Well, okay, I know you have a take on Weinergate. The left loses a hero! So lay that bulge on us, Dust! And don’t be shy!
Amazingly, I got more mail about Anthony Weiner’s penis than I did about Osama Bin Laden’s death, although both celebrated the deflation of a feared icon in the same near-hysterical pitch. I’m not sure exactly what that says about us culturally, but it can’t be good.
I think even if you loathe Anthony Weiner’s politics, and rejoice as his name is traduced across the cable spectrum for certain improprieties, you’d still have to concede that he is a highly intelligent and media-savvy politician. Therefore, the most important question to me is: through what flowering of desire and denial does a smart man find himself acting like such an utter fucking moron? Because if you strip away marital moral judgments, and the quasi-legalities of sexting pixel-groupies, the simple illogic of his behavior is breathtaking. Did he really think those women were his friends? That he could trust them not to reveal any of his pictures? That due to a magic internet logarithm dick shots reduce to ash twenty-four hours after being sent? It’s inconceivable that he imagined his dorky expressions of lust and sad lowing for companionship (a hundred and forty characters to cum), eternally inscribed onto a server the second he pressed SEND, wouldn’t eventually make the news. And if he really was exchanging messages with a seventeen year-old girl, and knew that was her age and continued to do it anyway, he should resign with his tail (insert Lenoesque girth joke here) glued firmly between his legs.
But if his sexting partners were merely married, pregnant, or bored, do I care about this purported salaciousness one iota? Do I think it in any way reflects on his grasp of policy or ability to represent his district? No, I don’t. The self-righteous clamor for his resignation is borne of a tacit denial that we all, of every possible stripe and political stance, go home and do naked stuff (unless you’re a plushy) that would be beyond mortifying were the details to be made public.
When will we tire of ginned up, hypocritical, and voyeuristic notions of “scandal”? When will we embrace the fact that almost all politicians need to bust a nut once in a while (Tea Party fave Alexander Hamilton was nailed for adultery/blackmail way back in 1791) and have every right to continue to do so? Personal sexual behavior should be off the table for both parties and all media into perpetuity. If a certain multi-term Republican senator wants to pretend he’s straight while sucking off guys in an airport bathroom, that’s fine with me. Or at least it’s none of my business. I would vote for a guy who blows dudes at the Delta terminal without hesitation if his views on climate change aligned with mine. I likewise don’t care if John Ensign screwed someone on his staff and then made his parents pay a hundred grand to shut her up. What I do care about is the fact that he’s an evangelical pharisee who is wrong on almost every possible issue. His sexuality is entirely his own purview. In any case, the real people who should be vilified and blackballed are those that go digging into other people’s sex lives under the guise of journalism, sanctimony, or upholding protean theological dictates.
Listen, no one wants Newt Gingrich to be president. And that’s mainly because he’s a tedious gasbag–not because he likes Callista to dress up like a Girl Scout and lisp parliamentary procedure in his ear while being pegged with a rolled up box of Tagalongs. Let’s be honest–there’s a man with an ugly marital history. But I’m much more inclined to think he’s unfit to be president because of the horrible fiction he writes than his willingness to cheat on and then divorce his dying wife. Although it certainly sounds like the behavior of a hateful toad, none of us know the details of that particular relationship, and are therefore not in a position to pass judgment on it. We can, however, read his atrocious books. It is very easy to pass judgment on them. Squatting and forcing out coils of bad fiction is a far more dire offense in my mind, and points to a self-aggrandizing streak that is, at best, ill-befitting a man in power.
