Inspection- Partisan Driven Political Puritanism

Or, “As the Political Stomach Churns.”

by Ken Carman

Inspection Now in more local news: Nashville’s Mayor Megan Berry was caught having an affair. My first question was, “OK, why do I need to know this? Isn’t this between her, her husband, whomever she’s having an affair with? Maybe whatever minister, priest or rabbi they wish to take consul with, or have moderate?” As the story developed, OK, it was with another government employee; that adds a complication that may need some quiet investigating. Of course the real question here comes down to was tax money used to keep the affair going. That certainly that deserves investigation, but must it be splattered all over the news as just one more poorly written political soap opera?
 Otherwise, yes, I don’t think it appropriate, but there’s plenty of evidence she’s doing her job… so I don’t care. I’m more concerned with this new dynamic where those who apologize if someone perceived what happened different than they did (Franken), or admit it happened and admit they were wrong (Megan), are punished. Meanwhile those accused of far worse behavior are simply allowed to get away with it if they lie, lie and lie again.
 I long ago tired of pols and talking heads who all too conveniently assign themselves as the morality/purity police, especially when sometimes they might want be concerned about their own glass houses.
 So where’s the big incentive to be honest when it comes to the most offensive, those with the worst behavior, who lie easily? Exactly! The incentive is to lie, lie, lie, lie, lie, lie, lie… and lie some more. And, due to today’s partisan driven political Puritanism, that works, even turns you into some supposed hero battling those damn… liberals, right wingers, suicidal gerbils. (%$#& gerbils!) As long as you lie you can get away with anything. So I ask, all the way back to the Clinton days when the prosecutor successfully turned “is” into “was there ever,” exactly of what value is this Puritanism?
 If all were held to the same standard, OK, I’d get it, but that’s obviously not the case. During Clinton’s 3rd base-based affair with Monica we were sold on the ‘fact’ that our officials not only should be held to a higher standard, but if they did such things they were horrible people who should never, ever hold public office. And… “What about the children?” They even tried to sell us on the spin that Clinton was to blame for our young children having to hear all the explicit talk, even though Bill never insisted it be made public.  That ‘accomplishment’ can be laid at the doors steps of Republicans and that ever leaky boat the USS Starr.
 Besides, if those who push Puritanism actually cared about the children then they would insist all this be behind closed doors, be investigated quietly. Instead they are more like the hypocrites Jesus called out who made big scenes by praying loudly in public. They are like those during the Dark Ages who made a point of publicly whipping each other, only instead of each other it’s anyone deemed politically inconvenient.
 If we are concerned about the children: and I am, the best way to do that is to stop insisting all the specifics be splattered onto news cameras, into microphones. Stop choosing political gain over the children. It’s so obvious they don’t care about “the children.” If by bringing a horde of cub scouts and a big bunch of brownies into the Oval Office they could have kicked Clinton out of office they would have.
 Yes, I understand some of this applies to President Trump. Bringing out his sexual adventures certainly would be advantageous to progressives. Oh, I could go with the typical excuses these days: “they started it,” or some variation on what about-ism, but I won’t. No matter who the target may be, in the larger sense, beyond partisanship, I simply see little value to this kind of all too politically convenient exhibitionism. And for those who insist all this be out in the open; all too often they are like perverts hanging around a park wearing trench coats and nothing else.
 If we could handle these things fairly, honestly, in a bipartisan manner, be as sensitive about it as possible, revealing only what we must, I would be for a more open approach. But what we have in this country, politically, is exactly the opposite.
 I am not saying we do nothing. I am not saying we go back to where such things are totally off the table, though we certainly should be more selective about what is on the table. Personally having an affair? I would choose mostly off; depending on the nature of the affair. Using public funds to accommodate that ongoing affair? More on the table, but still less in public.
 We have had plenty of politicians who have had their peccadilloes, many affairs, and performed quite well in office. Public service need not require moral purity, but even if you disagree that’s not what we have now. Too often we have political purity demands disguised as moral purity. So we really need to assess just how important revealing any of this is, and how much, and what, should be revealed. Al Franken had a lot of accusations, true, but how does questionable hugging, squeezing in an uncomfortable way, forced kissing that was part of a script, touching someone’s back… not ‘backside..’ require resignation but all the Trump accusations not? Remember what we had was accusations. Regardless of the spin Al kept saying he didn’t remember it that way, but expressed empathy. Empathy alone is not an admission of guilt: never has been.
 If the number of accusations turns the tide then it should for all, not just for the politically inconvenient.
 What we have now is the left and the right flipping roles again and again. Puritans against Bill become who cares-ists when it comes to Donald, or vice versa. Apparently Jesus wants us to forgive… sometimes… not throw stones… sometimes. Apparently the missing 11th Commandment is “Thou shall judge others, except the politically correct.” Innocent until proven guilty is impossible in this Wild West atmosphere. Rule of law when lying serves to ward off justice is impossible.
 Partisan driven political Puritanism means who the target is matters far more important than any crime, any behavior, any abuse, any forms of political corruption and anything best for the nation.
 As long as such matters are little more than games of dodge ball aimed at the politically convenient I believe it’s horribly wrong and worse than horrible for the nation.

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
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