I just finished watching Day Two of Scott McClellan being raked over the coals by the White House press corps about the Cheney shooting story and was struck by the fact that the anger and sense of betrayal haven't subsided one iota. McClellan kept trying to move the discussion to health care, but the press would have none of it.
Talk about your dysfunctional relationship. The air of a love affair gone sour hung over the gaggle like a cheap perfume.
It was actually very appropriate viewing for a Valentine's Day morning. The emotional intensity reminded me of many failed relationships I've witnessed -- and a few I've been part of.
Indeed, yesterday's instant classic exchange between Scottie and David Gregory seemed to be lifted verbatim from a particularly heated lovers' quarrel:
Gregory: Don't be a jerk to me personally when I'm asking you a serious question.
McClellan: You don't have to yell
Gregory: I will yell. If you want to use that podium to try to take shots at me personally, which I don't appreciate, then I will raise my voice, because that's wrong.
McClellan: Calm down, Dave, calm down.
Gregory: I'll calm down when I feel like calming down!
And there was more of the same between the two today:
Gregory: I'm not getting answers here, Scott, and I'm trying to be forthright with you, but don't tell me that you're giving us complete answers when you're not actually answering the question, because everybody knows what is an answer and what is not an answer.
McClellan: David, now you want to make this about you, and it's not about you, it's about what happened...
Gregory: I'm sorry that you feel that way, but that's not what I'm trying to do.
As the Press Room Turns.
Channeling Dr. Phil for a moment, I couldn't help but wonder: is the press really this worked up about being kept out of the shooting loop for 18 hours or are there bigger issues at play? What the relationship gurus call "baggage".
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this isn't a big story -- especially now that Cheney's victim has suffered a heart attack. But it was only a few days ago we learned that Cheney might have authorized Scooter Libby to leak classified information to reporters -- and that story didn't generate a tiny fraction of the coverage.
And Cheney and the Bush White House have been blatantly lying to the press -- and the American people -- for over five years now. Lying about WMD, Saddam's links to 9/11, looming mushroom clouds, being greeted as liberators, the insurgency in its last throes, the war being able to pay for itself, torture, NSA wiretaps, Plamegate, and on and on and on.
But this is the story they are shouting "How could you?!" over.
It's like being involved with a serial philanderer. You find out that he had sex with your sister -- in your bed -- and you live and let live, so as to not rock the boat. Then you find out about the secret love child he had with his secretary, and you take it and hope that your kids will like their new half-sibling. Then he gambles away your life's savings and puts you in debt, and you let him slide with a promise to never do it again.
Than comes Valentine's Day... and he gives you a box of milk chocolate when he knows damn well that you love dark chocolate and can't stand milk chocolate. How dare he! All hell breaks loose: "You don't have to yell." "I will yell!" And you finally kick him and his milk chocolates out of the house.
Like I said: Baggage.
As VP, Dick Cheney has been the political equivalent of a philandering husband, and the press has been the compliant and silently-suffering wife, willing to put up with being lied to and cheated on again and again and again and again.
But they're not going to accept goddamn milk chocolate on Valentine's Day.