rape (1994), theft (1995), housebreaking (1997), malicious damage to property (1998), murder, attempted murder and kidnapping (2003) charges.

What exactly do all those security guys in the Presidential motorcade do?