If it seems like bad behavior by professional athletes, the famous and the infamous is at an all-time high, it’s probably not.
If it seems like bad behavior by professional athletes, the famous and the infamous is at an all-time high, it’s probably not. It certainly seems to be running particularly rampant of late, but society has been peppered with this type of negative behavior for a long time. The more accurate observance might be that the media coverage of such negative doings has never been more in-your-face and exhaustive.
Maybe that’s because there are two steps in the process that get covered when someone well known by the masses does something particularly dastardly. There’s the actual act itself, and then there’s the next step, when the perpetrator of a given misdeed issues a statement expressing regret, begging forgiveness, and also trying to convince the world that the nasty deed was nothing but an out-of-character blip on their life’s radar screen, and was in no way a reflection on the person’s true self, which typically loves doing things like praying to God, serving as a role model to the next generation, and carving a turkey at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving.
It’s all fairly nauseating. Sure, good people, even the super-famous, make mistakes all the time, and accepting a sincere apology and moving on is all well and good. But, mostly, it’s just a big con, a hollow request for forgiveness so the person who choked his girlfriend, abused his kid, got in a drunken brawl outside a night club, got pulled over after driving 110 miles per hour with a bag of pot and a gun in the vehicle, or left the field early in a game because he was pouting for not getting the ball enough, can still sell Nike athletic gear, Under Armour apparel or Subway sandwiches. Sure, it would be a bonus if their fans and society in general were of the forgiving sort, but the main thing is not losing endorsement deals.
It’s all so slimy. How many of these contrite, humble words are actually authored by the misbehaving person anyway? More than likely, it’s not many. It’s why all these people hire managers, public relations firms, spokespeople and others of that ilk. When they get in trouble, those people are paid to make the person come across as apologetic as heck, angelic even. You can just see them saying, “OK, this is what we’re going to say…”
The story is similar for politicians who mess up. Covering their butts and making them sound nothing less than patriotic heroes when they should probably be in prison is a 24/7, 365-day a year gig for the spin machine.
Which brings us to Elizabeth Lauten.
Who? She’s a communications director for a Republican Congressman from Tennessee. Which makes the fact she felt it necessary to publicly rip into Sasha and Malia Obama, and criticized their parents in the process, all the more bizarre.
The Obama girls joined their dad with a couple of guys from the American Turkey Federation at the White House during Thanksgiving week so the president could partake in the annual, lighthearted pardoning-of-the-turkey ceremony. It’s a chance for a little levity, even when the president’s lagging in the public approval polls.
Sasha and Malia were dressed nice, with Malia’s apparel almost resembling a school uniform. But they’re both teenagers, and sometimes teens are going to act like teens. So that means if they think the giant turkey standing on the table next to them is kind of gross – it most definitely is – they might make a sour face or two, and they’re probably not going to want to touch it, either, even if someone standing nearby in the midst of a career spent promoting the benefits of all things turkey is urging them to do so.
No matter. Lauten pounced. On Facebook, she posted comments as if she was giving the girls unsolicited advice. “Try showing a little class,” Lauten wrote. "Rise to the occasion. Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at the bar. And certainly don't make faces during televised, public events."
Then Lauten went on to conclude that the two youngest kids to occupy the White House in quite some time are victims of bad parenting. "Your mother and father don't respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter,” Lauten wrote in her Facebook post, “so I'm guessing you're coming up a little short in the 'good role model' department."
Naturally, Lauten’s thoughts generated a response, and soon she was in grovel mode. Or maybe the Republican Party wordsmiths intervened so they could make Lauten come across as not just a person who relies on prayer, but is also a gosh-darn good daughter in her own right.
"I quickly judged the two young ladies in a way that I would never have wanted to be judged myself as a teenager," Lauten wrote. "After many hours of prayer, talking to my parents, and re-reading my words online I can see more clearly just how hurtful my words were... I pledge to learn and grow (and I assure you I have) from this experience."
When the first draft of this column was written, the story basically ended there. But then it was determined by someone – God, possibly, Lauten’s parents, maybe, or more than likely the GOP brass – that the damage she’d inflicted – not on the Obamas but more than likely on the Republican cause – was too great, and she needed to resign. Lauten subsequently did just that.
Oh, Elizabeth Lauten, we hardly knew ye. Best of luck in your new endeavours, most likely on Fox News Channel.