A new photo going around shows Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy supposedly eyeing a teenager's tush at the G8. The video tells a different story, but that hasn't stopped several media outlets from making fun — using their dumbest puns.
Video of the event (above, from this morning's Good Morning America) shows that Obama may actually be watching his step, or helping another woman down the stairs, rather than ogling the rear of a young woman the New York Post identifies as 17-year-old Mayara Tavares (other sources claim she is 16). But that didn't stop TMZ from proclaiming "Baby Got Barack" or the Drudge Report calling the young woman Obama's "SECOND STIMULUS PACKAGE!" So does it even matter if the President was getting an eyeful of ass?
Of course, looking is pretty innocent, and anybody who expects their partner to never even glance at some extramarital booty has a difficult relationship ahead of them. The whole thing is made more skeevy by the fact that Tavares is underage, but Obama neither touched her nor talked about her, and it's unlikely that her encounter with him was traumatic in any way. In fact, all the media coverage is probably far more embarrassing than any sidelong look by the leader of the free world.
Then there's the argument that we shouldn't care about the President's conduct when it comes to women. This came up a lot during the Monica Lewinsky scandal — a popular argument went that Hitler never cheated on his wife, but was still an evil and immoral leader. The choice between Hitler and Clinton is an obvious one, but is that really the only choice we have? Between fidelity/genocide and infidelity/moderate liberalism? Is it so unreasonable to lose at least a little respect for a public figure when he can't keep it in his pants?
Michael Elliott, in the new issue of Time, says Americans "like their leaders to be charismatic" — which includes at least the appearance, if not the reality, of marital fidelity. It's hardly charming to have to read the crap emails of someone you voted for. But should Americans quit asking their leaders to be role models and instead look for a President who is "one of us," as Italians apparently think of the Silvio Berlusconi? It's true that European and American commentators alike have criticized Americans for asking that their public figures be perfect. But expecting a President (or, say, Governor) not to cheat on his wife isn't expecting perfection. Expecting him not to look at — or even look like he's looking at — other women maybe is.