March 26, 2009

Oops! ... They Lost Perspective Again

Top story this morning on memeorandum -- Republican Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia, who holds a leadership position in the House (he's the House Minority Whip, which means he is supposed to tell other House Republicans how the party wants them to vote on bills) apparently went to a Britney Spears concert last night instead of watching President Obama's spectacularly dull press conference.

It's not like he turned down an invitation from the White House to attend a state dinner. It's not like he was supposed to be at the press conference live. He's a member of the other party; he would have been watching the conference at home on TV or in an office somewhere. No one was going to interview Congressman Cantor after the press conference unless he went out of his way to beg for press as a "Republican reaction." Which lots of other Republicans no doubt did.

Get real, people. Congressman Cantor has access to TiVo. You watch TV at your leisure, you go to events when they happen. Concerts are performed live. Television can be recorded. What's more, President Obama gives really boring press conferences. No national emergency was going on while Cantor was watching the lovely Ms. Spears flaunting her assets on stage.

Maybe what's really going on is that we're supposed to be outraged that a Republican went to see a Britney Spears concert at all. Well, query if that means Congressman Cantor has bad, or at least lowbrow, taste in music -- but if so, so what? Britney Spears is crazy as a rabid bat, but she's still easy on the eye and her songs are kind of catchy. Still, even if Cantor is a "family values" Republican who presumably would look askance at Britney Spears' antics and sexualized self-expression, the worst it says about him is that he's a mild sort of hypocrite for going to her concert and supporting that. But again, so what? He is accused in this meme of lèse majesté, not hypocrisy. And I exonerate him of the charge of which he stands accused.

And it's not like Democrats are that innocent themselves. How many George W. Bush press conferences or speeches did Democrats blow off? Seems to me that even President Obama watched then-President Bush's farewell address on TiVo after it was given instead of live, because he was having a nice dinner with his wife at the time. (H/T to Sister Toldjah for the research on that link.)

As well he should have. Bush's farewell address was a second-tier political event, as are most Presidential press conferences.

If Congressman Cantor likes Britney Spears' music better than President Obama's press conferences, that's his prerogative. We can expect Congressman Cantor to acquaint himself with the President's political and policy pitches, but doing so is hardly a 24-7 job, even for a hobby-blogger like me, much less a politician in Washington D.C. with internet access, video recorders, newspapers, a network of political apparatchiks at his command, and the fact that the White House is continually pushing a political message of one sort or another, so he can scarcely avoid what it has to say even if he wanted to.

If Cantor wants to take a night off to blow off some steam, so be it. Everyone gets to do that from time to time. He'll get the political message soon enough and can be counted on to do his job with competence despite taking in a Britney Spears concert.

The entire country does not have to be waiting with baited breath for every move the President makes and every word he utters. Barack Obama is the President, a high-ranking government official and the leader of our country. Yes, we should pay attention to what he has to say when he's doing that job. But he's not a king or a demigod.

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