Friday, June 24, 2011

Season of political discontent

For people who enjoy juicy political sex scandals, the last couple of months have been a golden era.

First, it was California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the child he fathered out of wedlock. Then it was New York Rep. Anthony Weiner who was caught sending inappropriate messages to women other than his wife.

The public already has plenty of ammunition for being cynical toward our politicians. Toss a couple of scandals like these on to the fire and the discontent becomes a raging inferno.

There are many lessons that can be learned from the Weiner situation, but perhaps the primary lesson is that many politicians simply do not know how to manage a scandal once the public becomes aware of it.

For all the public's cynicism, we tend to be pretty forgiving if a person will just admit his mistake and learn from it. However, Weiner did not do that. First, he denied that he had done anything wrong. Then, he said that somebody had hacked into his Twitter account to smear him.

Obviously, he was trying to buy time, hoping the story would go away. It did not, and he finally had to admit his mistakes. If he had just been honest when the story first broke, he might have been able to limit the political damage. Instead, he chose another approach and paid dearly.

The revelations about the end of Arnold Schwarzenegger's marriage also recently caught the public's attention.

Before becoming California's governor, Schwarzenegger had an affair with his housekeeper that resulted in a child being born. The child was born 10 years ago, but he was publicly revealed only a few weeks ago.

Now, everybody involved must endure the prying eyes of the public. It is hard to imagine a more difficult situation than having to deal with such a private matter on the public stage.

Additionally, the children (including the ones from his marriage) are old enough to understand what is going on. I am sure Schwarzenegger was not thinking of this 10 years ago, but he has to deal with this reality now.

While Schwarzenegger was wrong in what he did, we must all be careful before wagging our fingers at him too strongly. Though none of us like to admit it, all of us are capable of making decisions like his if we lose our focus. History is littered with people who made the same decisions as Schwarzenegger.

Historical figures in the Bible such as King David and Solomon both committed adultery. David was described as a man after God's own heart, but he strayed. If he can do that, what does this say about the rest of us?

The bottom line is we all need to remain humble about what we have observed in both the Weiner and Schwarzenegger situations. If we find ourselves thinking we would never do something like that then we are in big trouble. The moment we find ourselves believing we are incapable of failure then we become that much more susceptible to it.

Pride makes us behave in a funny way. It makes us get too big for our britches, and before we know it, we are standing in the wreckage of situations we never thought would occur.

I do not know if it happened this way to Weiner and Schwarzenegger. However, power and fame are great seducers. People tell us how great we are and then we start to believe it.

When we reach that point, we find ourselves with one foot dangling over a cliff and the other on a banana peel. We all need to be careful. If we do not, big problems await us.

1 comment:

Ten Irish said...

One hates to rejoice in the downfall of others, but in the case of Wiener, it had all the trappings of poetic justice. He even lied to Kirsten Powers, liberal columnist who appears regularly on FOX news. Taking advantage of their friendship and the fact that they had dated some, he told her he was innocent and she defended him on national television. The man obviously has no shame or remorse, and being the viscious attack dog that he was, it's nice to see him get his just deserts.