Friday, July 30, 2010

Obama Prop Turns Out To Be A Criminal

One of Obama’s favorite political maneuvers is to use anecdotal stories about individuals to argue for policies. These people tell their sad stories, and the intended effect is to manipulate the public’s sympathies.

It’s a powerful technique, if utterly shallow. After all, should we pass sweeping policy that impacts every single citizen in this nation based on a story told by some person found by a politician’s handlers to ring the right bells of identity politics and messaging?

Regardless, the tactic backfired on Obama recently when he used a woman named Leslie Macko as a prop in his push for an expansion of jobless benefits. Macko was held up as being representative of the sort of unemployed American the expansion would help. The problem? Macko’s a criminal with multiple convictions for larceny and abuse of prescription drugs.

President Barack Obama posed with a Charlottesville resident at a White House event on July 19. What we didn’t know – and what the White House may not have known – is that court records show she’s been found guilty of two crimes.

In his daily press briefing Thursday afternoon, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the White House would have never invited Leslie Macko to pose with President Obama had they known about her criminal past. Macko, a Charlottesville resident, stood next to President Obama as his example of the need to extend jobless benefits.

“We need to extend unemployment compensation benefits for women like Leslie Macko, who lost her job at a fitness center last year, and has been looking for work ever since. Because she’s eligible for only a few more weeks of unemployment, she’s doing what she never thought she’d have to do. Not at this point, anyway. She’s turning to her father for financial support,” Obama said in his speech.

Macko was once employed at ACAC Fitness and Wellness Center in the Albemarle Square Shopping Center. However, in April 2009, a month after being found guilty of prescription drug fraud, she lost her job as an aesthetician in the spa at ACAC.

CBS19 learned Thursday that Macko, who appeared in the Rose Garden with President Barack Obama on July 19, has had more than one run-in with the law. In June of 2007, Macko was charged with grand larceny. The charge was reduced in court to petit larceny, and she was sentenced to two years probation.

Apparently her termination from the fitness center didn’t have anything to do with her criminal record, but then by law employers who learn of previously committed crimes after they’ve chosen to employ someone cannot use those crimes as reason for termination. So the fitness center could have fired her because of her previous crimes. They just can’t say that.

Maybe we should stick to passing policy based on the merits of that policy instead of some sappy story the politicians contrive.