Anyone who’s been paying attention to national politics may have gotten the strange, discomforting feeling that the United States has, for the past several years, been led in a manner more befitting a Student Council rather than a world power. Whether it’s Harry Reid’s whiny vendetta against the Koch brothers, or the more recent indecent back stab of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the seats of power are behaving not unlike a high school popularity contest. Peggy Noonan zeroed in on one such example recently in a blog post at the Wall Street Journal regarding a phone call President Obama made to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and, apparently, a loose-lipped staffer in the Senator’s office:
Presidents don’t call senators to complain that someone in their office got them mad. That is below a president. (It is especially below one during a crisis.) If persistent leaks get under a president’s skin, he has one of the tough guys around him make that call. If it’s really serious, he has his chief of staff do it. But a president doesn’t lower himself to making accusations, he doesn’t stoop to expressing personal anger at a mere congressional staffer. Presidents have bigger things to do. They also know that everyone leaks. They roll their eyes and keep walking.
Senators don’t have staffers surreptitiously listen in on phone calls from the president of the United States. If they want to request that someone listen in and take notes, they can, and the White House can give or decline permission in advance of the call. Has any senator ever violated this etiquette? Probably, sure. But it is a violation, and they would know it is a violation and not something to brag about.