Tag Archive: Monica Lewinsky


“I don’t have a racist bone in my body.” — President Donald Trump

At least he’s not a “crook” or didn’t have sex with “that woman,” Monica Lewinsky?

“I do not believe you are a racist.” — Senator Kamala Harris casting doubt on the integrity of former Vice President Joe Biden

Are you sure about that, Kamala?

By incorporating the good name of Joe Biden and “racist” in the same sentence, was Senator Harris connecting the former vice president with this über-charged word? Talk about damning with faint praise.

Kamala knows full well that, “I do not believe you (Biden) are a racist,” is subjunctive. I don’t believe you are, but Mr. Vice President … you could be.

The damage was done.

The real question Almost DailyBrett is posing today: Is the word, “racist,” in danger of becoming just another delicious condiment for every outrageous political attack sandwich?

Let’s see … should we slap some “racist” on sour dough at this contact sport delicatessen? Maybe, we can add “sexist” as another ingredient? How about “homophobic” and/or “transphobic” as well? Hmmm … a juicy racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic … political invective sandwich.

Consider the debating points of Elizabeth Warren: “We live in a country now where the president is advancing environmental racism, economic racism, criminal justice racism, health care racism.”  If you are scoring at home that is four racisms in one mere sentence.

By employing … over-employing … these venomous words time-and-time again …  to humiliate a political opponent and silence dissent … is the power and shock value of these words becoming diluted? Will Americans between now and November 3, 2020 (and beyond) just roll their collective eyes when they once again hear the words, “racist” or “racism” bandied about?

It really doesn’t matter whether the word is being used as an adjective (e.g., “racist tweets”) or a noun (e.g., … not a racist), racist is now so accepted, the media is employing it without qualifiers, such as alleged racist, charged racist, accused racist. Instead the political target is just … an unmitigated, unadulterated, categorical … racist. Will the word have the same power next year that it has this year?

According to Merriam-Webster, cliché equates to a “trite phrase or expression, a hackneyed theme, characterization or situation, something that has become overly familiar or commonplace.”

If a Catholic high school lad is standing at a rally in Washington D.C., wearing a MAGA hat (Make America Great Again), is he “racist” or practicing “racism” by doing nothing and saying absolutely nothing?

“We’re a Catholic school and it’s not tolerated. They don’t tolerate racism and none of my classmates are racist people.” — Nick Sandmann responding to NBC’s Savannah Guthrie’s predictable, “Are you a racist?” question.

Wonder if Almost DailyBrett is going to have “racism” lathered on his sandwich for daring to raise the spectre that the Mother of All Charged Words is maybe losing its steam? Are we overdosing on “racist” and “racism” opioids?

Barack, Who?

Remember Barack Obama’s, “Yes We Can,” campaign?

He won and the motto was updated to “Yes We Did” in a transformative moment when America took the extraordinary step of electing an African-American to the White House.

As Almost DailyBrett mentioned before, America proved once again it’s an extraordinary and exceptional nation by rising above ancient racist dialogue to prove the overwhelming majority can set aside any and all consideration of one’s ethnicity, when deciding who was going to lead the free world in the second decade of the 21st Century.

Have to admit it, your author back in 2009 was wondering about Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. With Obama’s historic election, what were they going to talk about?

Keep in mind that not only was Barack Obama elected and re-elected, America passed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, ended segregation laws, implemented Brown v. Board of Education (Topeka, Kansas), and abolished slavery with the 13th Amendment. We have come a long way from America’s “Birth Defect” of slavery as described by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

What happens if the battle is over and the war is won? As it turns out, “racist” and “racism” are once again daily entrees featured on any political attack menu.

Your author is NOT suggesting the last vestiges of racism have been completely wiped off the fruited plain. They exist. Having said that, Almost DailyBrett does not concur with the insinuation the 62 million Americans, who did not vote for Hillary Clinton, are indeed “racist.”

The fight is not over, but does the word “racist” need to be employed by every pandering candidate and every screaming talking head on cable television?

Are we going to reach a point that we collectively tune out the word, leading to the possibility that we do not respond to a real racist hate crime?

