On A Congressman’s Bad Behavior and the Image of Congress

One can’t bring shame to a shameless institution


This blog has never taken a position on the many meandering sexual mores of our politicians. This post will not be an exception to that rule. As far as this blog is concerned, the sex lives of politicians are private matters even under the unfortunate circumstances when sexual impropriety enters the public spotlight. Even if they lie. Even if they try to cover it up. Even if they are hypocritical over it. So long as the sex is consensual and does not constitute a conflict of interest then it is a matter between the politician, the spouse, the lover, escort service, the guy in the next stall, and/or any other direct actor who may or may not have shared space and/or bodily fluids. That is the policy of the Journal of a Mad Sociologist and will remain the policy so long as glass houses exist.

After all, if a history on bad penile decisions (BPDs) made by people in authority was written no shelf could support its weight. If there is a locus of bad decisions with more gravity than sex, I’d like to know what it is. Few are the men I know who, when a discussion of BPDs comes up, are at a loss for stories. This writer is no exception. And how many such BPDs are covered up with lies and denials. This is not specific to Anthony Weiner or John Ensign or David Vitter. So should Anthony Weiner resign? Has he lost the public trust? These are questions best left to his constituents and to the Democratic Party as an institution. This journal has no position on the topic.

When these peccadillos come to light, the political posturing and gamesmanship is on. Of course the Republicans want Weiner to resign. They want all Democrats to resign, just as all Democrats want Republicans to resign and will respond accordingly when a member of that party slips into the sexual abyss. Some are able to weather the political fire-storm, a la Ted Kennedy, a la Barney Frank. In the meantime, however, the opposing party will descend like jackals on the fallen. All’s the better if it is a politician with a reputation for high moral standards and deep “family values.” SCORE! That is the game, and every politician knows the rules before they send those scandalous Twitters, or call that escort service, or hire a rentboy, or tap that shoe under the stall. Just because that is the name of the game, however, does not mean that this site has to participate.

In the name of this political game, however, the claim is often made that the offending congressman has somehow brought shame to Congress as an institution. When I heard this about Anthony Weiner I winced. How could Weiner, or any other libidinous member of Congress bring shame to an institution that is so blatantly shameless? Let’s be clear, a middle aged man making an ass of himself to get the attention of women half his age may be creepy and uncouth, but it certainly isn’t enough to bring shame to an institution like Congress. None of the wide stances, acts of adultery, patronage of prostitutes, call girls, lesbian bondage clubs, rentboys and all of the hypocrisy that goes along with them brings shame to Congress.

What brings shame to Congress is its demonstrated inability or unwillingness to govern. It is a comatose and atrophied institution where good ideas go to rot and bad ideas thrive so long as they serve the corporate interest. This is what brings shame to Congress as an institution. How wonderful it would be if our only concern regarding our legislative branch were the sex lives of our representatives.

Mid-life crisis, yielding to temptation, repressed and hidden desire, these are nothing more than relatively common human foibles. Lying about these human foibles is what human’s do, because revealing our foibles is embarrassing. Ultimately, however, Weiner’s actions are not “unforgivable” and are certainly not the reason why Congress is less popular than Brussels Sprouts.

Legislative gridlock, partisan posturing, representatives bought and paid for by the highest bidders, pandering to corporate interests while ignoring constituents…these bring shame to Congress. One party dedicates itself solely to the undoing of the other, even if that means hurting the citizens in the process. After all, a bad economy increases the chances of the minority party. Legislation can’t get through the Senate without sixty votes. One Senator, in the pocket of corporate interests, can put a hold on popular and necessary bills and not even give his name. By the time a bill gets to the President’s desk it’s been watered down and smothered in legislative verbiage to the point of irrelevance. The original intention of the bill, even with the best intentions, is weighted with crippling riders and amendments. The only piece of legislation for which we can predict easy passage is, of course, the Congressional pay raise.

Unemployment. Health care. Foreclosures. Recession. Corporate corruption. War. Fossil Fuel Addiction. Global Warming. Environmental degradation. Floundering education. Tattered infrastructure. Trade imbalances. Rising deficits. Pollution. Homelessness. Poverty. Congress is impotent…the laughing stock of the free world. How much more shame could there be?

Frankly, licentious Tweets to a coed are less shameful than a luncheon with an oil lobbyist. Being on an escort service rolodex is not nearly as dishonorable as being on a corporate mailing list. Perhaps if Congress actually dedicated itself to meaningful legislation it could legitimately admonish the sexual transgressions of its members. When it comes to shame, however, Congress has more serious concerns.


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  13. Dear Robert and MennellI am not yet a member of ISA. Yet, I am psalee to ensure you that I will join the group in 2010. I am a PhD Student at the University of Nottingham, UK. My PhD is about the Genesis of the medical profession in Burkina Faso, and the Genesis of the Naval Profession By Elias, Publiched by the Mennells is one of my source book. I hope I will be able to contribute to the Figurational Sociology in 2010.Best regardsNate


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