Obama, Weiner And The Media: Time To Get Adult

Posted by | June 14, 2011 18:47 | Filed under: Contributors News Behaving Badly Opinion Sandi Behrns

by Sandi Behrns

Appearing on NBC’s “Today” show Tuesday, President Obama had this to say when asked about the Weinergate scandal and Anthony Weiner’s political future:

“I think he’s embarrassed himself. He’s acknowledged that. He’s embarrassed his wife and his family. Ultimately, there’s gonna be a decision for him and his constituents. I can tell you that, if it was me, I would resign.”

Oh, really? One wonders if Obama would have even said this much were Weiner a Republican.  My guess is that he would have remained silent. But the fact remains that the question was asked, and the president answered. He then went on to explain:

“And when you get to the point where, because of various personal distractions, you can’t serve as effectively as you need to at the time when people are worrying about jobs, and their mortgages, and paying the bills, then you should probably step back.”

It says a lot about the state of American politics, media and society in general, that Anthony Weiner’s virtual sex life, titillating though it may be, is the biggest scandal in the land.  In an email exchange this afternoon, Digby put a different spin on the president’s words:

Right. There are distractions and then there are DISTRACTIONS.

When you get to the point where you are so focused on deficits and bond vigilantes and how you are going to collect a billion dollars for your campaign, you can’t serve as effectively as you need to at the time when people are worrying about jobs and their mortgages and paying the bills.

Digby is spot-on here. Of course, this is not to indict Obama alone; the entire Federal government has gone down this rabbit hole, as the economy teeters on the brink of a double-dip recession, if not out-right depression. (Pardon the mixed metaphors.) The media, meanwhile, seems to be the most distracted: chasing ratings rather than informing the public. We’re still waiting for any kind of  “adult conversation.”

The sudden decision by Democratic leaders (Pelosi, Wasserman Schultz and now Obama) to call for the resignation of a member who has not been shown to have broken any laws has taken many on both the left and right by surprise. The justification we keep hearing? Distraction. From what, I wonder? From Democratic capitulation to GOP demands to slash budgets and plunge us into an economic abyss? Maybe we could all use that kind of distraction.

In the end, though, this is not about an obstacle to Democrats getting things done; this is about the next election. If Democrats stand steadfastly behind Weiner (as Republicans would do for one of their own), it blunts the possible attacks on the GOP. The difference, of course, is that John Ensign and David Vitter did break actual laws, and the GOP still stood behind them.  I would be fine with an argument that Democrats are different, and that it’s not about party loyalty and elections… except that it’s a lie. Democrats are different in how they handle these things, but it’s still very much about the next election.

Here’s a tip, Democrats: Absolutely nothing about the Weinergate saga could possibly derail Democratic hopes in 2012 the way another 16 months of 10% unemployment will. It’s past time for that adult conversation.

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Sandi Behrns

Sandi Behrns is a noted policy nerd, new media & web developer, and consultant to progressive organizations and campaigns. She is a senior contributor to Liberaland, and the Executive Editor of Progressive Congress News.

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