"Imprudent Curiosity"

A campaign blog.
March 21 2008 12:29 PM

"Imprudent Curiosity"

Of all the explanations floated as to why three State Department employees were snooping around Barack Obama's passport files—and, it now turns out , Hillary Clinton's and John McCain's—the most plausible one is also the simplest: "imprudent curiosity."

That's what State Department spokesman Sean McCormick called it, and although his job is to spin, it rings true. Temp jobs are inherently unaccountable—you're in, you do your work, you're out. You're less likely to want to develop a lasting relationship with your employer and therefore might be more willing to take a peek at federal records, especially if they're sitting there under your nose.


Naturally, the State Deptartment had to react forcefully, lest anyone believe suggestions that the security breach was political motivated. Condoleezza Rice called Obama personally to apologize and promised a full investigation. But all signs so far point to plain old nosiness. It's hard to see partisanship playing a role: Andrea Mitchell points out that Maura Harty, the person in charge of management and consular affairs, has worked in both Republican and Democratic administrations. Plus, the same employees peeked at Clinton and McCain's files, too. Seems more like a case of managerial incompetence than partisan skullduggery.

But hey, at least Obama got another umbrage-taking opportunity out of it.

Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Sept. 21 2014 11:00 AM Sometimes You Just Need to Print Your Photos the Old-Fashioned Way 
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.