Observing Life Through Polarized Glasses
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JUNE 7, 2011 1:33PM

What's With Politicians These Days, Anyway?

Rate: 4 Flag

Briefly thyself remember: the sword is out
That must destroy thee.
– King Lear


  • A conservative Florida congressman sends salacious emails to an underage congressional page.
  • An Idaho U.S. Senator who stakes his popularity on “family values” gets caught making homosexual advances in a public restroom in a Minneapolis airport and sticks out the rest of his term, hoping the public will just let it go.  It doesn’t.
  • A married New York state governor gets nailed for using high priced hookers and resigns in disgrace. And becomes a TV pundit.
  • Another married senator from Louisiana big on “values” seems to have a predilection for pay-for-sex dalliances, admits to them publicly and promptly returns to the Senate chamber and a standing ovations from his party colleagues.
  • A South Carolina governor big on God, gays, and guns hightails it to Argentina to do the nasty with a girlfriend and has the sheet pulled off his extracurricular activities – which have nothing to do with hiking trails.
  • Another Carolinian, this one a presidential candidate, carries on with a woman not his wife actually fathers a child with her and thinks he can hide this “unpleasantness” indefinitely but nonetheless is found out ten years later, and now stands accused of misuse of campaign money.
  • A Nevada senator elected on “values” gets caught boinking a staffer whose husband is also on his payroll and even arranges a payoff for them to keep quiet - with the help of another  Senate colleague. (This one may wind up in criminal court, too.)
  • A multi-millionaire, California movie muscleman-turned-governor marries into one of the most iconic political families in America and winds up exposed for leading a double life as the father of a child born - of his maid!  “Dad” heads to Hollywood and the wife for Hyannisport.
  • A Georgia ex-Speaker of the House who builds a business on conservative punditry (read: family values) dumps  Wife No. 1 (who happened to be his high school math teacher) who gets cancer,  for girlfriend / Wife No. 2 and, while leading the charge for impeach Bill Clinton for bnewt-gingrichounding, carries on with some young thing 23 years his junior, who eventually becomes Wife No. 3.
  • A New York state congressman noted for his liberalism, in an incredibly immature and stupid act,  “tweets” pictures of his bulging briefs and buff upper body to someone he doesn’t even know. (Stay tuned on this one. There's surely more to come!) 

On and on. My guess is that this is just the tip of the iceberg. My further guess is that the old rules don’t apply anymore. What with an explosion in the ways to get into the private lives of notorious people (and who more notorious than the people who are elected to be our leaders?) these people are, like the Congress itself on almost everything, just a little late in understanding that they can’t permanently hide their private lives from the public anymore. 

There’s another notion at play here, too. It’s that when you get to be someone really, really, important - especially if you’re a pol - you begin to think you can control your public image. That’s just insane. It’s one thing when my next door neighbor suddenly drags a U-Haul trailer to his house to fill up with his fishing rods and hand tools and drives away forever because he strayed. He won’t even make Page 3 of the local blatt; but if you’re in the public eye…..tread softly, dude, because you’re being watched! The rules of the Sexual Revolution don’t apply to you because you made a promise to be a model citizen. And when you actually legislate behavior or social rules and then violate them, well, don’t expect the voters to give you a pass. (Except if your constituency is the state of Louisiana!)

In the old days, the press protected a pol from that sort of thing out of respect for the office a politician held. We’ll probably never know the extent of the carryings on of some of our political office holders of yore. Now and then we get glimmerings: JFK, of course; FDR’s Lucy Mercer; Ike’s Kay Summersby; Wilbur Mills his "Argentine Firecracker" or even Harding’s reputed wanderings which some have speculated wound up with him being poisoned to death by his wife in a San Francisco hotel room.

Nowadays, for every old school scribe who protects a politician, there are dozens of Andrew Breitbarts or Fox News Networks waiting for the next screwup. With oodles of dollars of internet and cable TV advertising staked on readership “hits” and viewership, scandalizing has become a big business unto itself, for there's nothing more juicy, it appears,  than watching the powerful teeter and then fall. In 21st century America it's a bloodsport.

And lately, there seems to be no dearth of  scandalous, bottom feeding reportage diverting the public from a little more  serious issues. Why bother with a picture of Lloyd Blankfein endorsing his latest Goldman Sachs bonus check for a couple of billion bucks made off the back of some schlemiel who lost his job bolting fenders on to a new Pontiac when we can look at Anthony Weiner's junk-filled BVD's?


