ABC-6 Reporter Mark Curtis: "The Sunday Political Brunch" August - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

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ABC-6 Reporter Mark Curtis: "The Sunday Political Brunch" August

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by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis

mcurtis@abc6.com 

(Providence, Rhode Island) – We're under a terror alert, there are political sex scandals galore, and a few more states allowed gay marriages this week. Oh, and it's the President's birthday. The "Brunch" is all over the map this week, so let's dine! 

"She's Back!"- With all that's going on in the world of politics, the last person I thought I'd be talking about this week is Monica Lewinsky.  But the National Enquirer has obtained a15 year-old audio tape of the former White House intern trying to send a lurid message to then President Clinton. According to a transcript she said, "I could take all my clothes off and start... well.. I know you wouldn't enjoy that?" And that's about as racy as the tape gets. 

"I Promised I Wouldn't Mention Him" – I swore I would not mention him this week, but I just have to draw the distinction between Lewinsky and New York City Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner. The PG-13 rated transcript from a Lewinsky tape recording of 15 years ago seems comparatively tame to the X-rated photos and "tweets" sent by Weiner. The instant Internet and social media that did not exist in 1998 is a mega-force today. The Clinton-Lewinsky scandal that seemed so monumental at the time now seems pale in comparison. Of course one guy was the President; while the other is only a candidate for mayor. But, oh how times (and technology) have changed our perspectives. 

"The Hillary Factor" – I was doing commentary on KGO Radio 810-AM in San Francisco this week and was asked about the impact of the newly revealed Lewinsky tape, on the chances of Hillary Clinton becoming President. This whole issue gets even more complicated – at least to some – because Weiner's wife Huma Abedin is a long-time Hillary Clinton aide and protégé. My answer was that they'll be no impact on Hillary at all. The theory put forth by the host was, "Wouldn't Hillary's chances be better now, if she'd left Bill in 1998?" And, "Now Hillary can't be credible, because she should have urged Huma to leave Anthony?" Look, it's August 2013, light years away from August 2016 when Hillary may be the nominee. The Lewinsky and Weiner scandals will not be factors, in my opinion. 

"Shoulder Shrug of the Week"- There was so much consternation in Rhode Island this week, because four member of the Westboro Baptist Church came to town to protest the first day of legal same-sex marriage in the Ocean State on August 1. At first gay marriage supporters asked the local media not to cover the Westboro protest. Then – when censorship conscious media outlets refused – the marriage equality folks decided a better idea was to show up with a group of counter-protesters that was tenfold. The image of them shouting down the Westboro folks was unmistakable. The first day of marriages went on without further controversy. 

"Where Did the Opposition Go?" – Delaware, Minnesota and the District of Columbia joined Rhode Island as the recent adopters of same-sex unions. While opponents don't agree with it, the issue of marriage and gay rights is fading fast. Polls continue to show opposition to same-sex marriage in strongest among people over 60, whereas people under 30 – whether they are Democrat, Republican or independent – overwhelmingly have no problem with gay marriage. It's an issue that seems to be fading into the sunset politically. Or is it? Thirteen states now allow same-sex unions; whereas 28 states ban it in one way or another. Many of those bans were implemented by ballot initiative. One can imagine counter amendments in ensuing years, as older opponents on the issue die. Where people stand on gay marriage is now largely generational, and that can change public policy over time. 

"Who's Minding the Store"- My larger concern in the backdrop of the Weiner, Clinton (and, yes, even the Simon Cowell sex scandals), is that the news coverage the last two weeks has been predominantly focused on that. So, when a worldwide terror alert was issued Friday – first for U.S. Embassies in predominately Islamic counties – and then for all U.S. overseas travel, it made me wonder if our priorities were all backwards (both as a media, and as a consuming public). When I spoke with U.S. Senator Jack Reed Friday - who may soon chair the Armed Services Committee - it was clear this was a serious and credible threat. The fact that it almost has to fight its way into the headlines, by elbowing Anthony Weiner and Monica Lewinsky out of the way, is bizarre.

"Happy Birthday, Mr. President" – President Obama is 52 today. To me it's weird to have a President two years younger than me, especially since his hair is a lot grayer. Like his predecessors, the job has aged him. I've covered politics and Presidents for over 30 years, and I still don't get way they want that job so bad. High stress, low approval, and relatively mediocre pay considering the importance of the job, makes many potentially good candidates pass at the opportunity.  But then again there is the nice address, the personal chef Air Force One and the other perks. All-in-all, I'm glad I'm on the outside of the White House, looking in! Enjoy your birthday, Mr. President! 

As always, let's hear your thoughts. Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2013, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

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