Friday, February 15, 2013

Cohen Non-Scandal Reveals Valentines Surprise and a TNGOP Boner

Posted By on Fri, Feb 15, 2013 at 8:55 AM

Those creepy tweets sent by a Tennessee congressman to a 24 year-old blonde and then subsequently deleted Tuesday night? Well, it turns out the bombshell is his daughter, and, in retrospect, the tweets are actually kind of sweet.

This whole story burned out so fast that you might have missed it amongst wall-to-wall coverage of the poop cruise, or news of a murder charge for the last remaining inspirational athlete.

So let's start at the beginning, for posterity's sake.

Some time before President Obama's State of the Union address, Congressman Steve Cohen, 63, reportedly received a tweet from a 24-year-old woman named Victoria Brink, which said "just saw you on tv!" The Memphis Democrat responded with a couple of tweets that seemed to stretch the definition of constituent services.

"[P]leased you are watching. ilu," Cohen responded, before quickly deleting the tweet, and "nice to know you were watchin SOTU(state of the union).Happy Valentines beautiful girl. ilu," which was also soon deleted.

The congressman's office quickly explained that the young woman was the daughter of a close family friend, but If you've followed politics for a few minutes, or watched House of Cards, these dots seemed to connect themselves. And naturally, the TNGOP pounced.

"The Weiner of the South," declared a blaring release from the party. "Congressman Cohen Does Something Only Anthony Weiner Could Be Proud Of."

If you've got your political sex scandals mixed up, Anthony Weiner was the Democratic congressman from New York who tweeted a picture of his crotch to a 21 year-old woman, denied having sent the picture for a few days, then admitted he had sent that and other sexual photos to the woman, then resigned.

In a statement, the party's executive director Brent Leatherwood criticized Cohen's use of Twitter to "send personal and unnecessarily revealing messages to college co-eds" and invoked Weinergate again.

To be fair, the tweets were kind of creepy, even if they had been sent to the daughter of a close family friend. As it turns out, though, the close family friend is Cohen's old girlfriend, with whom he had ... a daughter!

Cohen told NBC News last night that Victoria Brink is actually his daughter, whom he only found out about three years ago. (As of this writing, we have not seen any indications of a truther movement rising from the conservative fever swamps and demanding DNA samples.)

If that's true — and while the Manti Te'o affair has us doubting everything, we have no reason to doubt Cohen's story at the moment — the tweets are positively not creepy, but actually kind of sweet. I mean, Cohen even took the time to explain his political Twitter shorthand — "SOTU (state of the union)" — to his daughter.

The TNGOP, which had gone "Ready, Fire!, Aim" by calling Cohen the "Weiner of the South," was quick with a non-apology.

"Yesterday, news outlets raised legitimate questions about how Rep. Steve Cohen was using his official Congressional Twitter account," said Leatherwood in a statement from the party. "While it's unfortunate Congressman Cohen used a public vehicle for a private matter, whether intentional or not. It is good that he addressed the issue and we can all move on."

Ah, yes. Now that we've wrongly equated you with a congressman who sent pictures of his, uh, weiner to a 21-year-old, it's good that "we can all move on." A douchey jab about the seemingly creepy tweets would have been expected from either party. (For the record, if you start with the assumption that a given politician, from either party, is a sleaze, you're pushing an open door here.) But the TNGOP went full douche, and they missed. And when you're the party of Scott DesJarlais, perhaps a bit of humility is in order.

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