There is something special that happens with a persons ascension to power. When the personal coffers flow and celebrity draws the dumb masses to your feet with whispers you can only interpret as confirmation of your greatness...well, the world changes. And it does it all for you. How could it not? The stars have aligned with no purpose other than to proclaim your superiority. It doesn't matter how you got there...athlete, movie star, singer, or politician...they are all the same, paths to a destiny meant only for the anointed amongst us. And when you get there it simply would not do to concern yourself with the petty matters in life...your new calling can be nothing less than the indulgent self adulation to which you are most certainly entitled.
So here we are in very familiar circumstances...yet another elite darling caught in a sex scandal...kind of. Big shocker, eh?
In case the opening paragraph didn't make the point, I absolutely detest the rich and powerful. It's not the money they have, or necessarily the power either. It's what these things so often do to those that have them. Consider, for example, one of Rep. Weiners friends, Ben Affleck. Now big Ben, as I never like to call him, at one point was a simple rube with a lucky break. But now, despite being a mediocre actor at best, it would seem that in some circles he's something of a pop-culture Pope...and to listen to the guy sometimes, one would think that he actually believes it. And he's got nothing on the hubris of his buddy, Matt Damon. What is it that makes these people think that because they got a lucky break or two that all of a sudden they are smarter than the average guy...that somewhere along the line they sprouted a brain and are in fact now experts on everything from poverty to foreign affairs? To listen to them certainly disproves any such thing, no?
But I digress.
The point of this rant concerns itself not with spoiled Hollywood morons, but with another spoiled moron of a different profession: New York Representative Anthony Weiner. For those who haven't paid attention to the news as of late, let me sum up the story briefly and concisely: Weiner got caught sending somewhat risque photos of himself to a woman not his wife, and has been found to have been involved with several women via social networking sites.
Several Republicans are of course calling for his head on a pike, and there appear to be a few liberals who are willing to go along with that. Most, in fact, are distancing themselves from him quite rapidly. Even his buddy Jon Stewart, the man of absolute character that he is, has said that he should step down. This is quite amazing, since Weiner has up until now been an effective and prized champion pit-bull for the left. Me, I think it's absolute nonsense.
Let's be clear here. It was not all that long ago that Billy Blythe III (aka President William J. Clinton) had been serviced quite thoroughly in no place less than the sacred chamber of the Oval Office. For those that remember, at that time Republicans were then also calling for the transgressors head on a pike, resulting in a successful impeachment of the man. He didn't step down, and he was not removed. I thought it was a deplorable act, to the point that I would have concurred with a resignation, but only because I felt it clearly demonstrated a deep contempt for the dignity of the office. The thought of a self-indulgent hippy desecrating the space that had been the office of men far greater than he with animal house antics, well, it caused me some offense, let's put it that way.
But this is something different. First off, this is an incident in which the offensive person merely sent a few photos of himself to another adult via his cell phone. From what I have seen and what I understand thus far, the pictures themselves were, as I said previously, somewhat risque, but otherwise relatively tame. What's more, they appeared to be taken from outside of his office. Bubba, on the other hand, was investigating the tenderness of a woman's tonsils with his somewhat fleshy tongue depressor, all whilst reclining in the chair of the Commander-in-Chief for one of the most noble civilizations in human history (or so we were). To me, these two events are not on the same level of offense. And remember, Bubba got away with it, so there is no way we can pretend anything near consistency by calling for Weiners head. Ahem.
And let us not forget that inappropriate behavior does not restrict itself to the liberals alone. Whilst the libs tend to define themselves in part by their self-indulgence and narcissism, Republicans have had a scandal or two themselves. I have no problems with setting high standards of morality for elected representatives, but Republicans may want to make sure their own house is clean for a while before casting stones. Otherwise, you will inevitably make yourselves look like a bunch of hypocritical asses to a large number of people with little appetite for congressional antics.
Yes, Weiner is a scumbag. But he's a liberal, it is to be expected, no? However, his reckoning is with his wife and his constituents, not the establishment parties. He ought to be stripped of any committee positions or other special offices, certainly. But the rest is a matter between him and those who elected him as far as I am concerned. Let him meet them as a simple and hopefully humbled man, and let them determine his fate.
Not that I am buying into the possibility of real humility for the guy. The lack of sincerity and humility is epidemic in the halls of power, of that much I am sure. When Sen. Chuck Schumer half-heartedly defends him as a "talented and committed public servant", I almost vomit in my mouth a little."Public servant"? Really? It has been some time since most of congress were truly in it to serve the public. Let's get real...most (but not all) of them are in it to serve themselves, not the public. The actions of Rep. Weiner make it clear what sort he is.
And another point before I move on: when the defenders come to his aid with praises for at least confessing his wrongs, we ought be clear about one thing...prior to "confessing" he lied for about a week, blaming it on his account supposedly being hacked. Sorry, but you don't get the credit for being a truth telling confessor after a week of lying and attempted cover-up. By saying that he "confessed" without reference to the previous lies, you give the impression of him as a man of at least some character who admitted his error up front, when in fact this is false. It would be far more accurate to say that he finally admitted the truth, rather than gloss over the truth by simply crediting him with an unqualified confession.
Back to the point. We live in the age of Barney Frank, a despicable fixture in the House of Representatives, who has regular dalliances with other men, and a reputation for lascivious indulgences that would make Caligula proud. Yet, we say almost nothing as to the character of this corrupt homosexual power-monger. And his sexual appetites aside, there is more than enough to convict him, were our system not a broken one without regard for equal justice for all men. But when we so relax our standards that we repeatedly elect leaders with such gluttonous appetites as Barney Frank, I fear that we will only look nothing less than stupid in our hypocrisy whenwe go after Weiner for a few pictures.
We need to clean house, there is no question. And I've no doubt that Weiner is corrupt, even if for no other reason than the fact that he is a modern liberal politician, and therefore is in his heart and mind treacherously opposed to the values and principles upon which this country was founded. But aggressive pursuit in this little incident will come across as petty, because in the grand scheme it is petty. We stopped trying to elect saints many decades ago. Neuter the guy politically if you can, sure, but don't make the mistake of again portraying yourselves as the guardians of moral purity...it doesn't work because nobody buys it.
EDIT: Apparently there is a photo sent by Rep. Weiner of an unclothed, er, wiener. This adds a little bit more to the level of douche-baggery, for certain, but my points still stand.
EDIT #2: I wrote this rant with only a smattering of research on the matter, thinking that little else needed to be revealed. Afterwards I looked a little deeper into the chit-chat surrounding the topic and found 2 noticable items of interest. 1) Where I thought I was being slightly clever with tagging this issue as "Weinergate", it seems that at least one other person beat me to the punch. Damn. 2) While I did not refer beforehand to any of the opinions by persons I normally respect in the political chattering class, I was quite heartened to find my own sentiments nearly parroted by none other than the great Charles Krauthammer, although he of course put things far more eloquently than I. See his commentary on O'Reilly here.