Friday, July 26, 2013

Sexting, Lies and Videotape Meets All the Potential Presidents Men?

After listening to the political quagmire (yes those who wish to use the Family Guy® reference can feel free to go there!) regarding the recent scandals in New York City politics, I think that New Yorkers (and Americans) are getting a bit bogged down in the minutia and forgetting the real issue. Regardless of our political stripe, citizens, politicians and pundits are being so sidetracked by the promiscuous exhibitionist behaviors happening all around us to the point where we keep communally forgetting which behaviors are illegal and which are merely unseemly, sordid and even contemptible, but not against the law.

Former Congressman and would-be NY City Mayor Anthony Weiner obviously should consider some serious psychotherapy. He ought to also consider getting a press team who is capable of coping with massive hubris and persuading him when he should truly stop speaking; (particularly if he intends to keep running for office). Regardless, as his dramedy continues on multiple channels, try to remember that Weinergate was not about the sexting, it was not (and still is not) about bawdy electronic images. Rather, it was (and is) about holding a press conference and lying to constituents about his Twitter account being hacked.  Weiner said so himself: "I have not been honest with myself, my family, my constituents, my friends and supporters, and the media” and; "to be clear, the picture was of me, and I sent it." This was the only conceivably unlawful act, not the sex.

Former New York Governor and potential Comptroller Elliot Spitzer was not under investigation for promiscuity, but for political corruption. Let’s be clear. In 2008, Spitzer was heard on a federal wiretap scheduling a rendezvous with a high-priced (even if slightly hayseed) prostitute at a Washington, D.C., hotel. No matter how a defense attorney pitches it. We are talking money laundering of up to $70,000 and significantly breaking the law in ways that a less politically connected man would likely have been convicted and possibly even incarcerated.  Just ask his prostitute's New York madam, Kristin M. Davis, who was incarcerated for four months for being the prostitute’s "DC Madam” and who ironically is now running against Spitzer as the Libertarian party’s candidate for Comptroller, (go figure!)

When we look at the public’s failure to consider reproaching these men and instead see politicians being rewarded for their misconduct, how can Americans be shocked when politicians begin to feel like gods entitled to forgiveness rather than mere mortals unsure if they deserve it? Does everyone deserve a second chance after a short time even when unrepentant?  If they go by Governor Mark Sanford as an example, who after he abandoned his post and misappropriated state monies for his own personal use was publicly permitted (despite his actions being illegal) to run for office again and convinced South Carolinians to elect him to a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. So it’s not all that surprising that Weiner and Spitzer believe they can pull off the same type of thing in New York. Constituents should still bear in mind however, that whatever else the activities of these candidates and government officials may have been, they were also illegal.

Journalists and pundits also keep adding Former President Clinton into the equation.  Multiple media have used a split screen with Huma Abedin on one side looking forlorn; and ancient footage of Hillary Clinton on the other side, standing (sitting actually), by her man like Tammy Wynette despite her denial: “I'm sitting here because I love him and I respect him, and I honor what he's been through, and what we've been through together, and you know if that's not enough for people then heck, don't vote for him!”

Let’s be clear. President Clinton committed an illegal act. He did this, not by having his employee Monica Lewinsky go under a desk for extracurricular activities; but for lying about the existence of the affair during a sworn deposition.  It does not matter that a JD might be able to argue his way out of it. It is still illegal.  If President Clinton had chosen to have the wherewithal to simply state, “Yes I had sex with that woman and I am working through this with my spouse”; he would have been unimpeachable, period.

Had the internet been anywhere near the arena it is now, I doubt Bill would have survived. Shows like Dr. Phil® and Judge Judy® or even American Idol® seem like a charitable picnic compared to the potential humiliation that Linda Tripp could have brought about in an internet age.  Hillary and Huma Abedin may want to consider co-authoring a book to address the fine line between standing by your man and allowing your own prestigious career to be obliterated (or at a minimum considerably compromised) for the potential political power their husbands may (or may not) achieve.

The motivations of any political figures; From Bill Clinton, Anthony Weiner, Eric Massa, Eliot Spitzer, David Vitter, Christopher Lee, John Edwards, John Ensign, Larry Craig, Bob Filner (and whoever should turn up next); are generally impossible to really put a finger on (metaphorically of course!)  Nonetheless, I sincerely doubt that any of the women involved from the spouses, the mistresses, the call girls, or the sexting  partners; to the incidental women who needed to explain sexual harassment to a groping boss. I doubt that any of them ever intended for local state and/or  federal politicians with x and y chromosomes to actually internalize that they somehow received sanction or approval.  Perhaps, Americans should encourage their political figures to consider giving up the public exposure of their personal lives and/or their genitalia and move toward pleasuring themselves in private (ideally while not photographing themselves for posterity and sending those images throughout the social media galaxy while expecting no one to find out). This might be a better alternative to simply feeling confident that Americans don’t care if they break laws, sexually harass a rear-admiral, sleep around, dump their wives while they undergo chemotherapy, etc.

Ah well, regardless of their activities and the media covering them, just remember the real issue. It is irrelevant whether any of these politicians’ acts are immoral. Lying about the acts under oath is illegal. So ultimately, it is not the hiking the Appalachian Trail, its being AWOL from your post. It’s not the affair with an intern but denying it on the record. It is not publically playing with a sexting buddy. It is lying under oath and/or in a press conference on the record, that is the removable, terminable and yes, impeachable offense—not the sex.