Politics & Policy

Excusing Weiner, &c.

I read some remarkable things in James Taranto’s column on Wednesday. He was quoting some liberal opinion — some liberal opinion on Rep. Anthony Weiner, and “Weinergate.” Joan Walsh of Salon magazine (I think it’s a magazine) said, “This is private business.” (I remember that word from Bill Clinton: “private,” spat angrily.) Walsh went on, “You can’t accuse him of hypocrisy, he’s not a family-values moralizer.”

Nice! When she says “family-values moralizer,” I think she means someone who regards basic morality as important.

Have another dose of liberal opinion, coming from Amanda Marcotte of AlterNet:

Prior to this scandal, the media and political operatives had to at least pretend that a politician’s sex life had some bearing on the public interest before they picked up the pitchforks. Being an adulterer wasn’t, in and of itself, a matter of public interest. There had to be a hook. If you were a social conservative who advocated for using the government to control the sexual behavior of consenting adults, for instance, then you were held to your own standard and your adulteries were considered public business.

“Using the government to control the sexual behavior of consenting adults”? Do politicians “advocate for” that? Who, when? How?

More from Marcotte:

But with this Weiner scandal, there’s not even the veneer of an excuse in play. Weiner has an outstanding record supporting sexual rights of others, with 100% ratings from NARAL and Planned Parenthood, and has a strong record of support for gay rights.

“Sexual rights of others” — abortion? Abortion is a sexual right? There are a great many who regard abortion as a form of birth control. Is that the tie — the tie between abortion and sexual rights?

One more dose from Marcotte (whose column — the one I’m quoting — is here):

The entire rationale for the scandal is that Weiner isn’t living in accordance with strict social mores regarding monogamy, and that’s it.

That phrase says a whole lot: “strict social mores regarding monogamy.” We used to know this as “being faithful to your wife,” “being faithful to your husband,” “obeying the Commandments,” etc. Outdated, Neanderthal stuff.

I wonder whether Democrats, or “progressives,” are comfortable with this double standard: It doesn’t matter what they do, because they are beyond this Judeo-Christian BS. But it matters what Republicans do, because they insist on clinging to the old myths and hang-ups.

Absorbing opinion from the left, a person may ask, “Who can expect a liberal Democrat to abide by ‘strict social mores regarding monogamy’?” Are there liberal Democrats out there who are insulted by that question? I hope so, and know so (I think).

But there is no question that a double standard prevails. I’m not sure “double standard” is the right term. In any case, let me illustrate what I mean.

Back in the late ’90s, people like me said a million times, “If a conservative Republican were in Bill Clinton’s position, he’d be gone in a second.” The press would have been eager to bring him down, yes. The Democratic party would have, too. But the eagerest of all would have been conservative Republicans. We would have been at the White House gates, baying for the guy to leave. For one thing, we would have regarded his continuation in office as a stain on us all. We would have considered it incumbent on ourselves to get rid of him — to take the lead in doing so.

And I noted in my Wednesday column the difference between ex-congressman Chris Lee and still-congressman Anthony Weiner. Each had a “social media” scandal. Lee’s wrongdoing and his resignation were reported at basically the same time. Weiner simply lied for as long as he could — pointing the finger at others all the while — then hunkered down.

Anyway, you know all this — I’m just sayin’ . . .

‐Remember that incredibly dramatic moment on Impeachment Day, December 19, 1998? The Speaker-designate, Bob Livingston, was urging the president to resign. Pounding her desk, Maxine Waters screamed, “You resign! You resign!” Livingston held up his hand, asking for quiet — and announced his resignation.

One of the most majestic things I have ever seen in politics . . .

‐Here’s something funny: Representative Livingston was succeeded by one David Vitter. Something in the water — something in the crawfish etouffée — down in Louisiana? No, it’s universal . . .

‐I have a question about Weiner — not so much a theory (though it might sound like that) as a question: Do you remember when he went stark-raving nuts on the floor of the House last summer? (If you can endure it, the video is here.) Some pictures we have seen cause me to ask: ’roid rage?

‐I believe the below may be the most American story I have ever read — a story brilliantly expressive of present-day America. Behold:

Three bisexual men have filed a federal lawsuit against a national gay-sports organization, claiming they were unfairly deemed not gay enough to play for a gay softball team during the Gay Softball World Series. . . .

According to the lawsuit, the three California men were on a softball team called D2 that advanced to the championship game in Seattle. During the game, play was stopped several times after the team that lost to them in the semifinals protested that D2 was in violation of a league rule permitting no more than “two heterosexual players” on a team.

