Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The Posts I Didn't Want To Write. On Weiner. Part III: Political Analysis

(This is going to be the weakest of the posts, mostly because I have so little patience with politics as games and warfare. The comments are there for a purpose, such as to fill in the holes I leave.)

Several angles again: First, there is the question what Weiner's acts (however they are interpreted) mean for the Democratic Party in its attempt to restrain the Republican political moves towards a world combined with income-based feudalism for a few and anarchism for the rest, except for the smattering of fundamental churches to keep that anarchy from hurting the lords and ladies on the top. Well, assuming that the Democratic Party wants to slow down our travels in that direction.

The news on this are bad. We now talk about Representative Weiner, not about the Bryan budget or the general attempt to drown the government (and most Americans) in a bathtub. Weiner might be thrown overboard, and the real reason is that he truly acted in the most stupid imaginable manner. He knew how the American media are. He knew how the Republicans are. He must have known that nothing on the Intertubes is really private. In short, he hurt his team.*

The second angle to this question is the old IOKIYAR: It's OK If You Are A Republican. This means that we compare cases across the political aisle to see if the treatment of those cases is neutral or not. An example of a different treatment:
Meanwhile, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has vocally called for Weiner’s resignation.


Fox News host Greta Van Susteren asked Priebus about this double standard last night, but Priebus refused to address it and Van Susteren, not surprisingly, allowed him to evade the question:
VAN SUSTEREN: Is there a difference with Senator David Vitter, I mean, with the whole — with his whole little prostitution — he’s on a prostitution client list. Is that different?
PRIEBUS: Well, I don’t know if it’s different.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, nobody called –
PRIEBUS: Frankly, I’m not relitigating the David Vitter situation.

Vitter was not made to resign. Note also that the Vitter case was objectively worse:
The Louisiana Republican senator faced an ethics complaint in 2007 after turning up in the phone records of a prostitution ring. The statute of limitations had passed, so he faced no criminal charges. He was re-elected in 2010.
The Republicans may have changed their willingness to support politicians like Vitter, who knows. But that does not remove the hypocrisy factor: Conservative "family values" (hah) politicians should walk their talk because they insist that others do.

The third angle to this topic is the trickiest one. Why is it that certain types of behavior elicit this response and other types of behavior do not? For instance, a politician can clearly carry water for one industry and get re-elected over and over, by voters who are hurt by the acts of that industry. And if these kinds of scandals are all about the conservative type "family values", why is Newt Gingrich, with his terrible record of disposable wives running for president?

Or in other words, what should be private in the lives of politicians and what should not be? What is it we think we learn from these cases (when they are not about a crime, breaking the law in general, misusing public funds or hypocrisy)?
*He was obviously an utter, utter asshat to his wife. But that has not disqualified Gingrich, for example.