Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Aaron Schock has resigned:
Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock resigned Tuesday, less than 12 hours after POLITICO raised questions about tens of thousands of dollars in mileage reimbursements he received for his personal vehicle....
This happened because ... well, you know:
The congressman's woes began in February, when a reporter for the Washington Post published photos of Schock's lavish new Capitol Hill office. The decor was allegedly inspired by the British period drama "Downton Abbey." Schock later reimbursed the $40,000 cost of the office decor with his personal funds.

That story prompted other outlets to take a closer look at Schock's finances. The Associated Press used photos from Schock's Instagram account to trace flights he took on donor's private planes using taxpayer and campaign funds, while Buzzfeed noticed that Schock had used a lectern during appearances in his home district that appeared to be a replica one used by President Obama -- and cost roughly $5,000.
He's on his way out -- but back in 2009, when he had just been sworn in to his first term and was the youngest member of Congress, after a presidential election in which a young Democrat beat an old Republican, Schock was, like so many Republicans for so many reasons, touted as a potential superstar. I keep telling you that Republicans are much more inclined than Democrats to describe their own as stars in the making, the result of which is a Beltway belief that the GOP is chock-full of talent and the Democratic Party is bereft. For a moment, Schock was one of those up-and-coming Forces to Be Reckoned With.

See this Details article from 2009 (hat tip: McKay Coppins):
[One] reason Schock has drawn so much attention is what conservatives now refer to, in hushed, reverential tones, as "the Air Force One story." In February, when Barack Obama traveled to Peoria to stump for the stimulus bill, the president invited the congressman along for the trip, and lobbied him -- privately, aboard Air Force One, and then publicly, during a rally at a Caterpillar plant -- to vote for the bill. Maybe Obama figured that the freshman congressman would be an easy sell. But the day after the trip, Schock voted against the stimulus package, denouncing it on the House floor as a "skunk." In doing so, Schock became a GOP folk hero -- a conservative Cool Hand Luke who looked Obama in the eye and didn't blink. "That was a true test of character," says John Shimkus, one of Schock's fellow Republican representatives from Illinois, "and Aaron passed it with flying colors."

... When [a Chris Wallace interview with Schock] airs in Fox News Sunday's "Power Player" segment, Wallace has added a coda: "What about Schock's future?" he asks. "Governor Schock?" Pause for effect. "President Schock?"
That aired on March 8, 2009. Schock had been in Congress approximately two months.

Republicans do this all the time; they're doing it right now, in a more sustained and serious way, with Tom Cotton.

If you're a Democrat, you might not get this kind of attention even if you've won a blowout election or won multiple elections or are wildly popular in your state. For one thing, no media outlet provides for Democrats what Fox and talk radio do for Republicans: pure public relations. No conference works for Democrats the way CPAC and similar conferences do for Republicans.

Even seasoned Democratic pols don't get mentioned as potential presidential candidates, because the "liberal media" thinks they're boutique tastes and wouldn't go over in the heartland. If they were Republicans, there'd have been presidential talk in recent years around California's Kamala Harris, Antonio Villaraigosa, and Gavin Newsom, not to mention renewed discussion of Jerry Brown. At least briefly, there might have been talk of New York mayor Bill de Blasio as a possible presidential contender after his blowout win in 2013, in a race in which he hadn't even been the favorite in the Democratic primary. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar might be mentioned as possible presidential candidates from Minnesota. Hell, if Schock could be touted on Fox despite the fact that he is (and was at the time) widely believed to be a gay man in the closet, then why aren't Democrats trying to make a star of Kate Brown, the accidental (and openly bisexual) governor of Oregon, who just signed a bill making voter registration automatic in that state?

I'm not saying that Brown could be elected president; I'm not sure Chris Wallace was really saying he thought Schock could be. But Republicans float such ideas about their own to create the perception of popularity. Democrats hardly ever do that, and suffer as a result.


Victor said...

Well, is all fairness, conservatives love to fluff their own, and ignore all sorts of blemishes and warts.

They make a Mt. McKinley out of some molehill of a new nebbish in the House.

And yeah, it's PR, and it works for them.

Democrats tend to be more reasonable about the electability of their candidates, once they're on the national stage.

Cotton is just the newest heart-throb loon for the loons in the base to dream about being invited to the Presidential Inauguration Party for their newly-elected dreamboat.

Cotton may play in Arkansas, but I don't think he'll last long in a Presidential campaign.

Look at how quickly "Lyin'" Ryan's Presidential hopes faded, after his foibles and warts were exposed to the nation.

Glennis said...

I seem to recall another fresh faced superstar destined for political triumph in the Republican party. She was from Alaska. Someone help me out with her name...

paulocanning said...

Given that others have done far worse stuff ethically and also given that I doubt his constituents would receive the reports as anything other than Liberal blah ... I wonder what it is about Schock that has led to his party abandoning him?

Actually I don't wonder. That in 2015 everyone is still tippy toeing around sexuality like we're discussing his cancer diagnosis is in your face ridiculous.

What argument is there against discussing this like adults? Like being gay is a normal everyday thing? Can't do it openly because of his 'right to a private life'? Must just giggle like 13 year olds because that's the ethical thing to do? What?

paulocanning said...

Oh, and referring to that hideous office as 'inspired by Downton Abbey' was some sort of hate speech against the Brits, n'kay?

Steve M. said...

In the comments to the Crooks and Liars version of this post, David Edelstein was wondering whether a sex tape was coming. That would be entertaining.

paulocanning said...

Not sure 'entertaining' would be the right word ... :#

Given his penchant for self memorial a tape does make every sense though.