There's somebody in Washington I think had a worse week than the Fabulous Aaron Schock
You can watch 1999 Benjamin talk about " 'saving' Jews" here.
In my Wednesday "Daily Schockpost," "What do you suppose the "fabulous" Aaron Schock is making of the horrific efforts of Downton Abbey under-butler Barrow to purge himself of Teh Gay?," I reported having taken some time off to rewatch, of all things, this week's episode of Downton Abbey, and couldn't help wondering how America's Fittest Congressman, the Fabulous Aaron Schock, reacted while watching the latest developments in the unfolding plotline for Downton under-butler Thomas Barrow.
Thomas (as he used to be known when he was merely a footman or valet), of course, is the character we viewers all love to hate: perpetually scheming, with no friends and just the occasional conspiratorial ally, usually by compulsion. This season Barrow (as he has been known since, amazingly, he found himself promoted to under-butler) has been engaged in a frenzy of mysterious acivity, which has coincided eerily with a precipitous visible decline in his health.
I think it was only in this episode that we came to understand what has been happening: Thomas appear to be subjecting himself to some sort of horrific quack-medical treatments to rid himself of those dreadful physical urges he feels for attractive men. By episode's end, with growing numbers of the upstairs folk voicing concern about his appearance, he looked to be maybe a step away from death's door.
Regular Downton Abbey viewers understand the terror driving Thomas, since we've seen how close he came to destroying his career in service. Prompted by malicious misinformation, he let his fiercely maintained guard drop and reached out for some desperately needed physical intimacy, and came within a hair's breadth of arrest and public prosecution for his depravity. If he had been spared that fate and been "merely" discharged from Downton, it was clear that his prospects for finding other employment in any field (any future career in service being out of the question) would have been dim indeed.
Getting us to feel compassion for the detestable Thomas is an extraordinary dramatic achievement. I like to think that the glimpse into the character's inhuman isolation afforded us by series creator-producer-writer Julian Fellowes and actor Rob James-Collier, who plays Thomas, is an indelible portrait of the life this wretched fellow lives in his imprisoning closet.
Of course we don't know for sure that he is watching. You'll recall how the Fabulous Aaron's communications director at the time -- the time being earlier this week -- underscored to the Washington Post's Ben Terris that he doesn't know, and in fact rather seemed to doubt, that his then-boss even watches Downton Abbey. Presumably the choice of a Downton theme for his fabulous new Rayburn House Office Building headquarters was merely an inspiration of his decorator, who is so chummy with her fabulous pal that she offered her services for free. (In case you were worried about the trouble that this revelation seemed to be creating for the Fabulous One, for accepting such free services, which congressmembers strictly aren't allowed to do, it appears now that he will be writing her a check, and that will be all okay.)
I tell you, though, our Aaron leads such a fabulous life that, by skipping a day of Schockposting, I've missed a momentous development -- concerning, as it happens none other than Benjamin Coles, the now-former communications director.
I hope you haven't forgotten Benjamin already. He was, after all, one of the stars of the comedy-drama, by turns harrowing and side-splitting, presented by Post reporter Terris the other day, which I wrote about Tuesday in "Don't even ask -- Aaron Schock doesn't want to talk about his manly new Downton Abbey-inspired office," as reporter Ben tried to get the story of the fabulous congressman's fabulous new office, snapping off some photos with his phone camera.
It was Benjamin who delivered such immortal lines as "Are you taking pictures? Who told you you could do that?" and "Stay where you are. You've created a bit of a crisis in the office" and ""You’ve got a member willing to talk to you about other things. Why sour it by rushing to write some gossipy piece?" and the heart-rending "I’m really sorry and want you to know this is not fun for me." Wow! With writing like that, could anyone short of Olivier have done justice to the part?
A not-entirely-academic question, it turns out, since as of yesterday Benjamin is no longer playing the part of a member of the congressman's staff. And not because of any of what we've been talking about, at least not directly. It seems some skeletons have been dragged out of Benjamin's closet.
The news yesterday, as reported by the Washington Post's "In the Loop" reporter Colby Itkowitz, was "Rep. Schock’s senior adviser resigns over reports of racist Facebook posts."
First the liberal news site Think Progress posted a series of more than year-old racially-charged Facebook posts by Rep. Aaron Schock’s senior adviser, Benjamin Cole. Shortly thereafter, Buzzfeed News posted several more.And today word comes that, as Colby's post today puts it, "Rep. Schock's former senior aide featured in film about 'saving' Jews."
In one post from October 2013, Cole compared people in his D.C. neighborhood to animals escaped from the National Zoo with the hashtag #gentrifytoday. A few months later he said he witnessed a shooting, saying “one of the hood rats on my street” got shot by “another hood rat.”
Buzzfeed found a post from August 2010, where Cole wrote that a mosque should be built on White House grounds, and responded to a comment on it saying “it would be nice for the President to have his own house of worship…”
Cole did not return request for comment.
Both publications shared a post from last month where Cole described having a run-in with a “black female,” on the street and filing a complaint with the police. But Buzzfeed included further comments to that original Facebook post, where Cole wrote that he was doing “my absolute best to put as many Black Criminals who live and loiter on my street behind bars.” He also called them “black miscreants.”
[By the way, don't you love how ThinkProgress is carefully characterized as "a liberal news site," while Buzzfeed is, well, just plain "Buzzfeed News"? -- Ed.]
Back in 1999, Cole was featured in a documentary about Southern Baptists’ efforts to convert Jewish people. The hour-long film, which never aired but was eventually posted on YouTube, followed a Jewish New Yorker curious what it would take to be “saved.” Steve Manin, now a salesman at a Lexus car dealership, connected with Cole to be his “Christian mentor.”Oh my! (Back in the day, before he became a Village person, Benjamin was a Baptist pastor. Luckily, we don't have to concern ourselves with whether he would have consigned his future boss to "spend eternity in a Christless hell, a place of eternal torment and suffering," since as we know, his future boss isn't, or wasn't, or won't be, gay.)
Cole, at the time, had a high bar — his own mother, interviewed on screen, said she believed her son didn’t think even she would go to heaven.
“A Jew who comes to recognize Jesus as the Messiah is a fulfilled Jew,” Cole told Manin. “It doesn’t bring me any pleasure to say, but anyone who at the moment of death either ignorantly or willingly has rejected Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior will spend eternity in a Christless hell, a place of eternal torment and suffering.”
Today the Post's Aaron Blake has what appears to have been a fairly easy time picking his candidate for the person who had the worst week in Washington. Yes, it's our Aaron!
And make no mistake, the Fabulous One has had one bummer of a week. Just yesterday he issued this statement:
I am extremely disappointed by the inexcusable and offensive online comments made by a member of my staff. I would expect better from any member of my team. Upon learning about them I met with Mr. Cole and he offered his resignation which I have accepted.”I think, though, that we all know somebody in Washington who had a worse week.