Friday, June 10, 2011

The Weiner Affair And The Disintegration Of Our Politics

"I used to be disgusted. But now I'm just amused"
- Elvis Costello

Much has been said about the lack of civility in our political discourse, the declining quality of our politics and politicians.

The current reaction to the Anthony Weiner sexting scandal is a pretty large sign post for anyone looking for an explanation.But not perhaps for the obvious reasons.

After all, sex scandals involving politicians have been around ever since man began living in civilized communities. In our own political history, we've had a lot of presidential mistresses and assignations, a president who had an illegitimate child he had to acknowledge in the middle of a campaign, another president who was known for having bootleg liquor, whores and all night poker parties with his cronies in the White House, a congressional leader who made an absolute idiot of himself over a stripper, and a presidential front runner caught on a yacht with his mistress and a flock of other women, photographed with his eyes looking like a pair of squashed grapes.

And that was all before Bill Clinton blew into DC and gave a whole new meaning to the phrase 'Have a cigar.'

What's changed is how we as a society regard low morality in our leaders, whether it is sexual, financial or political.

In the past, such behavior - particularly sexual behavior- was conducted with great discretion and secrecy, and when it wasn't, American society almost always demanded the resignation or retreat from public life of the politician involved.

Not anymore. At least when it comes to our political elites.

There was a time when getting caught sending salacious messages and graphic photos to underage girls would have been cause for widespread contempt in both the public and one's congressional colleagues and leadership, and a cause for intense pressure to resign 'for the good of the party', as the media beat the drums. Based on the defenses I'm hearing from Democrats for Anthony Weiner, that no longer applies.

In an unintentional bit of wicked irony, one of Weiner's chief defenders in Congress is none other than Representative Charlie Rangel. It says a great deal that Rangel himself, a corrupt tax cheat and thief who would be rotting in jail if he wasn't a congressman, a Democrat and a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus sees Weiner as having 'done nothing wrong' and Rangel is certainly not alone in that.

Just for giggles, let's extrapolate this from an empirical point of view rather than a moral one. This is not 'just about sex.' We have here a public servant committing what amounts to lewd acts with women young enough to be his daughter that could even be said to be borderline sexual harassment, doing it as a newlywed of less than a year with an attractive young wife and as an expectant father, doing it repeatedly with no thought of the consequences and then attempting to cover it up with a cock and bull story that showed no respect either for himself, his spouse or his constituents.

One could say with justification that Congressman Weiner has an overpowering weakness in a certain area and that he has abysmally poor judgment.

Now imagine that this gets shoved under the rug, and Congressman Weiner continues his career and that he eventually ascends to a crucial committee chairmanship..Homeland Security, Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, Intelligence, something like that.

So we would have someone who's already demonstrated his horrible judgment and who is prone to an overpowering weakness when it comes to very young women in a key decision making and advisory position and with access to government secrets.

What if our enemies know about this weakness and exploit it by setting Congressman Weiner up in a situation where he can be blackmailed, influenced or successfully pumped for information by a young female he's seeking to impress..who just happens to be a spy? Such things have happened before. The Soviets used this technique many times, especially in Europe and called it a 'Honey Trap.' Among many occasions, they used it on New York Times reporter Walter Duranty to obtain favorable coverage even in the worst days of Stalin's tyranny. They even used it once in our own embassy in Moscow to compromise the military guards there and get access to bug the embassy.

Or what if someone takes advantage of Weiner's foible to influence his vote, get him to lend his influence to passing certain legislation or towards getting a certain position in Washington filled, or to avoid questioning or thoroughly examining someone or something?

None of these are trivial questions.

Neither is the idea of what acceptance of this kind of behavior does to government in general.

When a president, a cabinet official or a congressperson is guilty of corruption or moral turpitude and gets away with it, it does something horrific to out trust in government officials. A large part of the consent of the governed our system is based on consists of that trust and respect, and when a Charlie Rangel, a Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, a Bill Clinton or an Anthony Weiner breaches that standard egregiously and gets away with it, it reflects on everyone in government and lessens that trust and respect.

Weiner's defenders seem to either not understand that or simply not care, and yet these are the same people who seize on every event and every sentence no matter how trivial that comes out of Sarah Palin's or Michelle Bachmann's mouth as headline news and an opportunity to attack them.

The juxtaposition is interesting. On the one hand, we have two women whom are in relatively normal and traditional marriages and who enjoy committed, close and even admirable family lives,while on the other hand we have a man who has created what is obviously a dysfunctional marriage due to his own sleazy behavior. Yet it is these women who are demonized and attacked on a constant basis, even to the point of exhortations to gang rape and death threats, some issued under the guise of 'comedy'.

Is it any wonder that people sense a decline in the quality of those people willing to run for office and serve nowadays?

In the end of course, it's all about the Agenda. Anthony Weiner has no plans to resign his seat, nor is there any real pressure for him to do so from the members of his own party, notwithstanding a few public statements on the matter. If he had any respect for his oath of office, he'd resign immediately. Instead, he's going to Get Out Of Dodge for awhile, go to rehab, wait for the fuss to die down and resume his career as an up and coming Democrat.

The real problem is not just Weiner's actions, but those of his enablers. It's not just merely embarrassing that they're not embarrassed. It's a real symptom of decay and a danger to our Republic. If a rising tide lifts all boats, a sharply lowered one puts them all in danger of running aground.

please helps me write more gooder!


louielouie said...

.... you danced around "the sack full of hair" very nicely .......

Rosey said...

Sadly you are spot on. Not much to add. I am extremely disillusioned. I have always voted, but it is this disillusionment that leads to apathy, and not bothering to vote. I will vote for whoever or whatever runs against BamBam. Could be an effing scarecrow for all I care.

Not sure there is a point in voting in non-presidential elections, as the winner is pre-ordained.

Rob said...

When you don't vote and get apathetic, , you play into their game.