Friday, January 20, 2012


Silly season is in full bloom. I know this always happens in an election year, yet I am always surprised by it. I guess that's just the way Americans like it, although this American is not terribly thrilled by it. I don't like the politics of destruction. Perhaps that's a function of age.

What specifically is gnawing on my last nerve today is the uproar over Newt Gingrich's marital infidelities. Trust me: I am not a fan of this man. His conduct over the years he's been in politics has left me cold, jaded, and more than a little nauseous. Still, I really don't want nor need specific details on his private life, just as I don't want or need his prying into my private life. Therein, I admit, lies a paradox which in a way justifies the current uproar in the GOP campaign for the presidential nomination.

Perhaps Atrios put it best yesterday in his post entitled "Newtered":

I'd like to say it's none of our goddamn business, but Newt made sure that this stuff will be our business for a long long time.

Atrios was referring, of course, to Gingrich's role in the impeachment of President Clinton for getting some extra marital sex in the White House. Ironically, although perhaps not, Gingrich was engaged in a little adultery himself at the same time. And, certainly, karmic justice does seem to be playing out, a sort of "as you sow, so shall you reap" from the universe.

A slight spin on this approach is a bit less vengeful. It points to the hypocrisy of Gingrich and his conservative supporters when it comes to moral matters. Such is the stance taken by the editorial board of the New York Times today:

Multiple marriages and even adultery are not automatic disqualifications for the presidency. If they were, the country would have a very different roster of former presidents and candidates. But when a political party decides that moralizing about personal conduct is as important as public policy, it inevitably makes some of its leaders vulnerable to the worst charges of hypocrisy.

In this political cycle, it is Newt Gingrich who has been unable to escape the toxic combination of infidelity and sermonizing. The stories about his three marriages have been known for years, but every time he seems to have escaped the wrath of Republican voters, they rise again.
[Emphasis added]

It is that last sentence which perhaps is rubbing my last nerve raw: the timing of the issue. We've seen how the media has treated each of the rising stars on the campaign trail. Herman Cain's momentum, for example, was stopped cold by allegations of sexual harassment. It's as if the pundits and wonks can't stand seeing someone doing well on the campaign trail without taking him/her down a peg or two. Even Mitt Romney has received a little of that focus, albeit non-sexual in nature, as details about Bain and about his religion just emerge from the mists of time.

I am not saying that past behavior should be ignored by the media. It is important for voters to know about the candidate and past conduct is fair game, but are all these "revelations" really necessary? Especially just a few days before the vote?

I swear, all of this makes me want to go out and shout at the clouds.

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Blogger Charles said...

If one considers the media to be the visible face of corporate interests, then it becomes clear that various factions within the corporate right are jockeying for power. I tend to agree with Gingrich that ABC is engaging in a questionable practices by airing their special just before the primary. I'll also be interested to hear their responses to Gingrich's accusation that other people know that Marianne's allegations are false (how does a third party know that someone isn't having an affair?)

But I would also say that ABC is not a journalistic enterprise. It is a financial enterprise, whose goal is to elect a candidate compatible with its interest.

In my post on Ron Paul (thanks very much for the promo on Eschaton, BTW) I arbitrarily divided the corporate right into the financial right and the domestic corporate right. There are many ways to view it, but the point is that corporations are not monolithic. If you run a chain of American restaurants, the prospect of declining American incomes is a bad thing. If you are an exporter, it's a good thing. Very likely, ABC's parent corporation (Disney) believes that Romney would be better for business than Gingrich (Disney employees tend to donate to Democrats, it should be said).

Shouting at clouds sounds like a lot of fun. I might do some of that myself.

3:56 PM  

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