By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Here's the non-story, non-scandal that will get talked about today: the president's budget chief has a newborn child out of wedlock. The details are that he was in a "committed relationship" and impregnated another consenting adult. The couple broke up early in the pregnancy. Subsequently Orszag, who is divorced with two other children, got engaged to an ABC News reporter. In this day and age two unmarried adults having a child out of wedlock is not particularly scandalous. And while one can debate philosophically what's best for the child in terms of parents staying together, getting married, etc. one can't pass judgment on the particular case without knowing the intimate details of the relationship. And those details simply aren't the public's business.
But none of that has ever prevented silly commentary. Take liberal bloviator Ed Schultz on MSNBC's Morning Joe this AM. After his assembled colleagues had dismissed the story as having absolutely nothing to do with Orszag's job and laughed about geek chic, Schultz weighed in:
It's fair. He's working for the president. He's working for the tax payer. Let's see, he's divorced, has two kids he's going to have to pay attention to; he's got a love which I'm sure there's going to be some connection there; and now he's got a fiance. This guy's got a lot on his plate. I think the American people are going to view this story saying, "All right, is this guy focused?" And I think the president has to make damn sure that his budget director is focused on exactly what he's doing. And there's a lot on the plate there. I don't think it's too much to ask of someone who's serving the public in a position like that that, you know, it takes total focus to do the business of the American people.
Seriously? Should there be some sort of limit on what's going on in a White House staffer's private life? Sorry, Pete, but you could have the job with two kids, but three? We're going to need you to step aside. Is there a formula somewhere? Three kids is OK with one wife or ex-wife, but three kids, an ex-wife and a fiance? Sorry, you're going to have to lose one of these or your job.
(And as an aside can we declare a moratorium on pundits and politicians taking it upon themselves to speak for "the American people"? The speaker is almost always wrong and simply sounds like a self-important blow-hard.)
I suppose one could take perverse satisfaction from the fact that these questions are being raised about a man in power as opposed to a woman, about whom such questions more commonly come up. But I wonder how Schultz would react had a conservative questioned a woman's ability to do her job what with several children and a fiance.