Obama's 'Yes we can' man left red-faced

Rupert Cornwell
Friday 05 December 2008 17:38

It most definitely was not in the script – an item posted on the internet showing Barack Obama's top wordsmith being less than respectful of Hillary Clinton, whose nomination as Secretary of State was supposed to show that all was forgiven between the arch rivals of the Democratic primaries.

The trouble arose yesterday afternoon when some photos briefly appeared on the social networking site Facebook, showing Jon Favreau, the president-elect's boy-wonder chief speech writer, dancing at a party with a lifesize cut-out of the soon-to-be chief diplomat of the US.

In another picture, the 27-year-old Favreau (credited with inventing the 'Yes We Can' slogan that became Mr Obama's rhetorical trademark) is seen placing his hand on Ms Clinton's cardboard chest, while a friend is pressing a beer to the lips of the former first lady and outgoing New York Senator.

But what the internet giveth, it can instantly take away. According to the popular 'The Loop' column of the Washington Post, which first reported the incident, the pictures were taken down in a couple of hours. All that remains on the site is an utterly unexceptionable profile shot of Mr Favreau.

Just in case however, the speechwriter moved with alacrity to repair any damage. According to an Obama transition official, Mr Favreau "had reached out to Senator Clinton to offer an apology." But the the lady herself does not seem bothered in the least.

"Senator Clinton is pleased to learn of Jon's obvious interest in the State Department," Philippe Reines, a Clinton spokesman, noted in an email to 'The Loop, "and is currently reviewing his application."

One mystery however is unresolved. Precisely how will Mr Favreau respond to the questions on the elaborate vetting form to be completed by people seeking jobs in the new administration, that demands details of websites that featured them – and whether they had done anything "that could be a possible source of embarrassment to you…or the president-elect?"

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