Is that The Most American Story Ever Told, or what? It has nearly everything: quotas, grievance, “identity politics,” lawsuits. It has everything but race, but close enough . . . (Oh, it could have a speech code, too.) (For the entire news article, go here.)

This is quite beautifully American — seriously: Sukanya Roy is “the fourth consecutive Indian-American to win the bee,” meaning, the National Spelling Bee. But Sukanya is more than an Indian American: She is a “Pa. girl,” as the headline says.

‐Better Sukanya Roy than Arundhati Roy (beautiful as she is). (Even when she has shaven her head, in protest.)

‐A friend of mine had on an unusual T-shirt the other night. It showed a Star of David and the words “Six Days, B*tch.” (I’ve thrown in the asterisk.) My friend said it was his personal acknowledgement of the Six-Day War on its 44th anniversary.

I then recalled a column written by George Will, many years ago. I will paraphrase it (because it goes a certain way in my memory, and I would not want to spoil it by looking it up). (Very journalistic, I know.)

For 20 years, Israel was admired as “the Athens of the Middle East”: a little outpost of Western civilization in the desert. A nation of scholars, poets, farmers, and spiritual types. Oh, how the world loved that Israel. But then, in June 1967, Sparta stood up.

That Israel, the world didn’t love so much. Now, Israel never asked to be Sparta. It would have greatly preferred to be Athens (or, hell, Jerusalem). But its neighbors forced it into Spartahood. So . . .

‐Perusing the website of the Daily Telegraph, I came across this, in a blog:

Where liberals were often scathing in their attacks on former mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s intemperate policing of Central Park and late-night bars and strip joints, they have raised barely a peep about Bloomberg’s policing of lifestyle.

Rudy, have I thanked you lately for that “intemperate policing” — the commonsensical and necessary policies that returned New York to civilization, rescuing it from barbarism? Thank you, thank you, infinitely.

(The blogpost to which I refer is here.)

‐Care for some news out of China? Me neither, but have some anyway: “A blogger from Chongqing has been sent to a labour camp for posting a political joke on the municipality’s ambitious Communist party chief on his microblog.” Oh, I bet.

Why did the blogger do that? If he lives, someone should ask him. Beijing is not in a lenient mood. It has “disappeared” one of the country’s best-known artists, Ai Weiwei — a man who recently had a big exhibition in London. It imprisons the current Nobel peace laureate.

What can it not do? It rules, it disappears, it tortures, it murders, with impunity. China’s strongmen will get nothing but kisses from the United States and the rest of the Free World.

Take a little more news: “Over two dozen Falun Gong practitioners have died due to abuse in custody since January 1, 2011.” Those are only the reported cases, mind you. And, oh, do they die in terrible ways, these practitioners. To be tortured to death — not exactly slipping off while snoozing in the hammock . . .

Never mind, back to kissing ChiCom butt.

‐Care for some music? (“Give me some music,” Cleopatra sings in the Barber opera.) (No, not The Barber of Seville — Samuel Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra.) In a recent piece — two of them, actually — I wrote about Sofia Gubaidulina, a contemporary Russian composer. A friend of mine, a distinguished music scholar, said, “In all seriousness, I think you could argue that Gubaidulina — whatever you think of her, even if it isn’t much — is the best female composer ever.”

Hmmm. Hildegard (of Bingen). Clara Schumann. Chaminade. Amy Beach (formerly known as “Mrs. H. H. A. Beach,” which I loved). The list ain’t long. (It gets longer in the last 30 years or so — Joan Tower, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, etc.)

Yeah, you could make a case.

‐A while back, I was talking about middle initials, in some column or blogpost, or both. I think I mentioned that the “S.” in “Harry S. Truman” doesn’t stand for anything. Let me quote from the all-knowing Wikipedia (which, in its Truman entry, draws on the McCullough biography and other sources):

His parents chose “S” as his “middle name” in an attempt to please both of Harry’s grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young. The initial did not actually stand for anything, a common practice among the Scots-Irish.

Okay, I just loved this e-mail, from a reader: “My folks argued over Mitchell vs. Montgomery. Consequently, the short-tempered nurse gave me my middle name: M.”

‐Around this same period, we were doing some early American names — some Pilgrim names, some Puritan names. One of them was “Experience Bliss.” A reader now writes, “My family too has old New England roots, but we did not experience bliss. We had Thankful Clapp. She married Rev. Ebenezer Stearns.”

Thankful Clapp — remarkable.

‐Finally, see what you think of this: “I work occasionally with a wardrobe lady named Winsome McCoy.”

Beautiful. Catch you soon.




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