Friday, October 25, 2013

Jofi Joseph tweets his career away

It’s always amazing to me when highly-educated, presumably intelligent people with interesting, challenging, and enviable careers, and lofty positions like “director of nuclear non-proliferation on the White House National Security Council staff” do ultra-foolish, career altering/limiting things.

The latest Exhibit A is Jofi Joseph – he of the snappy Georgetown and Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton credentials, and a glam résumé that includes stints as a staffer for a U.S. Senator and the Foreign Relations Committee – who was fired after it was revealed that he was author a series of snarky and venomous tweets:

In his Twitter biography, now removed from the social networking site, Joseph described himself as a "keen observer of the foreign policy and national security scene" who "unapologetically says what everyone else only thinks."
As the widely followed @NatSecWonk, Joseph speculated anonymously about the political motives and career moves of administration officials he worked with. (Source: Huffington Post.)

Admittedly, speculating “about the political motives and career moves” of colleagues is one of the essential pleasures of work life. But most of us don’t have colleagues that anyone outside the firewall gives a hoot about, and most of us do our snarking over lunch, not over Twitter.

His tweets attacked, among others, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Powers (for her use of Twitter, of all things), and Sarah Palin (and her “white trash” family)

Josh Rogin of The Daily Beast, who reported the firing, noted that Joseph also took on key Obama aide Valerie Jarrett, who he called a “vacuous cipher.” In addition, Joseph took a swipe at Huma Abedin:

“Was Huma Abedin wearing beer goggles the night she met Anthony Wiener?” (Source: Daily Beast.)

Certainly, there are plenty of us who have asked similar questions.

And no doubt Twitters will be taking to the Tweet-waves to ask the same about what Joseph’s wife, a current staffer on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sees in him.

And how amusing, no?, that the same medium that took down Wiener has taken down Joseph?

But, as I said, who among us has not taken pot shots at those we work with. Sniping at senior management is one of those free perks that most of us enjoy. But there’s a time. And a place. And a medium.

And it seems to me that, if you’re working in the sort of sensitive and fairly public position that Joseph held, you’d be wise to limit your comments to water cooler or pillow talk. (Advantage: you’re not constrained to 140 characters, and unless someone is illegally taping you, what you say can’t get thrown back in your face.)

If Joseph had serious policy differences with the Administration, or had material knowledge of malfeasance, then resign and/or take it public. Write an Op-Ed in The Washington Post. Don’t just put nasty gossip-girl crap out there anonymously.

And how could Joseph not have realize that if he pissed off enough - and senior enough - folks, he was bound to be outed.

At least Joseph had the grace to take full responsibility:

"What started out as an intended parody account of DC culture developed over time into a series of inappropriate and mean-spirited comments. I bear complete responsibility for this affair and I sincerely apologize to everyone I insulted," Joseph said in an email to Politico.(Source: Huffington Post.)

But I suspect he’s going to have a difficult time finding another policy position like the one he held.

Sure, he can write a book. (The contract’s probably in the mail.) And some college or university will take him on as an adjunct for a course or two on foreign policy.

But who’s going to trust him as “real” employee, as a colleague, as someone you manage?

What is it with these dumb smart people?

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