Sex and the Single Political Culture
I want you to watch a politician who understands the financial services industry, now the most important factor in returning us to economic growth, and who is at the top of his game discussing how we sold out the manufacturing base of the country while in thrall to that financial services industry, particularly Goldman Sachs, which created artificial paper profits and used their vast political connections to cut the line and receive trillions in handouts when those paper profits went up in smoke. As a result, the banks have rebounded thanks to the intense effort of the federal government, but that money has not flowed through them and into the creation of new productive sectors of the economy that would create jobs.
The only additional piece of information you need is that this particular politician cannot practice politics anymore because he solicited prostitutes, and as a Democrat not named Larry Craig, David Vitter, John Ensign or Mark Sanford, he must resign for a sex-related mistake. Funny how that worked out right at the time that the financial sector was on the verge of melting.
I don't glorify Eliot Spitzer's conduct. But clearly he is virtually the most important politician in America for the times who cannot use his skill and talent because of a personal indiscretion. And this has become a real paradox in America, where personal failings get confused with real and thoroughgoing criminal activity, and the over-moralists in Washington pick and choose which to emphasize. Thus we have a situation where Marcy Wheeler says blowjob on television and everyone in the media runs for the fainting couch, but hours earlier on the same network good ol' boy Pat Buchanan can advocate for murdering a 19 year-old and nobody had any similar reaction, just a shrug of the shoulders and words like "Oh, Pat!"
Our sexual hangups date back to our Puritan ancestry. They will always spark attention and furious twitterings (the offline kind) back and forth. When they get in the way of legitimate investigations into the rule of law and the work of public servants uniquely qualified to fight back against the corporate control of government by the financial industry, they become real barriers to progress. And no matter how many moralizers fall under the spell of passion and fall from their own personal standards, this zing of attention to sex will never cease.