Amsterdam is a famously fun city that loves a good party, so someone getting drunk there is no big deal. Unless, of course, that someone happens to be there to protect the leader of the free world. Then, it is a very big deal, indeed.
By now, most have read about the U.S. Secret Service agents who were sent home from a presidential protection detail for getting drunk the day before President Barack Obama was to arrive.
One agent was so loaded, according to news reports, that he was found by hotel staff passed out in a hallway chair.
The embarrassment of the circumstance is compounded because the 150-year-old agency has been trying to restore its public image after revelations of a horrific sex scandal that occurred on a presidential trip to Colombia two years ago.
As one might expect, Secret Service Director Julia Pierson on Tuesday had a closed-door session with the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
In it, Pierson, who has been the director for a little more than a year, apparently assured senators that the agency was on top of the situation and that this second scandal was not evidence of a fraternity-house culture that was out of control.
"This is isolated incidents of misconduct and we're working to correct that behavior every day," Pierson told reporters after she met with the committee.
She later added that, "We're humans and people make mistakes."
True enough, but a service with such an important mission is not allowed very many such mistakes.
Isolated or not, these incidents are an embarrassment for the Secret Service and it must take some significant steps to see that there are no such additional incidents.
But make no mistake, this is the first real test of leadership for Pierson, who rose through the ranks of the service to become its first woman director.
Since taking office, Pierson had been quietly instituting reforms within the service that are designed to ensure against any repeat of the Colombia scandal. But now she clearly must take additional steps and probably some serious disciplinary action for those involved.
At the same time, we would argue that the known facts of this case suggest a greater need for some serious alcohol-abuse counseling. Anyone who so blatantly puts his important job at such risk for alcohol likely needs help beyond discipline.
Some in Congress have said that this second incident makes the case for greater congressional oversight of the Secret Service.
Really? Members of Congress ensuring against sex scandals and alcohol abuse? Wow, that's rich.
Frankly, right now, we would rather trust Director Pierson to do her job.