Let’s stop acting like we’re too morally pure to tolerate a sexting fetishist in Congress. Though some great Americans serve in government, an assortment of perverts, cads and garden-variety losers comprise our political class.
The boundaries of tolerance for bad behavior were defined nicely in 1983 by four-term Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards, today a convicted felon, who feared political demise only if caught sleeping with “a dead girl or a live boy.”
Which brings us to a political scandal for the ages. There was a member of Congress who did something with a woman other than his pregnant wife — something a bit more harmful than texting anatomical snapshots. He took the woman to a party while his wife obeyed a doctor’s order for bed rest. Leaving the party with the woman, the politician drove his car off of a bridge and into a pond. The politician was an expert swimmer and he saved himself. He did not save the passenger.
The politician went about his life, failing to report the submerged woman. A rescue diver found the woman in an air pocket of the car, late the next morning, and said she could have survived if the politician had only called police.
The world quickly learned that U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy had left Mary Jo Kopechne to die as his pregnant wife slept at home. Kennedy’s wife miscarried, blaming the stress caused by her husband’s scandal. Kennedy’s political career survived and thrived; he died a patriarch of his party.
U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, a New York Democrat cursed by his name and a dearth of other news, is pressured to resign by leaders of his own party — including President Barack Obama. Weiner sent lewd texts. He is a slimy fellow, but he hurt or killed no one. The scandal has no victim.
This is not to defend Weiner, but to suggest that we get honest about our politicians. Few are leaders. Many comport themselves with less class than the commoners who elect them. We marinate in the evidence: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love child; Bill Clinton’s intern; Newt Gingrich and his extramarital affair; the former South Carolina governor’s extramarital affair; the former New York governor’s extramarital affair with a hooker; The former New Jersey governor’s extramarital affair with a same-sex lover; the Florida congressman’s sexting to pages; Former Sen. Larry Craig’s lewd behavior in a restroom; former Rep. Dan Crane’s sexual tryst with a girl page; former Sen. Gerry Studds’ sexual tryst with a boy page; John F. Kennedy’s mistresses; and down the line back to our founding.
We tolerate politicians who have brought harm and death to their victims. We have honored the late Sen. Robert Byrd — a man who advocated harm to minorities by organizing and leading a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. Yet we look to this class of people as leadership and expect them to give us better lives. We should not elect them to lead us, but to serve us by protecting our freedom to pursue greatness.
Let us not pretend as if our expectations are too high for a sexting fetishist. Our standards are much lower than that.