By Don Klein
David Vitter is a United States senator and a habitue of brothels in Washington and Louisiana. The Republicans think so highly of him that they ran a special get-together in a lobbyist’s fancy D.C. home recently to raise funds for his political future. The well-attended affair raised a minimum of $2,500 per guest.
At the same time this was happening Republican House Leader Eric Cantor and Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus declared that Representative Anthony Weiner, a Democrat, was unfit for service in the Congress because of his propensity to send lewd pictures of himself to women via Twitter.
This is not just the height of hypocrisy, it is circus ludicrous. I compare this to a visit to the zoo where irate monkeys fling defecation at visitors after a session with keepers discussing how best to behave in mixed company. You just cannot talk to primates and expect them to understand English. The same is true of Republicans.
That is only one aspect of the tragedy involved in the Weiner case. Congressional hypocrisy is no more shocking than waking up in the morning and discovering yourself in a bed. The other, and more important calamity here is the loss of another intoxicating voice in support of liberal causes.
We have all the fools any unsophisticated society would want on the Republican side. We have Sarah Palin, whose latest retelling of American history sounds more like an Abbott and Costello routine. They were hilarious, she is incredulous. When she talks about history – or anything significant – it reminds me of the “Who’s on First” skit.
I was going to start a litany of all the Republican scoundrels who made it to Congress, starting with those brazen-faced adulterers Newt Gingrich, currently running for president, and John Ensign who resigned minutes before be was to be expelled from the Senate for circumstances related to his unabashed and unethical relationship with a married woman who worked for him.
But I’d rather stick with Weiner because his aberration seems to be more of a loss to the country. We can do without Palin, Gingrich, Vitter and Ensign. Their value to the country, other than as comic relief, is at the bottom of the laugh meter. Not so with Weiner, a politician who seemed to have much to offer the country.
He was an outspoken champion of the little guy. He supported medical health for everyone, battled hardheaded opponents who tried to drown out liberal thought in the country. He was a bright man with a bright future. Now, thanks to his sophomoric need to expose himself to unknown women, he will never again be taken seriously, even if he decides not to resign from Congress.
Here was what seemed to be a brilliant political force who turned out to be just one more of the guys who used celebrity for no good. The public Hall of Shame is long and will get longer as the years go by. The result is the country will suffer for it. Just look at a quick list of public figures who talk like ethereal messengers of good but behave like dogs in heat with total lack of respect for themselves, their families and the public.
You have to lead every list of this sort with former President Bill Clinton and former Senator John Edwards, If only it could end there. Then there is Rep. Mark Foley, Gov. Arnold Schwartzenegger, Gov. Mark Sanford, Gov. James McGreevey, Rep. Bob Livingston, Sen. Larry Craig, Gov. Eliot Spitzer and if we really want to dig deep into the past, there was JFK and FDR.
None of these men would ever be voted husband of the year, yet they were all elected by a gullible public that believed in great men, or in some cases, just men of stature. I have not listed here the public figures who went to jail for non-sexual crimes against the people. Power often leads to shame. Man is an eternal enigma.
Back to the current circumstances. For one we have a whoremonger being feted by his Republican colleagues while at the same time we have a Democrat unable to get anyone on either side of the Congressional aisle to speak up for him. And he, in most people’s minds, was the perpetrator of the lesser evil.
I don’t excuse Weiner for his outlandish behavior. He is a sick man and should get treatment, but I feel he fits in perfectly with the reprobates of Congress. In our democracy we leave it to the electorate to decide who they want to represent them and if they choose to reelect Weiner because of his faithfulness to liberal cause, that is their choice.
If the people of Louisiana can burden the nation for another six years with a man of Vitter’s low motivations by reelecting him despite his proclivities for prostitutes, so be it. But the damage is done. No one will take Vitter seriously in the future, as if there was much of a chance for that anyway, and no one in the future will take Weiner seriously either. His personal compulsion has muted his strident political voice.
That’s what you harvest once you have lost credibility and respect. It is a lesson for all of us, especially those who intend to seek public office in the future.