As Senator Cory Booker said: “Trump is worse than a racist.” Will there be a new attack dog word to follow, “racist”?

Almost DailyBrett believes the once verboten in proper company, F-word … oh WTF … the word “fuck” has become routine and cliché.

Will “racist” join the ranks of words that once were used sparingly, but have now become oh-so-commonplace in our coarse society?

Almost DailyBrett thought long and hard about even raising this volatile subject. The fact that journalists and correspondents are cavalierly using this attack word without any qualifiers is yet another example of growing Opposition Journalism, and another nail in the coffin of Objective Journalism.

How many nanoseconds are there between now and the close of the polls, November 3, 2020?

Wonder how many times the word, “racist,” will be conventionally and digitally uttered, printed and transmitted between now and then? Hundreds? Thousands? Millions? Billions?

Will this practice stop once the election has come and gone?

Don’t count on it.

https://www.politico.com/story/2019/07/16/trump-attack-progressive-congresswomen-1416579

Watch Kamala Harris Demolish Joe Biden on Race During the Democratic Debate

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/10/27/what-happened-to-the-exceptional-nation-that-twice-elected-barack-obama/

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/clich%C3%A9

https://www.vox.com/2019/1/22/18192908/covington-catholic-video-nick-sandmann-maga

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2019/07/22/limbaugh_if_you_can_be_worse_than_a_racist_it_means_the_word_is_losing_its_impact.html

 

 

 

“After the United States gobbled up California and half of Mexico, and we (Nazi Germany) were stripped down to nothing, territorial expansion suddenly becomes a crime. It’s been going on for centuries, and it will still go on,” – Hermann Goering at the Nürnberg Trials

The charges at the Nürnberg Trials focused on Nazi Germany’s conspiracy to wage global war, and as a result millions were left dead across devastated Europe, and more than 6 million perished in the Holocaust.

The 1945-1946 Nürnberg judicial proceedings had zero to do with the 19th Century US acquisition of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas following the Mexican War. Goering’s lame attempt at “WhatAboutism?” ultimately failed as a legal tactic.

And while Goering dodged the hangman’s noose via a cyanide tablet, the practice of “WhatAboutism?,” clumsily evading inconvenient subjects with rhetorical deflections, is alive and well in our 21st Century discourse.

If the subject is the #MeToo movement, why do more than a few Democrats say “WhatAbout Donald Trump (e.g., Stormy Daniels)?” and more than a few Republicans chime in with “WhatAbout Bill Clinton (Monica Lewinsky)?” Neither gent is a paragon of virtue. We all know that.

Isn’t the real subject about sexual harassment/abuse targeting women regardless of the perpetrator’s side of the political divide or profession (i.e., major networks, Hollywood …)?

Shouldn’t we address and endeavor as a civilized society to solve these widespread abuses targeting women? Or should we deflect attention (“What about … ?”) to avoid an uncomfortable subject, and better yet score political points?

Is “WhatAboutism?” the first-and-last recourse of the intellectually vanquished?

Does “WhatAboutism” Say More About The Perpetrator or The Receiver?

“He (Vice President Mike Pence) thinks abortion is murder, which first of all don’t knock it till you try it. And when you do try it, really knock it—you know, you’ve got to get that baby out of there.” – Michelle Wolf at the White House Correspondents Association dinner

“Essentially a reversal of accusation, arguing that an opponent is guilty of an offense just as egregious or worse.” – Merriam-Webster definition of WhatAboutism

Every time, Almost DailyBrett hears a “WhatAboutism?,” a series of stages ensues in this order:

  1. Eyes roll (again); 2. Concludes that a nerve has been hit by the impulsive “WhatAbout?” reaction. 3. Realizes the “WhatAbout?” rejoinder is only intended to deflect attention/change the subject 4. Almost DailyBrett is even more determined than ever to stay on the subject, triggering a second “WhatAbout …?”

You can run Mr. or Ms. “WhatAbout?,” but you can’t hide.

If Hermann Goering can reference the Mexican War, why can’t we raise the “WhatAbout?” question about the Norman Conquest, and maybe even the Romans?

