Dirty Denim - The Donnas (mp3)
B is for Brutus - The Hives (mp3)
Generally speaking, I’ve come to believe we get the politicians we deserve. We get the politicians who reflect who we are, who we think we are, or who we think we want. We rarely if ever get the politicians we need, people who could actually do something powerful and positive and beneficial. Those people are generally ugly or nerdy, or they have the charm of a roadkill skunk, and we treat politics like “American Idol” or a beauty pageant, expecting entertainment and demanding these people stroke us to earn our votes.
Politics is prostitution. They seduce our minds, and we pay them with our votes and shove them out the door. Politicians rail against the horrors of prostitutes because they’re trying to eliminate the competition.
When the latest news about Arnold emerged this week, it raised eyebrows. I had the rare opportunity on Tuesday to be the one who revealed this information to a handful of people (thanks, Twitter!), and their collective reaction was perfectly 2011. Shock and surprise for all of 30 seconds -- the standard length of a political ad -- and then quick downshift into cynicality and surrender.
No, really? But they’ve been married for so long.
What am I saying? Of course he did.
What did we expect?
He’s no different and never was.
California deserved The Governator. They got the leader they deserve just as Chattanooga deserves Fred Skillern, a man who would apparently joke with a reporter that he wouldn’t invite African-American council members to his house because didn’t think he “could cook barbecue like them n------.”
It wasn’t 20 minutes into the revelation he had fathered a child a decade ago that the Twitterverse referred to him as “The Sperminator.” Ouch. Humor in Twitterville is like a tsunami, swift and harsh and unflinching.
Meanwhile, my reaction has been quite different. Because I’ve never seen Arnold as a man to idolize or think of as “a good man,” revelation of his infidelity only serves to confirm that which I already assumed: that I didn’t need to waste my time admiring him.
Instead, my reaction is a feeling that we have an opportunity here. If we as a country have an ounce of brain juice left in us, we should take this as an opportunity to reevaluate our foolishness, our obsession with celebrity, our superficial fixation with morality.
It’s a no-brainer that, had this news about “Ahnolt” come out earlier, he would never have been coronated as The Governator. This news was certainly an election killer. It’s killed Spitzer, Hart, Edwards, Sanford... seriously, this list would go on forever. Sex scandal has killed or threatened more politicians than all of Tom Clancy’s novels combined.
But we have an opportunity right now to ask ourselves the most important question possible: Did Arnold’s personal scandal, one unbeknownst to us, affect his ability to do his job?
I believe, confidently, that The Governator would have sucked no less or no more in his elected position had he not knocked up a “household assistant.” Keeping his privates out of his maid would not have given him greater wisdom, and it would not have solved California’s horrifying fiscal issues. Ahnolt stunk as a governor, but it had nothing to do with sexual scandals.
The day may never come, but we eventually need to accept a difficult but essential truth about humanity: Being a great employee or office leader or business owner or elected official has absolutely nothing to do with how you handle your non-work personal relationships.
Of equal or greater importance is this following realization: Being a great and dedicated husband or father or friend has absolutely nothing to do with how well you do a job. In fact, if we know anything in the 21st Century, it’s that placing too high a priority on family can actually hurt one’s professional career.
If we know the second part, that being a good person doesn’t make you a good employee, then why can’t we accept that the opposite is also true? We insist on clinging to this illusion that the only people we can elect with good conscience must be squeaky clean.
I want that to sink in. It’s pretty friggin’ disturbing.
Please understand. I’m not defending The Sperminator. His scandal conveniently arrives on our doorstep after we were already prepared to stop giving a shit about him, and I can only hope this makes things easier on his family.
The Sperminator will go away. Our delusions that some singular issue of morality determines a person’s leadership skills, on the other hand, will not.
We don’t have to become Italy. We don’t have to become a place where Silvio Berlusconi becomes the standard-bearer of our country.
But what seems clear to me is that, for all our hemming and hawing over the importance of morally-upstanding role models in elected office, America is hardly doing any better than other countries at policing dirty behavior.
Maybe it’s time we took a different approach.