But before there’s a mass wave of rue for the various transgressed political wives, let me say that I find it both condescending and anti-feminist to view them as noble victims. Certainly, any variety of the Stiff Upper Lip perp walk and Stand by Your Man press conference is a humiliating farce that no one should have to endure, but it’s presumptuous to assume that this decade’s Scandal Twelve are a gaggle of wide-eyed cuckolds. Women who perform the role of silent partner happily swathed in a political marriage may do so for inscrutable reasons, but I imagine mostly with complete cognizance of what they are being asked. Some are co-conspirators. Others actually write the script. They may have pragmatic arrangements, be abused patsies, willing fantasists, cash cows, paid actors, or cynical beards. They may even be the engine behind the campaign, shrewd martinets of the Nancy Reagan school. Power, and the desire to be either a kitchen or a bed away from it at all times (without actually wielding any), has to have its share of corrupting and debilitating side effects. Jackie Kennedy was not nearly as innocent as she was portrayed, and Elizabeth Edwards was a lot more Lady Macbeth than her scorned/recovery narrative would indicate. Both unelected women still held sway over our lives in ways we can never quantify.
Here are the four sexual behaviors I won’t abide by in a politician, in any shade or combination: animals, children, violence, or shit. Piss is ok. In fact, I have friends who go to certain clubs on weekend nights where they linger in the bathroom stalls, waiting to “take piss” like Ford Focuses about to be topped off with sweet crude. Don’t believe me? Google Take Piss and see how many sites you find. Hey, it just so happens that being a human urinal fills these friends with joy and a sense of golden well-being. Is it my thing? Alas, no. But they find pleasure in it, and who am I to pass judgment on any generally harmless activity that delivers moments of happiness in this short and painful life? Besides, urine is mostly acidic water, and although it’s not good for them, neither are Cinnabons. We all make aesthetic and quality of life choices that may seem ridiculous to those outside our immediate circle. If any potential president, even Michele Bachmann, admitted on the campaign trail that she liked to dial up Pet Shop Boys and then gargle a little yellow, I couldn’t care less. All that matters is if she believes in evolution and/or has a plan to get us out of Afghanistan.
The fact that we demand a facade of sexual virtue from our politicians means we are always resigned to having demented, deluded, or just plain stupid representation in Washington. The only people that can consistently hurdle the chaste bar are the most damaged, self-abnegating, and sexually clotted among us. Or those possessing the requisite deviousness to never get caught, which is probably even worse. We all have pressing needs and embarrassing quirks of sexuality. We all have cheating friends, divorced friends, friends with Argentine mistresses (yes, I’m referring to Wilbur Mills’ stripper-squeeze Fanne Foxe), friends who like to dress up in skirts, friends that dig twinks. Why would a man with a fine grasp of the nuances of trade tariff imbalance be any different? Further, expecting perfection makes for lousy policy, and even lousier television. The jostling for laughs to be wrung out of Weinergate has seemed to echo particularly hollow across lo and many channels this scandal season. In the end, was Weiner’s bulge really that funny? Okay, take away his name, is it funny now? Or was it just sad? And tired. And predictable. Here is a man, presumably due to the neutering requirements of office, reduced to acting like a furtive pubescent. And then, like Mom (Andrew Breitbart) slamming open the door mid-stroke, was caught in the act! Weiner’s faux-porno dialog was summarily read aloud, laughtracked, imperiously mocked. We all smirked, made the usual self-righteous condemnations, and then moved on as if the universal absurdity of the nude form, of rutting and exclamations of lust, weren’t a deeply and gratefully hidden part of all our lives.
Then come the apologies, the press conferences, the tears, the promises of renewal and regaining trust. That segment of the Redemption Pony Show is the one which makes me the most depressed and queasy. How our national fear of sex gives us purported license to expect these freshly Scarletted Others to squirm like dogs, and claim that their natural inclinations and lifelong appetites are dirty and wrong, and promise like spanked children that somehow they will change the unchangeable, cease to desire, become abstinent and virginal and pure of thought, just for a few more years of constipated partisanship in the rotunda.
