Saturday, June 27, 2009

Today's Reading Assignment

...The incomparable Mark Steyn, writing at National Review, on the need to burst the "bubble" that surronds modern politicians, and--apparently--prompts some of their outrageous behavior (latest example: South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, just back from that trip to see his mistress in Buenos Aires).

A few of Steyn's gems from his essay:

The plot owed less to Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber than to one of those Fox movies of the early Forties in which some wholesome all-American type escapes the stress and strain of modern life by taking off for a quiet weekend in Latin America, and the next thing you know they’re doing the rhumba on the floor of a Rio nightclub surrounded by Carmen Miranda and 200 gay caballeros prancing around waving giant bananas. In this case, the gentlemen of the South Carolina press were the befuddled caballeros and Governor Sanford was bananas.

[snip]

Instead, we have the governor of South Carolina resorting to subterfuge worthy of one of those Mitteleuropean operettas where the Ruritanian princess disguises herself as a scullery maid to leave the castle by the back gate for an assignation with a dashing if impoverished hussar garbed as a stable lad. Perhaps some enterprising producer would like to option a Carolinian update of Prince Bob, the hit of the 1902 theatrical season in Budapest, in which the eponymous hero, a son of Queen Victoria, escapes “the bubble” of Buckingham Palace by getting out on the streets and wooing a Cockney serving wench.

And finally, Steyn offers this hilarious reminder that Americans still take a back seat to the Brits when it comes to sex scandals:

I was asked the other day about the difference between American and British sex scandals. In its heyday, Brit sex was about the action — Lord Lambton’s three-in-a-bed bi-racial sex romp; Harvey Proctor’s industrial-scale spanking of rent boys; Max Mosley’s Nazi bondage sessions, with a fine eye for historical accuracy and the orders barked out in surprisingly accurate German; Stephen Milligan’s accidental auto-erotic asphyxiation while lying on a kitchen table wearing fishnet stockings . . . With the exception of the last ill-fated foray, there was an insouciance to these remarkably specialized peccadilloes.

By contrast, American sex scandals seem to be either minor campaign-finance infractions — the cheerless half-hearted affair with an aide — or, like Governor Sanford’s pitiful tale (at least as recounted at his press conference and as confirmed by the e-mails), a glimpse of loneliness and social isolation, as if in the end all they want is the chance to be sitting at the bar telling the gal with the nice smile, “My wife, and my staffers, and my security detail, and the State House press corps, and the guy who writes my Twitter Tweet of the Day, don’t understand me.”

The cure for this sort of behavior is smaller government, Steyn writes. Part-time legislators, with limited responsibilities and lots of time outside the "fishbowl." That reminds us of an effort in Arkansas during the early 80s to further limit sessions of the General Assembly. At the time, state lawmakers met for only 30 days every two years, if we recall correctly. Reformers suggested an even more abbreviated session, say 2 days every 30 years.

They were only half-joking.

5 comments:

ppjakaJim said...

"if we recall correctly. Reformers suggested an even more abbreviated session, say 2 days every 30 years."

Ah, if only it had come true...

lgude said...

Well,if understand correctly the House just passed a climate bill (yeah, that'll work) not simply without anyone reading it, but with with parts not yet written. They have gone plumb crazy inside the bubble - that is like opening the sea cocks on the Titanic before it hit anything.

Paul_In_Houston said...

That reminds us of an effort in Arkansas during the early 80s to further limit sessions of the General Assembly. At the time, state lawmakers met for only 30 days every two years, if we recall correctly. Reformers suggested an even more abbreviated session, say 2 days every 30 years.

They were only half-joking
.

My home state of Texas has sometimes been ridiculed for only having a part-time legislature.

I believe the old boys who set that up were on the right track, and I sometimes regret that they didn't follow the thought to its' logical conclusion. :-)

Seriously, this limits the amount of damage they can do. Our predecessors were right to be leery of paying grown people to do nothing but make rules for the rest of us.

-

city said...

Two Republicans caught in sex scandals and the solution is smaller government?!? Makes about as much sense as Limbaugh claiming that Sanford's affair was Obama's fault.

El Jefe Maximo said...

I think what's going on here is people-oriented, but somewhat nerdy people (politicians) who are mostly men, become more attractive to some members of the opposite sex because they have power and celebrity -- sort of the rock star quotient. Many of them probably had to work to be interesting to women when they were younger.

At the same time, they are in circumstances (frequent travel) and meeting lots of new people that make temptation harder to resist.

At the same time, the volume of the press coverage these people get at once ensures that the cheaters are found out, and produces more of them -- because all the coverage makes them bigger and bigger "rock stars."

Like some athletes and rock stars who are destroyed because they suddenly come into big money and fame and have no clue how to handle it, maybe easier access to "unauthorized" sex is just too corrosive for these people to handle. I don't know that smaller government helps this problem much, although if there are fewer politicos, clearly you'd have absolutely fewer scandals.

A factor in exposing these people -- that is, why we hear about them as opposed to earlier periods when the same things went on - is the sheer size of the world media -- and the need to keep the monster fed with new and titillating fodder to talk about, and the fact that politics has increasingly become war without weapons.

But I think the main problem is with the individuals, and to a degree, how they deal with the sometimes sudden celebrity and power status conferred by media-driven political visibility.