There were a lot of headlines this week from which to choose the subject of this week’s essay. A continuing war in Libya that is escalating in cost; a secret war in Yemen involving US forces; the US economy nearing free fall; Presidential hopefuls who have declared themselves to be “in;” those who have declared themselves to be “out;” and those who said they were “out” but who really mean that they’re “in.”
As compelling as those topics are, I found myself nearly obsessed with the Twitter scandal of the Congressman from New York City, Anthony Weiner. Please let me explain. This is not about the sordid details of the transgression, once denied but now admitted. Many, but certainly not all, of the facts are now in evidence. This is not intended to be a psychological analysis of what drove him to his actions. I will leave that to the long discussions he will have with his analyst.
Rather, this is intended to be a discussion of what is relevant to the conversation we are having about the future of our Republic. Every day, we slide deeper and deeper into debt to nations that do not have our best interests at heart. Every day, we make financial gifts to unstable foreign governments. We write checks against borrowed money. Every day, we are undermining long standing relationships and alliances with nations who have been our only friend in regions of great turmoil. Every day, we add fuel to the fires of the Arab Spring cum Summer that will have outcomes in the transference of power that, once again, do not have the best interests of the United States in mind, much less that of Israel.
Gas prices hovering near $4 per gallon; food prices skyrocketing; engagement in 3 military conflicts that snatch the treasures of our youth; the US Dollar depreciating against all currencies, including the Yen! (One would think the one country we should have an advantage against is one whose industry has been ravaged by tsunami and earthquake and radiation.) Home mortgages underwater in record numbers; State and municipal budgets in shambles; the 2011 Federal budget the product of a continuing resolution and the 2012 budget not yet proposed by the President.
There is a lot on our plate. And what dominated the conversation in Washington? A photograph did. A self-portrait, if you will, of the member of a Member of Congress, and the deceitful behavior that followed. While Rome burned, Congressman Weiner was chatting it up with hotties across the country whom, supposedly, he had never met, exchanging sexual pleasantries as if they were his with his wife. His wife. Did I mention that he has a wife?
So, now Congressman Weiner joins a long line of recent reprobates from government: Elliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton, John Edwards, and Wilbur Mills to name a few. I could go far back in time to other notables but these will suffice.
Call me a Pollyanna but I really do love the Jimmy Stewart/Frank Capra classic movie, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” It premiered in 1939 and remains quite relevant to contemporary times. Mr. Smith was tempted by fame, fortune and femme fatales but managed to cling to the roots of what made him the man that he was.
Ultimately, the real Mr. Smith prevailed. It was a happy ending. I hold out less confidence for the current crop of long term incumbents in Washington. The problem is this: I cannot trust them: not with my finances; not with my liberty; and, certainly not with daughters!
I am astounded that so many people remain un-offended by Congressman Weiner’s actions. Imagine if it were your daughter on the receiving end of the photo texts or intimate telephone chats. Imagine if it were your daughter were an intern in the Clinton White House. I, for one, cannot separate public performance from personal behavior. They are linked.
There was a time when serving as an intern or page was nothing but prestigious. Now, it is tainted with scandal by self-serving narcissists who think that government is them. We are the government and we deserve better. I want to hold my Congressman in high esteem. I want them to behave in the best possible manner. I want them to be a reflection of a society that I believe is good, true and moral.
Jerry Springer Nation has arrived in Washington. If they won’t resign on their own, let’s do it the old fashioned way. Vote the bums out.