If a decent person with integrity questions Michelle Wolf’s absolutely hilarious abortion/tampon jokes at the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) dinner, does mere dissent instinctively draw a “What About” rejoinder from the defenders of “Oppositional Journalism”?

Hey just think. … Maybe … just maybe … Michelle Wolf’s lame attempt at below-the-belt, bathroom humor (e.g., cruelly directed at White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and others) was totally inappropriate for a black tie dinner of the objective Fourth Estate in Washington, D.C.?.

Instead of deflecting questions about the Wolf’s vile, hate speech with an “WhatAbout?” interrogative, why can’t the responder instead ask whether the WHCA actually vetted the speaker?

Why can’t the receiver of incoming rhetorical arrows actually make a stand, and put up a spirited defense? How about the tried-and-true response from your author’s Sacramento days:

When all else fails: declare victory.  Thinking: (“Yep, we won … And here’s why).

Instead of affixing our rhetorical bayonets and rallying all the ethos, logos and pathos at our disposal, way too many “WhyAboutists” are simply deflecting their responses to some other notorious example (e.g., Mexican War) – many times unrelated —  to return fire.

The “WhatAboutists?” think they are so smug, when in reality they are waving their intellectual white flags.

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Hermann_G%C3%B6ring

https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/whataboutism-origin-meaning

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/whataboutism-what-about-it/2017/08/17/4d05ed36-82b4-11e7-b359-15a3617c767b_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.6f53b84cac9f

https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-dogs-breakfast-of-a-dinner-1525388174

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/oppositional-journalism/

 

 

 

 

 

Damning with Negatives

I am not a crook.” – Richard Nixon.

Watergate.

I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” – Bill Clinton.

Monica Lewinsky.

People will complain, but this is not excessive.” University of Oregon Athletic Director Rob Mullens about the school’s over-the-top $68 million (at least) football building.

Ferrari Leather.

She’s not out of touch.” – Bill Clinton defending Hillary’s “dead broke” comments.

Hillary’s more than $200,000 per speech; $5 million New York home and more, much more.

hillarysawyer

What possesses some of the best-and-the-brightest to essentially confirm an allegation with a poorly conceived negative response, some of which become eternally enshrined? The same applies with those who use negative statements to try to overturn a mistatement or worse, a damaging gaffe.

Aren’t there more positive ways to deflect charges, clearing the way for a candidate, office holder or organization to move on, avoid less-than-pleasant headlines, and better yet, allow an incident to pass into history (if that is indeed possible)?

“When did you stop beating your wife?”

Reporter: “Would you say that (insert pejorative word)…”

Think of it this way: A reporter, editor, correspondent just handed you a rope and gave you the opportunity to hang yourself and by extension your employer.  As a former gubernatorial press secretary for eight years and corporate spokesman for a decade, the author of Almost DailyBrett is wise to the majority of the tricks employed by the less than scrupulous members of the Fourth Estate.

Reporter thinking: ‘Hmmm…let’s see if I can build a lead and related headline by coaxing an incendiary quote?’

Is Almost DailyBrett accusing the certain members of the media (and they know who they are) of trying to bait flacks and by extension their clients with inflammatory words in this discussion? The answer based upon oodles of experience is an unqualified, “yes.”

reporters

There are two iron-clad rules that one immediately learns from media training:

1.)   Always have an agenda. Know and rehearse your message points and what headlines you want to attempt to create before you talk to the ladies and gents of the media (both legacy and digital native media).

2.)   Never, ever let reporters, editors, correspondents, bloggers et al. put words in your mouth. Deliver your message the way it is intended whether the media representative likes it or not. If the same question is rephrased with the same incendiary or similar word or words, duck the offer and come back with an answer based upon your agenda. If the media rep becomes upset, so be it. Most likely, this will not be your first fight with a reporter.

Self-Inflicted Wounds 

Watergate finally caught up with Nixon, prompting him to read the obvious writing on the wall and become the first president to resign in disgrace. His legacy also includes the aforementioned, “I am not a crook” statement.

Almost DailyBrett will not add to the plethora of commentary about the Monica Lewinsky affair other than to contend that Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” is close to top of mind when it comes to contemplating the former president, eternally impacting his personal brand.

monicabill

Benghazi was expected to be the tough subject for Hillary’s Hard Choices book tour. Instead it was her comment to ABC’s Diane Sawyer about how the Clintons were “dead broke” and “struggled” financially when they left the White House in 2001.

