January 9, 2010
Budget Director Gone WildBy Lisa Schiffren
Well no wonder the U.S. budget is out of control. Peter Orszag, the Obama White House Budget Director -- a very senior job on anyone's economic team -- does not appear to have been focused like a laser on his job this year. Mr. Orszag, 41, widely hailed by the MSM as a brilliant, energetic economics nerd, just announced the birth of a baby daughter to a girlfriend whom he dumped during her pregnancy -- and his engagement to a woman he met a week after the prior relationship ended. Nice.
Orszag, who is divorced with two young children, had been dating a woman the New York Post describes as a shipping heiress and venture capitalist named Claire Milonas, 39. The Post reports,
Yeah. He met a hot ABC economics reporter, Bianna Golodryga, 31, at the White House Correspondents' dinner. Younger. Cuter. Not pregnant.
Orszag and Milonas issued a joint statement, saying, "We were in a committed relationship until the spring of 2009. In November, Claire gave birth to a beautiful baby girl." They requested privacy. Sure. But first, please tell us what, precisely, "committed" means here? Orszag's three children need to know.
You know, I liked that President Obama spoke out against dads ditching their "baby mamas" and kids. Given the national illegitimacy rate, and his own experience, it seems like a reasonable position...as did his stated emphasis on "character" and "ethics." I know that old-fashioned terms like "moral turpitude" are cause for snickering these days. I know that defining deviancy down by accepting ghetto mores at the tippy-top of government isn't much of a concern to lots of Americans...unless, that is, the public figure in question is the teenage daughter of a conservative politician. Bristol Palin, not yet a high school graduate at the time, was treated with vast contempt for getting knocked up out of wedlock. Bad example, don't you know.
Mr. Orszag, with his B.A. from Princeton and a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics, a man who is in charge of balancing the nation's budget and devising economic rationales for this administration's policy-driven spending sprees, also doesn't seem to know how contraception works.
Media contempt? Not yet.
For the record, I've considered that the 39-year-old heiress/venture capitalist just wanted a sperm donor, given that the biological clock was ticking. Not buying it. But if so, isn't it the job of a budget director to learn how to say "no" to irresponsible behavior? And why would he want yet another family entanglement, in another city, with another tiny child who needs a father she isn't really going to have? Given his new wife, and his old wife and kids, Orszag will end up sending monthly checks to help with little Tatiana at best...which, come to think of it, is a lot like so many of the policies this government favors: Do what you want; someone in Washington will send a check to cover it.
For that matter, perhaps Orszag is shoring up a drifting Democratic base. The end of marriage has been a great boon to statists everywhere. There is no more reliable vote for big spending than single mothers. Now he's made two.
It's worth checking out how the leading media outlets are covering the story.
The N.Y. Post snarkily disapproves ("Obama Budget Director Makes a Lovechild" is the header). Lots of pictures, which are always useful in a story like this. And a touching note about new mom Claire Milanos's reading material: a book called When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times is on her Amazon wish list.
Tucked away in the New York Times online "Caucus Blog" on politics (under the anodyne headline, "A Third Child for Orszag") are just the facts. Now when do they ever do that? No moralizing or rationalizations yet from Maureen Dowd or Gail Collins.
CNN defends Orszag in their very short story, "Obama Official confirms birth of a child." A little cold there, but for this last little justification by an unnamed source: " A source close to Orszag, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, emphasized that the 'relationship was clearly over before he met Bianna.'"
"'They are two adults who are working out what's best for everyone,' the source said of Orszag and Milonas." Yes. Of course this is best for everyone. The kids. The ditched ex. Everyone. In the comments section, CNN readers object to the fact that the story was run at all. Private life, you know.
Hard not to love the Washington Examiner header -- "Peter Orszag Love Child! What?" The piece comes with photos that suggest Orszag is an unlikely "player."
But my favorite piece to date, because it gets to the heart of the matter, comes from the Washington Post. Yes. The Post. Read Joel Achenbach's fabulous "Peter Orszag Runs Wild" all the way through for insight and laughs. Here's how it starts:
Indeed. Achenbach spins out the complications -- the impossibilities of this particular life/work balance, as the current mantra goes.
Meanwhile, it may be time for some revision on the rising Orszag myth. Last spring, the New Yorker, in a loving piece by Ryan Lizza, noted that it is Orszag's job to make the budget come out so that all the idealists who have flocked to D.C. to enact universal health care, fix the inner cities, and end global warming will have the tax dollars to do so. "That makes Peter Orszag more than just the budget director. He is the unlikely guardian of Obamaism itself."
Can he save the Obama agenda? Will the Obama agenda have to save him? (Nah. No one cares about this. Even the tabloids can't gin up a big scandal when serious policy is going to hell.) Just this week the NY Times, which loves Orszag, pointed out how hard it really is given this nuisance of a recession, problems with Medicare, the costs of health care in general, disputes on growth projections, and, oh, unemployment. Lucky he doesn't have to wake up in the middle of the night to help with his new daughter, Tatiana Zoe.