Shirtless Beer-Drinking White House Staffers Become Politico 'Big Picture' Story


Of all the stories that Politico ran today, this one, entitled "Are Obama staffers overexposed?" is, without a doubt, the Politicoiest!

Now, you might be thinking to yourselves, "Wait, is this another one of those political media back-and-forth bitchfests about how first the White House is denying access to reporters, and then, the wind changes direction and suddenly, the new meme is that the White House is on teevee, with reporters, way too much?" You know what? I wouldn't think less of you if you did think that. Lord knows we've been on that carousel numerous times the past year and a half.

But no, that's not the case. That would have, at the very least, substance-like substance! No, this article is about what happens when you are in desperate need of the thinnest of pretexts to run a photo of shirtless White House staffers in the hopes that you can tie it to some hysterical "big picture" claptrap.

When two White House aides last weekend stripped off their shirts for an afternoon of drinking with friends at a Georgetown bar, there was widespread agreement that it exposed something -- beyond the pectorals of speechwriter Jon Favreau and press aide Tommy Vietor -- about Washington in the age of Barack Obama.

OH, REALLY? What was it? Tell us! We are dying to know!

There was no agreement about what that something was.

Oh, for f-ck's sake!

Conservative critics said it showed the young Obama crowd needs to get a clue. By these lights, the bare-chested drinking showed the aides acting like -- and, thanks to a photo posted on the Web, looking like -- frat boys in the midst of two wars and the Gulf oil spill.

Oh, yeah, you know, I'm sure every single staffer on the GOP side of Congress spent their weekend sequestered in their Chambers of Rue, veiled in black, sitting shiva over the Gulf Oil Spill tragedy, hoping against hope that Paul Ryan would be able to tax cut that goldurned hole shut! I'm sure that Representative Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) is going to cancel tonight's "Mississippi Fish Fry" in light of the fact that so many of Mississippi's actual fish are choking to death, on chemical dispersant!

West Wing defenders said it showed Obama bashers need to get a life. Do they really have nothing better to carp about than a couple of friends enjoying a day off?

Why shouldn't they carp, when Politico will just run a story, about their brainless carping?

But some White House observers said the episode revealed something else: The Obama team needs to get an Evelyn Lieberman.

Who now?

Lieberman made an unwanted cameo on the public stage during the Clinton years, when she became briefly famous as the White House staff member who tried to shoo Monica Lewinsky away from Bill Clinton after she noticed that the intern seemed to be "spending too much time around the West Wing."

Okay, and how well did Lieberman do?

Lieberman ostentatiously failed in that mission.

OH, WELL, GREAT. Why is it that of all the "White House observers" in the world, Politico only seems to know the ones that are thundering dipshits?

If such bare-chested behavior had occurred in the West Wing, "Evelyn would have said the same thing she'd say to women in the White House whose skirts were too short," said Jennifer Palmieri, a deputy White House press secretary during the Clinton years. "She would say, 'Excuse me, I think you forgot your skirt.' In this case she would say, 'Excuse me, I believe you forgot your shirt.'" However, Palmieri said even White House aides get a longer leash for what happens in a bar on a weekend afternoon.

AND THAT IS WHEN I CLICKED "CLOSE TAB." I mean, that is one whole page of nothing but meandering equivocation and nonsense. (It goes on, into the wasteland of lost time, for two more pages).

Inexplicably, it took two writers to produce an article this pointless. And one of them is editor-in-chief John F. Harris! Meanwhile, Politico's gossip site, Click, has an article up on a documentary film about redistricting. It's like two universes have just swapped places.

Anyway, this is why there is a section in my living will that reads, "Any perceived willingness to work for Politico should be treated as de facto evidence of brain death; do not resuscitate."

UPDATE: Jed Lewison bravely kept the tab open, and finds, on the third page of this dreck: "Contrary to the original reports, the group was not playing beer pong. And their shirts were off because the group had gotten caught in a rainstorm before repairing to Old Glory in Georgetown." I regret inadvertently going easy on John F. Harris, who really is a complete numbskull.

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