This comment set off the media digging to find out just how “broke” the Clintons actually were including $106 million for Bill, $200,000 a speech for Hillary and $600,000 a year for Chelsea from the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. 

Bill subsequently kept the story going … yes this story does have legs … with his “she is not out of touch” comment. How about just saying the critics are wrong, and detail how Hillary understands the needs of middle and lower-class Americans trying to make ends meet?

That’s a positive response.

Bill’s, she is “Not-Out-of-Touch” explanation triggered a response from Hillary: “My husband was very sweet … but I don’t need anybody to defend my record.”

This story seemingly does not want to die. It has overshadowed the Hillary triumphant book tour, and it was egged on by inartful comments by both Clinton spouses, and a delighted media.

The lessons here are to remain on message. Stay with your preconceived agenda. If a slip does occur … flacks, politicians, executives etc are all human … don’t compound the gaffe with a defensive negative response.

The answer here is to stay positive, eschew any negatives particularly those force-fed by the media, and maybe even flash a winning smile. The net result may be a story that heads to the ash heap of history as opposed to a quote that becomes one for the ages.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/hillary-clinton-draws-criticism-at-opening-of-book-tour-by-saying-she-was-dead-broke/2014/06/10/c376ceaa-f0b7-11e3-914c-1fbd0614e2d4_story.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/06/24/bill-clinton-says-hillary-is-not-out-of-touch/?wpisrc=nl_pmpol

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/some-democrats-fear-clintons-wealth-and-imperial-image-could-be-damaging-in-2016/2014/06/22/526746e6-f7eb-11e3-a3a5-42be35962a52_story.html

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/06/hillary-clinton-bill-clinton-defense-108292.html

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/06/hillary-clinton-stumbles-from-dead-broke-to-not-truly-well-off/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-the-clintons-went-from-dead-broke-to-rich-bill-earned-1049-million-for-speeches/2014/06/26/8fa0b372-fd3a-11e3-8176-f2c941cf35f1_story.html?wpisrc=nl%5Fhdtop

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/university-of-nike/

 

 

Whatever you admit, acknowledge or concede, particularly in a supercharged political environment, will be published or broadcast 99 percent of the time.

“I am not a crook.” – Richard Nixon

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” – Bill Clinton

“We fumbled the rollout on this health-care law.” – Barack Obama

obamanews

Consider as Exhibit A the following passage from the Washington Post about President Barack Obama’s Thursday news conference on the troubled Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare):

The president was contrite, and his admissions were many — he conceded that he was left in the dark about aspects of the crowning achievement of his presidency, he acknowledged that he and his advisers underestimated how hard it would be to sell insurance over a Web site…”

In most cases the media … both digital and conventional … has the attention span of a gnat. Remember the government shutdown or the debt ceiling crisis? Ho-hum. That was yesterday’s news.

What is Miley Cyrus smoking onstage or not wearing today?

Having made this point, there are obvious exceptions and these all have legs (no pun intended). These are stories that the media latch onto and, similar to a Gila monster, will not let go until sundown.

Each and every exciting installment of Watergate defined and eventually ended the Nixon presidency in utter disgrace.

The Monicagate impeachment proceedings did not terminate the Clinton White House, but to this day the president’s extracurricular activities with his intern still comes front of mind when president #42 is discussed and assessed.

And now the “crowning achievement” of the Obama presidency is unraveling before our very eyes, and with it his approval rating. The media is more than happy to report as the president and Obamacare head downward-to-the-right.

In no way does Almost DailyBrett morally equate Watergate, Monica Lewinsky and Obamacare. Nonetheless each is a seminal story that defines a presidency and each has “legs” that the media feasted or feasts upon.

Former Vice President Spiro Nolo Contendere Agnew was absolutely the wrong messenger to deliver the infamous William Safire conceived line about the media: Nattering Nabobs of Negativism.

52237408AW009_MEET_THE_PRES

Even the president seems to agree when he lectured the media Thursday: “The things that go right, you guys aren’t going to write about.” (Guess that would apply to you gals as well.)