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Amen brother. EIther we need to revise our views of politicians (ala the French who seem to not care what or who their leaders are dallying with) or we need to start doing background checks BEFORE the election to determine how sleazy the person is.....
I learned this from the adults in my life.
I don't think this behavior is anything new. What is new is the media and its ability to broadcast these "events" to the masses in real time, which both quenches the insatiable thirst for this genre of current events and brings people back for more. If these men want to partake in risky behavior, they must be prepared for the fall out.
This is a great post! You really covered the evolution of what it means to be in office these days.
I' sorry, but was that a typo or is there really a New JERSEY congressman who's every bit as stupid - and every bit as buff - as Anthony Weiner?

The problem with these politicians is that they are men first and politicians second, but they have been driven to the summit of our society by drive, ambition, testosterone, and a deep hunger for attention.

It's the attention needs that get them into trouble. The higher a politician climbs - unless he is a really psychopathic personality with a meglomania obsession - the more incompetent he feels because the problems facing our elected representatives are truly insurmountable, which leaves them feeling, very, very inadequate.

That leaves them needing positive reinforcment and, as they inch toward their fifties, increasingly, that positive reinforcement includes evidence of their continuing masculinity and atttractiveness to the other sex.

It is really about sex per se, because Weiner didn't get any unless he did it himself....but politicians need to feel powerful and nowhere does that need get fed more quickly or more powerfully than in the realm of sexual conquest.

Sooner or later, had he not been tripped up, Weiner would have gone all the way, and then the weiner would really have been in the bun, so to speak.
Care to name the North Carolina governor who hightailed off to Argentina as you claim?
OK. . OK. . OK!!!

Sanford is from SOUTH Carolina. . and. . Weiner and his pecker represent New YORK. . . . details. . . WHATever. . . .

Trust me, what wrong with Congressmen, both in this century and the one previous, is NOT that their peccadilloes become memorialized in print, voice, or video.
As long as Americans keep convincing themselves they they have some lock on morality or even the right religious choice, the gossip minded and the petty will get caught up in the games which are played by the politcal hacks who have no morals, but use the societal markers of that religion deeply rooted in our collective psyches.

Those elected in the midterms claimed jobs were their main issue, so they got elected by angry statement making electorate, now those same folks are going after democracy, bargaining, wages, abortion rights... pretty much bold faced lies by elected officials.

I don't see the GOP removing most of their entire elected party, even though they support the policies that have been factually proven to actually worsen the recovery, but their quest for power over-rides that same moral outrage.
This nations continued forcing of the right wing agenda and its accompanied false moral highground stance, just proves that the media is manipulated as much as the electorate and that the real need to get issues dealt with has been bought and sold by a media that would rather make profits and get numbers than inform and educate the public on issues that really will detrmine the fate of their lives and potential happiness in the future.
If this was GOP leader, this would be a "christianity forgiveness moment" and the coverage would be lame-stream and the GOP would be asking to let the issue be decided by the future electorate.

Religion and all associated self-righteous indignation belongs outside of rational and true political debate. Morality is subjective and often only as horrible as those who keep giving substance to issues that are really between the person their faimily and the god of their belief, if they even believe at all.
@ Uncle Cri and Citizen Justice

Sorry for the geography goofs. I figured if I got within 100 miles of it, I'd be okay. At least some of you are keeping me honest.

Anyway....noted and corrected.
I’ll tell you what’s wrong with politicians today—no privacy!

Their stupid wives keep finding their penis pictures and hooker receipts.

What they need is a nice quiet place where they can spend time with their mistresses, whores and goats without the fear of being exposed and judged.

These men have needs damn-it!

If having affairs help them do their jobs—I say strap on a hooker like a feedbag and get to work boys!

Hell, we’ve tried everything else to get them to do their jobs.

If the media are bottomfeeders it's because the public adores the muck they dredge up. Why bother thinking about the debt ceiling or the war in Afghanistan when there are stories about genitalia or cats on Youtube who can flush a toilet?
@ Drew-Silla

Exactly right. The press/internet/TV talking heads just give people what they want. And God knows sex scandals sell. The amount of bandwidth given this latest Anthony Weiner dust-up is just amazing.
I think we should be focused on the poor job our politicians are doing and let the scandals rest for a moment. Who they mess around with doesn't impact my day, but how they are "screwing" all of us out of our income does.

I wish the media would focus on how the politicians should be working to get gas prices cut in half of what they are now and the banks to solve the real estate crisis they created with our money.

The messing around goes back to JFK and probably before, but it was swept under the carpet back then.

Let's fix the real problems that impact all of us, first.
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