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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Merrie Wives of Newt

To paraphrase Molly Ivins, there are good politicians, and good human beings, and we do well to know what we want. All things being equal, sure, let's weigh in marriage history. But all things are never equal. Newt's resigning the House speakership under ethics violations seems a much better guide to his character, that and the fact that his ideas are completely nuts. Let's put a colony on the moon?
These aren't just regular celebs we’re putting through the machine, after all. Their personal lives have nothing to do with us. And that’s a hard and fast rule of mine – I will not marry any of them. And I do not waver on this. But besides that, it’s policy all the way.
I offer evidence of marriage irrelevance: George W. Bush and Barack Obama both have excellent marriages, by all accounts. So did Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter. Matters? No. JFK, FDR and  Thomas Jefferson had affairs. Reagan’s marriage to Nancy Davis began as an affair.
Problem is, it’s either a distraction or it makes us vulnerable to manipulation. Lots of people tell me they don’t vote the party, they vote the person. This is our new wave of independent voters. I’m sure some of them are independent because they’re so angry that both parties are puppets on corporate strings. But too many independent voters I’ve met don’t know the issues, and so they don’t know what the parties’ ideals are. So it’s easy to convince them – just throw a scandal on the fire.
Maybe it’s true, maybe it isn’t. Remember how Karl Rove took McCain out of the primary back when Rove was backing GW: he had flyers tucked onto churchgoers’ windshields accusing McCain of fathering a black “love child.” Turns out his child was adopted from Mother Theresa’s orphanage, but the whisper campaign worked.
And look what happened to the last candidate who talked about the poor in a meaningful way – John Edwards. He was cut up and devoured by the media machine. If voters had thought to themselves, sad story, but I’m not married to the guy, and I agree with his issues, we might have had an incredible president.
Sure, sometimes it matters: if you’re the Speaker of the House, say, and are doggedly pursuing the impeachment of a president over an affair while you’re having an affair yourself, ok, you get the boot. But let’s ante up the conversation. We didn’t end up with half the people in America riding the poverty line because someone cheated on his wife. And a marital faithfulness won’t get us where we need to go.

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