So, Weiner digs text sex. Who gives a shit? What should make us question his fitness for office is the fact that he took such incredible risks in such a stupid way. And, more importantly, that he took those risks without having ACTUAL SEX. For this sort of abuse, he should at the very least have been caught wearing butter lederhosen while up to the hilt in Rachel Uchitel. Emailing your bulge to some random blackjack dealer hardly seems worth the effort. Bill Clinton, no man of discerning appetites–but at least a reliable closer–would not have settled for writing Monica a quick text about what her chubby lips were born to do. No, at least he nearly threw away his presidency for the full enclosure. And I applaud him for it.
But I don’t want all this to be misconstrued as a call for rampant libertinism, or to intimate that a plea for no longer dissembling about sex means everyone gets a free pass to act like an asshole Tartuffe. There’s a big difference between a private expression of sexuality, regardless of whether it falls into a mean-average definition of “appropriate,” and genuinely discomfiting behavior.
The Dust’s Political Sex Scandal Breakdown and Propriety Meter
(all politicians rated on a blackball/toss up/or pass scale)
Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-former governor of California) – BLACKBALL – having a teenage child and lying about it to your wife for fifteen years is a bad look, even for a “family values” pietist. It points to an utter lack of character, and a generalized institutional shitbaggery that was apparent all along to anyone who watched 1977’s Pumping Iron. Or Kindergarten Cop. It’s truly the worst sort of hubris for a man who did not accomplish a single meaningful thing in office after leading an impeachment drive for his predecessor based on ineffectuality.
John F. Kennedy (D-former president) – TOSS UP – Marilyn? Sure, why not. What better reward for having the balls to ignoreCurtis LeMay during the Cuban missile crisis and not launch a salvo that would have destroyed half the planet. But Judith Exner? Given that she was also fucking Sam Giancana and John Rosselli at the time, both mob bosses, made for a compromising situation that one could legitimately conclude was beyond the bounds of harmless political mistressing. Jack was thinking with the wrong pillbox hat, and it probably cost the country dearly through random blackmail in ways we will never know.
Bill Clinton (D- former president) – PASS – That Paula/Monica et al shit is strictly between him and Hillary. Kenneth Starr should have to spend the next five years with all his records and personal history being poured through by prosecutors from The Anti Masturbation League, while publicly defending his fey asexuality on C-Span every Friday night.
George W. Bush (R-former president’s son) – TOSS UP – Finally, an upstanding politician who didn’t seem to have his dick in anything aside from his painfully crimped wife. On the other hand, the tradeoff is that he’s George Bush, which is hard to reconcile. I suppose if he admitted he Took Piss, I’d give W. a pass.
David Vitter (R-Sen. Louisiana) – PASS – Went to a bunch of prostitutes. Yes, prostitution is illegal, but in any reasonable society it wouldn’t be, if only because there has been prostitution since the dawn of humanity and there will be prostitution until seconds before the close of our species, and at least if it was legal it would be cleaner, safer, regulated, decriminalized, and taxed. Nah, let’s just keep allocating vast sums of tax money to the Incarceration-Judicial Complex in order to lock people in dirty holes for having the gall to want an orgasm quickly and without pretense. Back to Vitter: it’s between he and his wife and his Family Values constituency. Not to mention his unforgiving god. And the anti-bible science that came up with the penicillin to cure his clap.
John McCain (R-former presidential candidate and current angry old man) – TOSS UP – admitted to having numerous affairs, all of which are between he and his wife(s). On the other hand, introduced Sarah Palin to a grateful nation. Also, tough guy military hawk who once derided Bill Clinton for lobbing missiles at militants in Sudan by saying “Look, is this guy, Bin Laden, really the bad guy that’s been depicted? Most of us have never heard of him.” Also, Google the Keating 5.
John Edwards (D-former presidential candidate) – BLACKBALL – a weaselly, lying turd. And soon to be a convict. Pretty much the only positive outcome of the Supreme Court inexplicably taking the 2000 election away from Al Gore and handing it, like a Kennebunkport lollipop, to George Bush, is that we never had to grapple with the prospect of a Vice President Edwards.