Let’s face it: the media thrives on train wrecks and plane crashes. Like a pack of hungry hyenas, the media has an insatiable appetite for what is known in the trade, good dirt. The words, pack mentality, apply directly to the media, who conceive and spread among themselves organic ideas about precisely what went wrong.

Most of all the media elites in particular are looking for telltale signs they are right. This is where admissions, acknowledgements and concessions come into play.

Certainly, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton did not admit or concede anything regarding Watergate or Monicagate respectively. However, each in his own way (Not a Crook, Nixon and That Woman, Clinton) acknowledged for the joyful media the elephant in the room of their respective debacles.

Obama with his football metaphor about fumbling the ball did admit, acknowledge and concede that virtually everything and anything has gone wrong with Obamacare, including failing to live up to the promise that people could keep their health insurance policies, if they wish too.

Americans historically are a forgiving people.

Some contend that it would have been better for Obama to come clean earlier about his oft-repeated promise that if you like your health insurance policy you can keep it is simply not true. Was he misled by his own administration or did he mislead? Neither is good. The media wants to know.

whitehousebriefingroom

From a public relations standpoint, the right counsel is to advise the chief executive to face reality, own up, be contrite and seek forgiveness. Most of all, what is the chief executive and her or his administration going to do about it?

The rub comes with a media that is always looking for signs of weakness, particularly after building up a reputation and brand, senses that proverbial blood is in the water. Presidents, governors, senators, chief executives etc. are generally reluctant to give the media satisfaction (e.g., Nixon in particular).

And when they do, these can become defining moments that have the potential to be eternally enshrined. That was true for Nixon and Clinton. That may or not be true for Obama.

Obama’s advantage is he still has time, but not unlimited time. He officially becomes a lame duck one year from now. Somehow, someway Obamacare needs to finally work for him.

If not, the media, the historians and the country will remember his Obamacare “fumble” and the day he admitted, acknowledged and conceded.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obamato-to-announce-change-to-address-health-insurance-cancellations/2013/11/14/3be49d24-4d37-11e3-9890-a1e0997fb0c0_story.html?wpisrc=nl_politics

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-does-health-care-fumble-mean-game-over-for-obama/2013/11/15/77dc0b0a-4dfa-11e3-be6b-d3d28122e6d4_story.html?wpisrc=nl_politics

http://www.cnbc.com/id/101202677

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Safire

http://www.nolocontendere.org/historyofnolo.html

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/miley-cyrus-biggest-feminists-article-1.1517413

“Well, I really don’t think there’s any word in the English language that expresses so many different things as the word ‘f…’ does. You know, you can use surprise. ‘Well I’ll be f…ked.’ You can use the word ‘f…’ to indicate anger. ‘F… you.’ You can use the word ‘f…’ to indicate dismay. ‘Oh, f….’ I just think it probably is the most expressive word our language has.” – Former Indiana University Basketball Coach Robert Montgomery Knight

Quit f…ing black cops or get booted from the Communist party,‘” – New York Times’ fashionable “T” magazine, quoting the opening line of Jonathan Lethem’s “Dissident Gardens,” August 25, 2013

WTF?

knight

Seems like a few folks are getting their knickers in a twist or their bowels in an uproar (if you prefer the latter) over the F-Bomb exploded in the stately New York Times this past Sunday, even if it is a direct quote.

Is this a first for the Gray Lady? Not really.

“In a recorded conversation later on October 6, Ms. Lewinsky said she wanted two things from the President. The first was contrition: He needed to ” acknowledge . . . that he helped f… up my life.’ The second was a job, one that she could obtain without much effort: ”I don’t want to have to work for this position . . . I just want it to be given to me.” – The 1998 Starr Report on the physical relationship between former President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.

Having acknowledged the precedent a generation ago, one may be prompted to ask: Is this yet another sign of the coarsening of our society? Have we become immune to this particular four-letter word?

Does this mean there will be no more “F-bombs” being dropped on once-shocked ears? Is the notion of the F-bomb antiquated? Do we mind, if our Kindern hear and use this word?

