Only Enough Blood
June 17, 2011
In politics, trying to cover up some stupid, embarrassing or even unlawful behavior becomes a powerful force that will blast its way through your career faster than you can say, “I am not a crook,” “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” or “Twitter made me do it.”
For generations now, the number of politicians getting caught doing something dishonest and dumb has been growing exponentially. This has nothing to do with the state of political minds, the number of genetic or medical excuses doctors can provide, or an increased male libido that can only be tamed by risky behaviors.
The problem is that now we have to hear about it incessantly. The mainstream media, spurred on by the salacious anonymity of social media, became more obsessed with covering Rep. Weiner’s little congressman even more than he was. (Although, based on the pictures he liked to tweet and text, it seems Rep. Weiner wasn’t all that interested in covering much of anything.)
When I heard about Rep. Weiner taking a leave of absence to seek help, I tweeted, “I guess he doesn’t realize you can’t heal stupid.” The time spent by the mainstream media trying to blame Twitter and technology for Rep. Weiner’s actions, or finding experts to explain those actions, was mindboggling. He cheated on his wife with other women. He sent inappropriate pictures of himself via text and tweet to these women and, inadvertently, to the world.
Rep. Weiner doesn’t have a problem with technology or social media. He has a mental problem — as in his mental capacity is severely constrained. The comedian Robin Williams once joked, “God gave men a penis and a brain, but only enough blood to run one at a time.” Amen, brother. And we have politicians just lining up to prove this time and again.
Unfortunately, our society is so hell-bent on making ourselves feel better by watching others fall that any event like this is set upon by the media vultures who toss scraps of career carcasses our way so we can gorge ourselves.
In the movie Forrest Gump, the main character quotes his mother, saying, “Stupid is as stupid does.” Yep. Just ask Anthony Weiner, John Edwards, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kwame Kilpatrick, Bill Clinton, John Ensign, Mark Sanford, Larry Craig, Eliot Spitzer, Jim McGreevey, David Vitter and Christopher Lee. All of them were mentioned in a Detroit Free Press article recently titled, “What were they thinking?”
Perhaps the better question for the Free Press would have been, “What were we thinking?” Why do we need to waste precious little coverage of government highlighting the acts of politicians who should know better and who rarely deserve our forgiveness? Because they think it will sell newspapers and grab the attention of viewers? Unfortunately, they are right.
As the consumers of bawdry reporting, we are ultimately responsible for its continuance. Politicians have a long history of doing bad things to themselves and other people. It’s the modern era that has turned them into overnight media sensations that both titillate and disgust us.
It’s too bad we can’t turn our heads out of respect for the mighty who have fallen, their families and ourselves. Stupid is as stupid does, indeed.