Why is it politicians never realize they’re doing something wrong until they get caught? Recently exposed New York Democrat Representative Anthony Weiner is only the latest example. Here’s a recently married guy, who by all accounts I’ve seen is fairly social media savvy, sending pictures of his penis out to women all over the country. His flirtatious internet interactions with women he’s not married to are beyond stupid. He has to know the chances of a tweet or an email or Facebook message being misdirected are great. I learned that lesson years ago. Remind me to tell you the story of my sending a Not Safe For Moms (NSFM) email to my mother. It was not pretty.
Rep Weiner is not the first and he won’t be the last politician caught up in a web of nonsense. It seems as soon as one scandal dies down another on rises to take its place. They range from the frivolous, like Rep. Weiner’s show and tell habits, to the very serious, like former Prince George’s County, MD County Executive Jack Johnson’s recent bribery conviction. Like the sun rising every day you can count on a politician doing something stupid, staunchly denying everything, blaming the press and then offering a feeble, hopefully career saving, apology. I call it the four step scandal process.
I especially love the solemn, sad-faced press conferences where politicians express regret and try to act shocked at their own behavior. I often wonder if they think we’ll accept their shock and dismay. Maybe they think we’ll believe they were possessed when they’re doing these things. The real root of their shock and dismay is that they got caught.
Normally at these press conferences the poor wife stands to the side trying to look lovingly at her husband while steam is coming from her ears. I’m waiting for the day that a scandal-plagued politician’s wife snaps in the middle of a press conference and delivers the ultimate beat down on her husband then launches into a Macho Man Randy Savage (RIP) style monologue about what she just did. Who could blame a wife for doing something like that?
Political wives as stages props seem to becoming a thing of the past though. At Rep. Weiner’s presser his wife didn’t show up for the song dance. So he stood on stage all alone facing a barrage of questions and seemingly shrinking with each answer.
I frequently ask myself if this is the best we can do. It seems like our politicians are inordinately drawn from the corrupt, dimwitted or morally bankrupt part of our society. Too many politicians seem like they’re only concerned with enriching themselves or using their position of power and influence to indulge their passions at the expense of their constituents. I find it hard to believe Rep. Weiner will be able to accomplish anything for his district during the remainder of his term. His already suspect stature is further diminished. While he suffers a personal embarrassment that will likely be forgotten when the next scandal arises, his constituents are the real losers in all this.
Sure all this hypocrisy is entertaining it’s also a key reason people are tuning politicians out. Over the years the population has grown more cynical and distrustful of elected officials. Who can blame ‘em? Unfortunately that means a less engaged and informed electorate. The voters who care to vote seem to make voting decisions based on the myths that campaigns create about their candidates. Or worse yet, they vote with no concern for the greater good. That’s a recipe for more scandals and political failure.