I just got back to regular internet access, and I find out the oh-so important piece of information that John Edwards couldn't keep his rocket in his pocket. Oh my.
I can't even begin to imagine why the 24 hours and pundit class thinks that this is an issue at all. Edwards isn't working in politics right now, there's almost no chance, even before now, that he would have been the VP nominee, and his ability to live up to someone else's standard of fidelity doesn't reflect on his leadership ability whatsoever. If adherence to monogamy actually showed something about leadership ability, then George W. Bush would be universally understood as one of the best presidents the US has seen in a while.
It can be tempting in the queer community to laugh along with everyone else when these pols don't live up to what panned out a long time ago to be an impossible standard of sexual restriction, but it's not going to help us any. Reifying a sexual morality tied to nothing besides "ZOMG did you hear about how he wuz cheetin on his wife!!???!" won't work out in favor of the LGBT community, even if we're often frustrated when sexual morality with about as much to back it gets thrown in our direction. Sexuality, relationships, and the psyche are all complicated enough that we can pretty flatly say we don't know enough to judge anyone here.
These sorts of situations are inevitable for humans, and, no matter what, I'd much rather be governed by humans than any alternative I can think of.
Nothing annoys me more than the propensity to get all excited and giggle over rich and famous people behaving badly, but our media do it over and over again. They breathlessly report one scandalicious detail after another, occasionally reminding us why this might be important (character! lying! hypocrisy!), and then go right back to the sexy sexy sexiness.
It's not at all like reporting every detail of the Madonna/A-Rod affair, you see, because John Edwards was at one point a candidate for president. Sure, he lost after a crushing defeat, and he has no plans to get back into politics, but did you hear that he lied to the media, as if he thought this would destroy his life? Did you hear that he might have made a love-baby with his lady? Can you believe that they all met up in the Beverly Hilton? I'm glad someone staked that out - it's such a great use of investigative journalism!
Ask yourself, does this sound more like the paper of record or what got rejected from a Leno monologue?
But the Breck Girl wants a gold star for the fact that he sent his marriage into remission when his wife was in remission. That's special.
In his statement, he bleats: "You cannot beat me up more than I have already beaten up myself. I have been stripped bare." Isn't stripping bare how he got into this mess?
It isn't like we didn't know that the son of a millworker was a little enraptured by himself, radiating self-love from his smile and his man-in-a-hurry airs and the notorious $800 bill for a pair of haircuts and his two-minute YouTube hair primping to the tune of "I Feel Pretty." [...]
Back in 2002, Edwards sent me a Ken doll dressed in bathing trunks, Rio de Janeiro Ken, with a teasing note, because he didn't like my reference to him as a Ken doll in a column.
In retrospect, the comparison was not fair -- to Ken.
But, hey, she's at least talking about people who were at one point working in politics, so she can make all the dumb jokes she wants. It's a serious discussion of politics.
A few years ago I was backpacking in the south of France with an American woman who I didn't know very well who loved celeb gossip news. She was always picking up the latest tabloid, excusing herself by saying that it would help her learn French. She would, every now and then, recount a story from the magazine, and I'd nod along, wondering why she cared about the sex lives of people she never even met.
We discussed it further, and she said that, fundamentally, these people (like Paris Hilton) lead interesting lives. I said I disagreed, and she said, "Well, it's basically like politics. Except more fun."
It was time to change the subject since the idea that the way government functions, the people we choose to enact policy that will materially improve or hurt our lives, and what they say and do in the process to earn our respect, that process being compared to paparazzi trying to get the best picture of Britney Spears's vagina seemed to me like she just didn't get it and was never going to.
That was then, and the more I read from traditional media about these scandals, the more I see them asking for the smelling salts because politicians don't always live up to Norman Rockwell's image of American life, the more it becomes apparent that our media outlets simply don't care about politics and are looking for anything to distract them from policy. And it seems like we're just going to have to ride it out, because they think that this is real journalism (from the NY Times' public editor):
I would not have published the allegation of a McCain affair, because The Times did not convincingly establish its truth. I would not have recycled the National Enquirer story, either. But I think it was a mistake for Times editors to turn up their noses and not pursue it. "There was a tendency, fair or not, to dismiss what you read in the National Enquirer," Keller said. "I know they are sometimes right." When the Enquirer published its first "love child" report, The Times was going energetically after the McCain story. It should have pursued the other story as well.
So if a newspaper doesn't hold the effin' Enquirer up as a standard of journalistic excellence, then they're too elitist to appeal to the average American? Do they think America's that lame?
Well, I'm guessing they do. This might be a side effect of the media all going public so they have to keep huge profit margins for investors. Or maybe political journalists and commentators are just so empty that they think that picking away at the details of the sex life of a former politician is more important than picking apart the details of Bush's case for war with Iraq several years ago.
Or maybe I'm just too elitist to sit down and have a beer with a Real American. I'll add Perez Hilton to my RSS feed so that, next time around, I get it.