Monday, June 13, 2011

Anthony Weiner and the Juvenilization of American Political Leaders

I haven't commented on the Anthony Weiner situation because, honestly, what's there to say?  Men behaving badly: it's hardly a new or engrossing script.  Powerful men behaving as if the rules of human decency that apply to ordinary mortals have no sway at all for them, once they obtain 1) money, 2) power, 3) cachet, 4) trophy women, 5) fill in the blank.

Even to talk about all of this is to give it more play than it's worth in serious political discussions--the kind we ought to be having now, instead, about the economy, the continued determination of the very wealthy to subjugate everyone else in the world to their rapacious iron will, the destruction of the environment by the said very wealthy, the captivity of democratic political processes by the said very wealthy, and so on.  With all of this demanding serious attention and careful analysis (and concerted political action to oppose it), we can only talk about Weiner?!

Still.  So much that the wealthy ruling (male) elite imagines it has the unbridled right to do to everyone else does, in fact, arise out of the underlying presupposition that men have the right to use and abuse others.  Just because.  Because they're men.

And so you can't really effectively address the Weiner situation without addressing machismo, male entitlement and the presuppositions on which it rests, patriarchy--the continued domination of just about everything possible by men.  Men who continue to behave badly because they feel entitled.

Men who never quite grow up, but who nevertheless rise to positions of amazing power over others.  Of power over others that we give to them, so that what Weiner has done (and Vitter and Craig and the Newt and Rekers and Sanford and on and on ad nauseam) implicates us.

What does it say about us that we elevate men like this to positions of responsibility in our culture and in our institutions?

And though I have been quietly thinking these thoughts in the past several days as the Weiner discussion is plastered like wall-to-wall discourse across the media and internet while holding my tongue, I don't think I can hold my tongue any longer after seeing the assortment of juvenile new pictures of Weiner released this past weekend at the TMZ site.  It's the picture at the top of this posting that has finally pushed me over the edge and caused me to comment on this mess.

Weiner in a backwards ballcap, at the House gym, snapping photos of himself on his cell phone: is the man 13 years old, mentally and emotionally?  And if the answer to that question is yes (and I think it is, in some respects, though I think the same answer would apply to a majority of the men who rule us everywhere), then Jesum Pete, what a mess we've placed ourselves in by giving power and authority to these men.

Maybe our country would be in better shape if Weiner and Emanuel and Obama and Schock and the other big boys stopped playing basketball and working out and sporting those jaunty adolescent backwards ballcaps and started doing some real work for a change--real work to address the real needs of a nation in trouble.  In serious trouble, because the wealthy elites that really do control everything know they can count on the shallow adolescent fixations of the ruling men in D.C. to prevent those men from serious commitment to the kind of careful analysis and solidarity with the poor that we need in our leaders today, to get ourselves out of the mess we're in.

Who needs study or solidarity with the poor when there's a gym to go to, and a basketball to dribble, and a ballcap to turn backwards on one's head as one captures yet another crude, childish crotch shot to send to some young woman over the internet?  Lord save us from the men you've sent to rule us!

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