Mark Foley (R-former Rep. Florida) – BLACKBALL – sent repeated sexually explicit texts to underage male pages. The difference between he and Weiner is that he sent these messages to people he worked with and around, they were not consensual interchanges, and they were teenagers. In some states, people get jailed for this sort of thing. Apparently in Florida they go to rehab.
Mark Sanford (R-former Gov. South Carolina) – BLACKBALL – the affair is fine, or at least no one’s business, but splitting for Argentina to dock with your longtime mistress for five days without telling your staff is not. Repeatedly crying and apologizing on camera and then declaring your poetic love in cloyingly childish language is not. Being a hardcore Family Values hypocrite who called for Bill Clinton’s impeachment while simultaneously doing your own fucking/lying/wife paltering on the side is not.
Larry Craig (R-former Sen. Idaho) – PASS – Of course, kneeling in the stalls is illegal, but you could easily make the case that importuning dudes by Gate 6 wouldn’t be necessary if he could just be quietly gay without “journalists” dying to take lurid cell phone pics of him in dark bars instead of reporting, for instance, that the planet is dying. Or that socialism is just a political theory and not an evil monster. True, Craig was yet another Family Values four-flusher and ludicrous homo-homophobe, but I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt for being confused/deluded by a lifetime of self-hatred grown from a societal pressure to deny his true sexuality.
Elliot Spitzer (D-former Gov. New York) – TOSS UP – Quietly, privately, and with his own cash paid 5k a pop to take college girls/escorts to expensive hotels. Hey, hiring an escort is one thing. But doing it while simultaneous prosecuting escort services from your post as Attorney General is another. While he was rubbing one out at The Mayflower, people were sitting in jail, at his behest, for doing the exact same thing. Sheer hypocrisy, and pretty unforgivable. This is a tough one. Definitely leans toward blackball, only slightly mitigated by his successfully prosecuting AIG for securities fraud, which no one else in either party had the balls to do.
Nickki Haley (R-Gov. South Carolina) – PASS – Thank god there’s a woman on this list! Not to mention one of the rare politicians alleged to have had an affair with a reporter. Makes me want to vote for her, except, you know, her stand on pretty much everything else.
Barack Obama (D-President) – PASS – Don’t you just love he and Michele? I do. But can you even imagine what would happen if he was caught cheating on her? Even better, if it was with a white woman? The country would explode. We might even nuke ourselves. FOX would cease broadcasting due to paroxysms of joy, and its talking heads would all be drained of their half ounce of rancid blood before being put back into cold storage. The barely contained racism that has boiled like an ugly tar just beneath the surface of this country since the day Obama was elected would then geyser up through the collective throats of Death Panel Nation, and we would all drown in it. Thank Jehovah he’s too smart for that. Keep it in your skinny jeans until you leave office, Barry.
Ultimately, Leslie, I identify neither as a Democrat or Republican. I believe in supporting positions that are the most logical, the least hypocritical, and those that–when possible–display a degree of humanity. Not all policies can contain these elements, but most bad policy can be rejected for not containing any of them. The practice of demanding that our politicians can or will act as functional neuters, and if they aren’t, should be repeatedly struck with a provincial, small-minded hammer, is truly the sign of a doomed republic. Therefore, I believe it essential that representatives from both parties get in front of a camera and proclaim:
“Yes, we have sex. We are sexual beings. We are under no obligation to adhere to anyone’s propriety. Every time I cum, I relax a little and am thus able to make better decisions. Did you vote for me because of the harmless, utterly vanilla nature of my sexual desires, or because of my ability to process great quantities of arcane information, and therefore make informed and reasonable decisions?”
Which is essentially the same as saying that few sexual behaviors are ever truly wrong, it’s just the narrative we embroider over them that fuels the degree of our arbitrary and sanctimonious affront.
But you know what Anthony Weiner has done that should make you question his courage and judgement and even posit that he is perhaps unfit to hold office, aside from being depressingly immature and not having a ombundsmen’s control over his dick?
Apologizing to Andrew Breitbart. That is truly unforgivable.
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