Before we all go down in The Battle of the Bulge, we should take a deep breath and calm the fuck down.
Weinergate lives in that brief historical moment in which the people who have power own devices which are able to instantly take and transmit pictures of their own genitalia to other people but grew up in a world in which such devices weren’t yet invented. That’s what this is. That’s why we should all take a deep breath and calm the fuck down. The US press corps is shocked — shocked! — to discover that politicians have sex lives, with all the complications and messiness that always brings with it.
Sexual and political mores have not caught up to the inevitable reality that all future politicians will live lives of transparent histories. All their dirty secrets, their crotch shots and booty calls will be at least potential common knowledge, because their past lives are stored and retrievable at any time, as Dan Savage eloquently argued in the opening monologue to this show. And with the NSA hoovering up all of our drunken texts? Hoo boy, future biographers will have a field day.
Will it change things? We should hope so, because Jesus God, these sex scandals are so fucking boring. Bill Clinton’s cigars, Sanford’s Appalachian Trail, Weiner’s bulge and some dirty talk. Please. Couldn’t we at least get a new Profumo affair? That had some class: cold war subterfuge! Mansions! The KGB! An axe-wielding Jamaican drug dealer! A government collapsing! A prime minister resigning! Weinergate 2.0 isn’t even a real sex scandal, it’s stuff you tell a marriage counsellor.
Here’s a good rule: sex scandals should only be a matter of public interest when there’s an actual point of public interest in them. When the politician himself indulges in practices he condemns, for instance, or if he is involved in illicit dealings about public money and public power that also have blowjobs in the mix somewhere. Why? Because here’s another good rule: people’s sex lives are none of our fucking business.
The press can report on these things in one way alone if wants to keep up its professional standards: by demonstrating the public interest in knowing these things. By showing that there’s a line between Anthony Weiner the candidate and Anthony Weiner the idiot who texts people. Because if history has shown us one thing, it is that people whose dicks have a very low IQ can make really excellent politicians. I am just now reading Bearing the Cross, an exhaustive, but excellent biography of Martin Luther King jr, case in point.
And while we’re all watching Weiner’s wang wane and gradually disappear from public consciousness, the years roll by. And today’s high-schoolers become senators and MPs and cabinet secretaries. And soon, the powerful will have grown up with porn production studios in their pockets, and a world surrounding them which remembers and makes retrievable every single stupid thing every single one of them ever did while drunk. And by then, one hopes, we will have gotten back to thinking about democratic politics, not these bullshit prurient tease shows the press insists on putting on for our reptilian brain stems in the hope that it will miss the fact that it isn’t getting the public conversation which an honest, hard-working brain stem damn well deserves.
Seriously, I know very little of Weiner’s politics, but I think if you’re in New York, you should vote for him just on general principle, so this idiot moment of history can begin to be over. This is not an important conversation to be having right now. Change the conversation. End the Battle of the Bulge. Zip your weiners. Let’s talk politics.