Years ago virtually every sports nut read John Feinstein’s 1986 Season on the Brink about chair-throwing and more-than-once-out-of-control Bobby Knight. Reportedly, it was the first sports book ever to make the New York Times best seller list.

Knight’s spoof television interview, egged on by a reporter asking the legendary coach why he used the F-word so much, was one of the key passages in Feinstein’s book. It exhibited Knight’s boorishness and his sense of humor at the same time.

Whether you condone or detest Bobby Knight, and everyone has an opinion about “The General,” one can see the logic behind his series of examples as to how the F-word is the most “expressive” word in the English language. It seems that everywhere you go; people are using F…ing as an adjective to modify virtually every noun. And don’t we all know acronyms that feature the word (e.g., FUBAR)?  Or people are substituting friggin’ or frickin’ for F…ing. You have to be brain-dead to not catch the parallel in two nanoseconds or less.

Even though I do not worship daily at the altar of the New York Times, I do NOT take issue with the editors directly quoting the first line of a book (if that is necessary to convey the story) or to allow the word to stand, when the paper decided to publish the Starr report intact.

nyt

Should this short word be regularly used in New York Times generated copy or worse, for banner heads? My answer is “no.”

Some readers of Almost DailyBrett may remember my piece asking whether the C-word (used by Bill Maher) has become the equivalent of the N-word (represented by Bull Connor). Almost DailyBrett made an unequivocal stand against both words, advocating that they be stricken from our national discourse.

Okay, so what are the distinctions among the C-word, the N-word and the F-word?

How long do you have?

The C-word is universally demeaning to women in every context.  There is no excuse for its use.

The N-word is universally demeaning to African Americans in every context. There is no excuse for its use.

These words hurt and they are meant to be harmful. Let’s get rid of them.

The F-word can be hurtful when it is used as an imperative as expressed above by Bobby Knight.

Should we be comfortable with the knowledge that the F-word is ubiquitous? I wouldn’t want it to be recited in first grade, let alone pre-school or kindergarten. Should newspaper editors or bloggers for that matter allow free reign when it comes to the F-word? Nyet.

My question to these editors and bloggers: Is this word a legitimate part of the story or is its use gratuitous as is the case in so many movies and rock concerts? If it is the latter, my advice is to exercise discretion.

After all, discretion is the better part of valor. WTF.

http://www.hark.com/clips/xgnhsfxrkf-bobbys-favorite-word

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5-akqjKzII

http://www.thewrap.com/media/column-post/ny-times-allows-f-word-113341

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Qxu5cvW-ds

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/is-the-c-word-the-equivalent-of-the-n-word/

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2013/08/26/nyt_fuck_in_apparent_first_new_york_times_publishes_jonathan_lethem_s_f.html

http://www.amazon.com/Dissident-Gardens-Novel-Jonathan-Lethem/dp/0385534930

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/75639.Season_on_the_Brink

weiner

“It’s only a blow j..”

How many times has the author of Almost DailyBrett heard Clintonistas defend the former president’s eight years in the Oral Office with this almost instinctive reaction?

Is it only an act of oral sex between consenting adults: One the leader of the free world and the other an intern from Lewis & Clark College? Or does it speak to the judgment of the nation’s highest ranking public servant at the time?

As the old axiom goes: “Good government is good politics.”

Does getting caught with your pants down run counter to either good government or good politics? And if so, does that unspeakable act(s) spell curtains for the offenders? Does the Schlange trump the brain? Does anyone care, anymore?

Maybe we should take a hike along the “Appalachian Trail.”

Nearly three decades ago the mere cheating on one’s spouse could spell doom to one’s political aspirations, particularly for the highest office in the land. A perfect example is the 1984 end of former Senator Gary Hart’s “New Ideas” campaign in the wake of his widely dispersed photograph, triumphantly displaying Donna Rice aboard the “Monkey Business.”

The careers of former Oregon Senator Bob Packwood and Washington Senator Brock Adams came to premature ends in the 1990s as a result of the senators intermingling with nice looking office staffers serving boxed wine and Mickey Finn’s respectively.

Former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom violated the so-called “Man rule” by having an affair with the wife of his deputy chief of staff/campaign manager. Newsom is now California’s lieutenant governor. His career is far from over.

