At the exact moment Jon Favreau is receiving high praise in pre-inaugural media puff pieces, the 27-year-old chief speechwriter for President-elect Barack Obama (not Jon Favreau, the Hollywood actor/ director) finds himself in a minor mess over a photo from a recent private party showing him groping the breast of a cardboard cutout of Hillary Rodham Clinton as an unnamed pal wearing an “Obama staff” T-shirt kisses and feeds her beer.
If you haven’t seen it, imagine the early stages of the barroom rape scene of “The Accused” with Jodie Foster. Or think prosecutor Mike Nifong’s graphic (though false) descriptions of the Duke lacrosse party. Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson danced to a similar tune at the 2004 Super Bowl.
Fraternities have been closed for less.
The provocative party pic uploaded to Facebook for a very short time was soon discovered and printed in The Washington Post then disseminated across the Internet and featured prominently on Politico, Gawker and the Drudge Report.
If the photo had exposed a Republican offender, there’d already be a full-bore media scandal and cascading resignations. MSNBC would be rearranging its schedules for a wall-to-wall 24/7 bonanza. Rachel Maddow would finally have her big story. Barbara Boxer, Patricia Schroeder and other righteous feminists would walk up the Capitol steps, reprising the time they tried to destroy Clarence Thomas - for nothing.
Yet so far there is no groundswell of feminist rage in the District of Columbia. The unnamed co-conspirator thrusting the beer bottle into the mouth of the designated secretary of state isn’t yet a household slur.
Instead, with the accused being a member of the protected Democratic class, we only have a quick peripheral debate. The mainstream media headlines soften the story’s implications: “Obama speechwriter Favreau learns the perils of Facebook” (CNN).
Next time, don’t share your coarseness with the world. It’s the technology’s fault.
The aggressive iconography of two young drunk men taking advantage of a life-size cutout of a woman - especially a powerful one - would bring an elite college campus to a standstill, force a housecleaning of a Fortune 500 company, ground the Air Force Academy and would, in most cases, ruin the career of a Republican staffer or elected official.
Every sexual harassment training manual makes exceedingly clear that this type of behavior is intolerable. If only former President Bill Clinton could offer his sage advice on sexual harassment and put this conundrum to rest.
If, for instance, President Bush’s former speechwriter Michael Gerson had been caught in flagrante cartone, he would have stepped down before the president could fire him. If not, the media, the feminist establishment and the Democratic Party leadership would have destroyed Mr. Gerson and Mr. Bush and crafted a “culture of harassment” umbrella descriptor to hang around the administration’s neck in perpetuity.
In GOP land, apologies and resignations are never enough.
However, the Democratic double standard on political correctness kicked in immediately as the feminist establishment, the media and even Mrs. Clinton herself came forth to save the fast-rising Obama wordsmith.
Can she fix it? Yes, she can.