Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Sex And Politics
What is it about these Democrats who can’t keep their pecker in their pants? From Clinton to Spitzer, Edwards, Weiner, and the Kennedys and Gary Hart before them, the best and the brightest have been disgraced and as a consequence lost the power of their office. Certainly Ted Kennedy and Clinton had to cede the high ground after their episodes. Was their moral outrage against injustice a rhetorical cover for their own trespasses or are the misdeeds a logical fall from such lofty heights? Or are they human merely, flawed like the rest of us?
At least some of the shocking sexuality seems to me to be a dare; a bizarre extension of the audacity that got them to their high position. Power looking for its margins or the pressure and scrutiny that comes with the office seeking an escape hatch.
One thing seems quite evident; they do not understand that a public person relinquishes his private person. The new technology is a 24/7 camera with microphone. Nothing is off the record. Nothing is off-limits. The ones who are caught must think they are living in FDR’s day or Warren Harding's. The era when reporters threw a blind eye is long past.
I would like to believe that these transgressions are all beside the point having nothing to do with policy-making. However true this may be it does reflect a profound stupidity or indifference to the public trust and a betrayal of the agenda they have professed to advance. One’s character is surely decisive In voter’s minds and aberrant behavior and then lying isn’t likely to win over any hearts.
Of course promiscuity isn’t restricted to Democrats. Republicans match up well with Gingrich, Schwarzenegger, Mark Sanford and John Ensign. None of them are poster boys for family values. It must be the power and privilege that are aphrodisiacs. Republicans who fell from grace resulted only in broken homes. Democrats had to settle for abandoned progressive programs and the country suffered.
On the far-right we witness the spectacle of Bible-thumpers preaching against the sinners who turn out to be themselves. On the left we have Spitzer and Weiner, our most forceful and eloquent voices, scolding corporate America, speaking truth to power from a media pulpit in moralistic tones….and then having to eat their own words.
(I wouldn’t know about such things since the last high office I held was milk monitor and that flirtation in the wardrobe with the girl who cleaned the erasers doesn’t count, does it?)
In the Arts I’m an advocate of separating the art from the artist. Our opinion of Picasso, the man, shouldn’t color our experience of his painting and sculpture. Or Pound, Eliot or Frost. It’s hard to turn away from their misogyny, anti-Semitism or misanthropy but we manage to do so. We might hunger to know about Beethoven but not resist his genius. The artistry issues from a different place possibly as compensation or as an anguished expression of a fevered mind.
Up until recently this separation was undoubtedly in place. But dem days is gone forever. We live in an age of blurred borders. Politics is entertainment, fact is fiction, music is fusion and life is confusion. Maybe the only constant is our appetite to create out-sized heroes and then knock them down to our size.