In 1992, then Governor Bill Clinton accompanied by then Arkansas First Lady Hillary Clinton heroically defended the governor’s extra-curricular activities with Jennifer Flowers on a memorable edition of 60 Minutes.

As it turns out, Mizz Flowers was a prelude for Kathleen Willey and she was a predecessor for Paula Corbin Jones and then came an intern by the name of Monica Lewinsky.

And for the past 15 years in the wake of the Kenneth Starr Report and the political resurrection of William Jefferson Clinton the rationalization has been oft-repeated: “It’s only a blow j..”

The inference is the conducting of the office was not impacted, so what is the big deal?

This question comes full circle (no pun intended) with the comeback attempts of former Rep. Anthony Weiner, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, the desperate actions of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner and the recent election of former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford.

What unifies these four political animals (and presumably others) is the desire to remain/return to the game despite questionable judgment when it comes to their zippers.

Sanford hiked the “Appalachian Trail” to cover up his affair in Argentina. He was recently elected to a South Carolina House seat, a come down from being the state’s chief executive. He is still in the game for now.

Weiner is attempting to become Gotham’s Mayor despite sexting his junk (Weiner’s Wiener) via Twitter to chosen damsels across the fruited plain.

Spitzer wants to be New York City Comptroller after being “Customer No. 9” run by the madam at the exclusive Emperor’s Club.

And Filner is apologizing to anybody and everybody, even forcing his staff to take sexual harassment training, in an attempt to survive and let the whole thing blow over.

Does this mean the public is numb to sexual escapades and that we really don’t care what goes on in the executive bedroom or even the White House? According to recent polls in New York, the public cares less about sexual adventures than it does a politician putting his or her hand in the public coffer. Both Weiner and Spitzer are benefitting from his lack of overall concern about flexible morals and they are all capitalizing on their respective name IDs.

Indeed, the level of public tolerance has changed, even though we should note and even celebrate that Presidents Reagan, Bush I, Bush II and Obama all conceivably went home to their respective spouses every evening.

My boss, former California Governor George Deukmejian, went home each night to Gloria, the kids, the beagles and his beloved jamoca-almond fudge. As his press secretary, I slept better at night knowing this fact, even though his cholesterol count was most likely higher than it should have been.

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Having acknowledged the obvious change in public attitudes, there are limits to popular acceptance. Take would be President/Vice President and former Senator John Edwards. He cheated on his dying wife, Elizabeth, with his videographer. He lied about it. He had a love child with the same videographer, Rielle Hunter. He lied about the child. His wife died after fighting against breast cancer while her husband cheated and lied.

071218-rielle-hunter1

The mantra of crisis communications is: Tell the Truth, Tell it Fast, Tell it All, Move On.

Edwards got only one right. He tried to simply Move On.

Messrs.’ Sanford, Weiner, Spitzer, Newsom and Filner are trying to Move On as well.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/07/13/2013-elections-marked-by-candidates-seeking-redemption-will-voters-forgive/?test=latestnews

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2013/07/16/how-anthony-weiner-and-eliot-spitzer-are-winning/?wpisrc=nl_politics

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/men-and-their-schlanges/

http://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/AIDE-QUITS-AS-NEWSOM-S-AFFAIR-WITH-HIS-WIFE-IS-2652745.php#photo-2105071

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eliot_Spitzer_prostitution_scandal

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-filner-claims-20130715,0,6397291.story

There comes a time in every political administration when directing blame at previous incumbent, so-in-so, comes across as weak finger-pointing rather than a strong proclamation of historical fact.

Reflecting back to my days as former California Governor George Deukmejian’s second press secretary, I distinctly recall a meeting of the entire senior staff chaired by the governor. The message was clear: No more blaming Jerry Brown… (His first tenure of Jerry Brown as governor of California).

George Deukmejian Campaigning

The reason: This was not our first rodeo. The stewardship of the state was our responsibility. From this point forward, there would be no more public denunciation of the administration of the state by our predecessor. This point was particular relevant to me as I was duly serving as the governor’s chief spokesman, historian and message developer.

