Thursday, August 12, 2004

It's Just Sex

Anyone who has been divorced, watched a divorce, or divorced someone knows it is one of the most painful experiences this side of losing someone to death. It is a kind of death. People will do and say the most incredibly hurtful and stupid things to anyone and everyone particularly if they can't say it to the now insignificant other. The social problem is that while most of us have sympathy, it is a local problem and it tends to distract all about them onto the spilt milk of a relationship gone bad when it is possible that there are other more important things to be done.

American politics have looked like a divorce in process since 1992 when the Republicans were shocked to discover that the love affair with the Reagan aministration didn't translate to George Herbert Walker Bush. It wasn't that Bush wasn't a good guy or a decent President. He was the perfect Washington wonk, a credible authority, and fine war time President. This man had punched all the tickets from Yale to the CIA, had made a personal fortune doing it, and served his country with distinction. No, it was simply the Americans are also mammals and mammals have a wandering eye. They don't like boredom and when it is time for a change, the facts don't matter.

For the ultra-religious right, which is not to say the spriritual right, but the real power-obsessed-we-are-the-rightful-reagan-inheritors, the defeat of George H.W. Bush was an obscenity of the first order. With the same crusader mentality that lead them to declare an unwinnable war on drugs with a slogan that made even the drug dealers laugh, they went to work on the American psyche like a graphics card salesman at Siggraph. It wasn't enough to make their viewpoints known; they had to show that all other viewpoints were despicable.

So began the evisceration of the Clintons.

I won't dwell on that carnival of abuse of power, conceit, and outright treachery, aka, the politics of personal destruction, because, well, Bill Clinton is out of office. He has served his two terms and he's not coming back, at least, as holder of the Oval office. He's making money now, his wife has a solid day job, and his only child is off to the races of life. Bill's enjoying himself. So much for personal destruction.

The problem is in the Beltway and the pundit pulpits. Some in the current administration act and speak as if they were still running against him, and in that, they resemble a divorced spouse who just can't get over it and get on with it. The problem is that this behavior is distinctly painful for their friends and their causes. So be it. No one can save an incompetent politician. Who says that? Former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich says that and he ought to know.

The problem we all have to face is there in the 9/11 Commission Report on page 105: "the oversight function of the Congress has diminished over time. In recent years, traditional review of the administration of programs and the implementation of laws has been replaced by a 'focus on personal investigations, possible scandals, and issues designed to generate media attention.' The unglamorous but essential work of oversight has been neglected..."

Newt is a sharp guy and despite his party or the left's loathing, his testimony before the government committees has value. He correctly assesses the job before them today as the most important work of their lifetimes, much less their careers, and the most difficult they will ever undertake. Right on, Newt.

It it time to turn off Fox Network, time to quit listening to Rush, to Hannity and Whosis, to the spin doctors of right wing politics. It is time to turn on C-Span and watch the hearings. Dull as they are, the most important decisions made since America became a Federation are being made. This isn't about the election although it plays a major role in it. This is about how we will govern ourselves, what our freedoms are or will be in the face of a stateless and determined foe, and at the bottom of it, whether we are a nation of mature and responsible adults or just kids squabbling over the end of our first marriage and who gets the Bruce Springsteen CDs.

We blew it. We watched a soap opera instead of the store and as a result, we took a brutal blow to the head from a street gang. Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky may have been sordid in some opinions, but at the end of the day, it was just sex and sex is what being a mammal is all about. Consensual sex isn't something to be made a topic of national debate, and certainly, it isn't the object of Congressional oversight. There is real work to be done.


Joshua Allen said...

Well, for example, I agree that the McGreevy thing is a waste of time. Personal destruction is a waste of time and energy.

However, the problem of focusing too much on sex and too little on the real issues is at least as much a problem of democrats as republicans. For starters, Clinton was accused of being too preoccupied with his extramarital affair to deal effectively with the multiple terrorist attacks against the U.S. during his term. And a real fear of conservatives is that democrats tend to get preoccupied with sexually-charged social issues such as boosting gay marriage, partial-birth abortion, etc. rather than national security. It wasn't Republicans who turned the McGreevy thing into a "gay rights" issue (instead of corruption) and filled NYT front page with analysis of the various facets of "coming out". People "come out" every day, and nobody really cares anymore, so one has to wonder at the virtual orgy of "after-school special" style media coverage. Why make a big deal out of this when we have so many other things to focus on? All of the sanctimonious preaching about other people's sexuality can be tolerated as long as it's not at the expense of real work; but as you say we have real work to do.

len said...

In fact, we might want to discuss the value of our values in situations. There is an analysis approach called value focused thinking that can be used to reveal when, where and why some kinds of ostensibly collaborative processes will not converge on a consensus, so in effect, the leader must hear all sides and ultimately make the decision at hand.

This is why we have separation of church and state, why some believe that they can use this to drive voters, and why we will never make our approach to governing work in societies who do not have the same values. Note that there are implications that are not comfortable in this, for example, is a society based on individual freedom of choice more or less criminal?

Anonymous said...

Damn, I like girls..

Comment Policy

If you don't sign it, I won't post it. To quote an ancient source: "All your private property is target for your enemy. And your enemy is me."