Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner R Wisconsin is getting the biggest press coverage of his life. He’s on the front page of the Drudge Report, Huffington Post and, basically, everywhere else. Did he finally author earth-shattering legislation after 33 years in Congress? Nope. He said the First Lady has a “Large Posterior.”
A Democratic operative recently overheard Sensenbrenner on the telephone in an airport lounge saying the following:
“She (the First Lady) lectures us on eating right while she has a large posterior herself.”
That quickly made its way into the press and it is dominating news coverage as I write this. The Congressman’s office did not deny the statement and said he would be sending an apology to the First Lady.
First, full disclosure. Sensenbrenner is not my kind of politician. I am not a fan. In fact, I was friendly with close relatives of his 30 years ago in college who assured me than that Sensenbrenner was a bit of a boob and considered an embarrassment, the “black sheep of the family.”
So it gives me great joy to see him publicly humiliated.
Still…I am worried that any single comment a public official ever says on a private phone call is now considered fodder for embarrassing tabloid coverage. It just doesn’t seem, well, or fair. Do we really want to eliminate anyone from public office who has told a non-PC joke or has made less than flattering, candid remarks about someone?
This episode again reaffirms my belief in my wisdom for not pursuing a career in public office!
A public space in a public airport is not exactly a private talk in a private home. Still, how many of us haven’t had a cell phone conversation in a public place where we thought no one could hear us and we said some indelicate things?
I think the media needs to be very careful about adopting the new rule of “anything embarrassing ever said on a public phone call by a public official is now fair game” or it could lead us down the road of a British style intercepting of phone calls.
Now, in the Sensenbrenner Affair, all of these issues become moot for the simple reason that he apparently made the same statement about the First Lady to a constituent in a church a few weeks ago. The phone call in question was talking about the possibility that the media might be running with the story anyway.
So in this case, the media is completely in the clear and did the right thing. So we can all have a good laugh at Sensenbrenner’s expense. The story is additionally savory given that Sensenbrenner’s complaining about the size of the First lady’s “posterior” is roughly the equivalent of the sun complaining about how big and bright the moon is.
PS. I will take to dinner the first reader who sends me an unflattering, un-retouched photo of Jim Sensenbrenner in a bathing suit. Then we can have a true comparison on “posteriors.”