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The White Frat House

June 11, 2010

So a coupla guys on the White House staff went shirtless while painting the town red in Georgetown on Sunday.  According to Politico, “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.”  I’m predictably ambivalent about the whole thing, but the two nonetheless engaged in typical Washington vehement denial:

Friends of the Obama aides said that the afternoon was much less of a Bacchanalia than the publicity implied. 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.

Not that I give a hoot about these cats’ reasons for going shirtless, but that beer pong denial is pretty clever.  Of course they weren’t playing Beirut.  Look at the picture: they were quite obviously playing flip cup—still a frat game, albeit a slightly girly one.  I’m kind of confused by the necessity of pointing out the double standard.  Who cares if Bush aides would have been slammed for doing something like this (and who even knows that they would have)?  It’s not like this gives a boost to the perception that the President isn’t doing anything about the oil spill (and it probably wouldn’t have in Bush’s case, either).  I mean, Favreau is the President’s chief speechwriter and Vietor is some sort of press aide.  What exactly are they supposed to do about the oil spill (and, for that matter, what exactly is the President supposed to do)?  Swim down there and plug the hole with their… uh, enormous noggins?

As to the question of how you’re supposed to behave when you’re on the White House staff, I’m going to give a resounding “carE”, as I’m sure most everybody else is doing.  This is what you’re supposed to expect when you have unmarried twenty-somethings in the West Wing (even if one of them is engaged and the other is dating Karen Filippelli).  If it’s really affecting their work performance, then it should show up in the President’s… speeches, which is something about which I carE equally as much.  It’s ultimately the President’s responsibility anyway, so if we really care that much, why don’t we just take it up with him?

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