Monday, February 01, 2010

Coming Clean in Washington

As the New York Times' Public Editor puzzles over the paper's coverage of a best-seller "filled with racy anecdotes about dysfunctional marriages and political back-stabbing," we get our first look at Washington's new Mr. Clean, a Senator arrested for shoplifting at 12 who posed naked for a magazine at 22.

In his first Sunday interview, Ted Kennedy's replacement tells Barbara Walters that "I'm a Scott Brown Republican. What does that mean? That means I'm going accountable, accessible, open, and honest, and I'm going to bring good government and fairness back to the equation."

When Walters offers to show him the nude Cosmopolitan picture, Brown says wistfully, "I wish I still looked like that," prompting her to respond, "Well I'm not going to ask you to prove it. But this is pretty--this is pretty raw stuff" and asks if a woman could have been elected after posing for such a centerfold.

Brown is non-committal about that momentous issue, but assures Walters he is a fiscal conservative and "a little more moderate on social issues," carefully sidestepping the assumption that Tea Party Republicans elected him.

Meanwhile, the Times Public Editor parses the paper's use of the raft of scandal in the new best-seller and finds it "treated 'Game Change' as news, but carefully...None of the articles repeated the most titillating material," at the same time managing to let readers know that Elizabeth Edwards is "portrayed in the book as "'an abusive, intrusive, paranoid, condescending crazywoman.'"

So much for "all the news that's fit to print" as we start another decade to remind us that, as Finley Peter Dunne said a century ago, "Politics ain't beanbag" and "A man that would expect to train lobsters to fly in a year is called a lunatic, but a man that thinks men can be turned into angels by an election is a reformer and remains at large."

Bring on the new flight of flying lobsters.

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