I realized that the Donald Sterling controversy was going to be a full-blown ethics train wreck when, as I should have predicted but didn’t, President Obama once again tossed his office, authority and power into a completely non-governmental matter that his involvement could only confound, and can’t possibly help. “When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk,” the President responded during a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, after being asked about Sterling’s alleged remarks. At least he didn’t say that V. Stiviano, the NBA owner’s mistress who recorded the comments, could have been his daughter.
This continues a pattern, exemplified by the President’s gratuitous statements as the Trayvon Martin case was unfolding, of Obama being willfully ignorant of the injustice done when the President of the United States uses his bullhorn to warp independent investigations before they are complete, and attempts to sway public opinion in matters outside his proper duties. The NBA is currently examining the circumstances of Sterling’s statements, and Obama’s irresponsible interjections can do nothing but upset the process. He simply cannot or will not restrain himself. My view: this stuff is easy, an approximation of being Presidential for a leader who is foundering in dealing with the important, legitimate challenges of his job. It is an expression of weakness.
Meanwhile, it is increasingly likely that, in classic ethics train wreck fashion, everyone connected to and responding to this episode is or will be tainted. Sterling’s girlfriend, for example, broke the law: California is a state like Maryland ( Hello, Linda Tripp, wherever you are!) and others, where it is illegal to record anyone without their consent. Her motives were also despicable: reputedly she had vowed vengeance because Sterling’s wife (oh, yes, her sugar-daddy is still married) has sued her for embezzlement. His wife calls her a gold-digger; perhaps that is unfair, and perhaps she really loves the 80-year-old evident racist for the purity of his soul and vitality in the sack rather than his bank account, just as I may be secretly a bighorn sheep. But the incident roiling the worlds of sports and culture is clearly the product of domestic warfare and at least two thoroughly awful people. Continue reading