Making this rhetorical pivot was not as easy as it seems. We had literally spent months heading into years reminding anybody and everybody who would listen that Brown left us a $1.5 billion deficit (almost seems quaint by today’s standards). We fought against a myriad of tax increases proposed by the opposition, even to the point of forcing the governor to live in Sacramento’s best hotel at the time, the Holiday Inn (a long story for another time). When the smoke settled, the state retired the deficit without raising taxes and we established a $1 billion reserve for emergencies.

Those were the days my friends, I thought they would never end…

And yet with any administration, there were fires to put out and FUBARs to fix. Our toxics program was a mess, requiring the program to be run out of the chief of staff’s office. There was a massive delay in the doling out of restitution to victims of violent crime, prompting Mike Wallace to call me demanding a “60 Minutes” interview with the governor.

And let’s not forget that Mother Nature can be very unkind. There were fires. There were floods. There was the drought. There were states of emergency. And there was the Loma Prieta Earthquake, resulting in me being told that the “Bay Bridge is in the Water!”

cypressstructure

One would think that an administration would be given a Mulligan for a natural catastrophe. One would be thinking incorrectly. When the top deck of the Cypress Structure of the 880 came crashing down on the motorists of the lower deck, the ladies and gentlemen of the Capitol Press Corps wanted to immediately assign blame to us. We were at the top and a permanent bull’s eye was affixed to our collective backsides. It’s totally unfair, but nothing is totally fair in politics and government. As Mary Matalin has said repeatedly: “Politics is a contact sport.”

Obviously, it would have been ridiculous to bring up the name of Jerry Brown in the context of the toxics mess, the failure of the victims of violent crime compensation program and of course, the Earthquake. Believe it or not, Mother Nature can be equally cruel to Democrats and Republicans alike.

Surveying the present day landscape, the Obama administration is well beyond its infancy, honeymoon period, and the much ballyhooed “First 100 days.” The administration of George W. Bush matters less with every passing day. Election Day is four months away. It is no longer early; in fact it is way past early.

Pointing fingers at the most famous denizen of Crawford, Texas and proclaiming, “It could have been worse” does not harken back to the bold statements of Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Harry Truman, JFK or the Gipper. Even Bill Clinton’s, “I didn’t have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky…” comes across more decisive.

Friday’s poor jobs report with only 80,000 created and the unemployment rate remaining stuck at 8.2 percent for June (while there were 85,000 first-time applications for disability in the same month) calls for an all-hands on deck crisis communications exercise.

Instead of blaming the predecessor the hard and fast rules for crisis communication should come into play in the face of inevitable adversity: Tell the truth; Tell it All; Tell it Fast and Move On (Isn’t there an organization by that name?).

Repeating the playbook of former President George H.W. Bush in combating both Clinton and a lousy economy by telling everyone that conditions are getting better, when they are clearly heading south, is a time-proven loser. The best approach is to look at the crummy economy right in the proverbial eye and sneer.

What is the administration going to do about it? After three-point-five years, what course correction needs to be undertaken? The escalating entitlements (e.g., Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) consume about 60 percent of the federal budget. How about reforming these programs? Frau Merkel raised Germany’s retirement age from 65-to-67, reflecting that we are living longer, and at the same time cutting costs. Even with this monumental change, she is still in office, more popular than ever. They are still serving Helles und Dünkles in the Augustiner Keller in München. Imagine that?

Some would warn against spooking seniors and getting Harry’s bowels in an uproar and Nancy’s knickers in a twist. The alternative would be to convince the more than 20 million unemployed and underemployed people, and the 16 million underwater mortgage holders that everything is getting better…when they know that is not the case.

We faced FUBARs in the Deukmejian years. We admitted them, took responsibility and most importantly said what we were going to do about them. Fast forwarding to the present, the days of pointing fingers to sun-scorched Texas are over. The real question is whether the days of accepting responsibility and proposing change that we can trust are already behind us.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/04/08/hot-boxing-for-mike-wallace/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/is-the-skirt-more-powerful-than-the-suit/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/08/17/potus-and-little-ole-me/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2010/02/27/the-bay-bridge-is-in-the-water/

 

 

 

 

 

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