Weiner, etc; how the press is failing to do its duty

Once again the press has failed in one of its most fundamental social duties, namely to conceal (when possible) the personal moral shortcomings of those in authority.  Authorities represent the moral order; revealing their sins demoralizes the public and weakens the social sanction against these sins.  Now, when they are exposed, the only thing to do, to reaffirm the moral consensus, is to condemn and ostracize the politician.  How much better, though, if we were never made aware of their indiscretions?  The public doesn’t have a right to know, and it’s better if the public doesn’t know.  If we must have journalism–and how much better it would be to do without it altogether!–it should be like what we had in the sixties, when the press refrained from discussing President Kennedy’s adulteries.

Also, I can’t understand why some conservatives like Larry Auster are angry with the press for not pushing President Obama on his birth certificate and for ridiculing those who bring up the subject.  Suppose the worst suspicions were true.  Suppose Obama were somehow not a valid citizen, so that the last presidential election was invalid.  Why would we want to provoke a constitutional crisis by revealing such a thing?  What good involved here would be worth compromising the legitimacy of the State?  It seems like for once the media was behaving responsibly, that is conservatively.

Of course, I still want them abolished.

14 Responses

  1. Is this a joke? Please tell me that it is…

  2. Why does someone who believes in censorship allow people like dan to post their comments?

  3. Hi Dan. You know you’re going to find crazy stuff on my site, and yet you keep coming back. Why do this to yourself? Aren’t you worried that my crazy might rub off on you?

  4. Dan accused me of being a Harry Potter fan, and that hurt, but I’ve forgiven him now.

  5. We cannot wish to be governed by perverts, since as Homer first pointed out, a ruler with a disorderly soul will communicate that disorder to the state, and a disorderly state will disorder the souls of the people. A man who cannot govern his lusts is not fit to govern men. That said, Bonald is right to say that media scandals and exposés also disrupt the social order and the souls of the people, largely by destroying the majesty requisite to rule. The root problem here is democracy. You can’t remove the blighter until the people are persuaded he must be removed, and that means everyone has to know everything. In a sensible system, decent men would have defenestrated the Weiner, and no one would ask any questions. They wouldn’t have to actually toss him out of a window, just inform him that he would be resigning for whatever reason he chose by 5:00 p.m.

  6. Why do people rubberneck at car crashes? I dunno. Maybe your god made me this way, maybe I get amused easily…
    Either way, don’t despair — the craziest blogs keep me entertained for a short while, then I stop coming, once I get my fill.
    For now the depths of crazy do amuse me. I know I should expect anything and everything on here, but certain things you say are still a bit shocking.

  7. Do make that Dan’s normal does not rub off on you.

  8. Yes. Democracy and journalism are two pieces of one whole, and one can’t have one for long without the other.

  9. I’d say that this is a culturally specific phenomenon rather than one inherent in a democratic system. An unhealthy interest on the part of the press in the private misdeeds of politicians is largely an Anglo-American thing. In France, they have a very different attitude, and French public opinion was scandalised by the very public exposure of Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Francois Mitterand (who was a socialist but had a quintessentially conservative conception of the grandeur of the presidential office) had mistresses during his 14 years as President without the press much caring. It only really came to public view when his illegitimate daughter turned up at his funeral.

  10. Would it have been better to keep DSK’s proclivities secret and allow him to gain the presidency?

    If we were living under a system where the leaders had a tendency toward moral and responsible behavior, the argument in the OP might be worthwhile. As it stands, this system only ever tends towards greater denaturization and perversity. No good comes of protecting any part of it. That the authorities are morally corrupt is an essential aspect of the system, and should not be concealed, for it speaks to the nature of that system.

  11. Are you saying that the French are more scandalized by what the press did to DSK than by what DSK (allegedly) did to the maid? That’s certainly not the impression I got from the Galliawatch blog. I expect most Frenchmen think forcible sodomy is a rather serious charge, and one that shouldn’t be swept under the rug before the forcible sodomite is elected President of France. We Americans listened to plenty of patronizing lectures on enlightened French sexual attitudes at the time of the Monica Lewinsky Scandal, Monsieur Mitterand, then recently deceased, being a major trope. Now Mitterand was clearly guilty of the sin of adultery, but does not appear to have been in the grip of uncontrollable lust. Clinton, DSK (allegedly), and Weiner took ridiculous risks to indulge pure (and perverted) lust. Men who cannot rule their own passions should not be allowed to rule other men.

    Like Bonald, I wish we could avoid lurid public sex scandals, but this is NOT because I believe that what a man gets up to in the bedroom is irrelevant to what he does elsewhere. How a man (woman too) manages his libido is a pretty good indicator of how he will manage the rest of his life. It’s an excellent indicator of recklessness, manipulativeness, impulsiveness, and short time horizons (none of which are indicated by Mitterand’s 14 year affair, all of which are indicated by Clinton’s dank cigar).

  12. The feeling of scandal was to do with the public treatment of DSK (the perp walk in particular). I don’t think anyone is condoning an (alleged) serious sexual assault. I’m not familiar with Galliawatch – if you read French, I’d recommend Le Figaro as a respected conservative news source, though you might find it a little too Bonapartist.

    I’d also make the point that it’s not just about French sexual attitudes, enlightened or otherwise. My impression is that there is a different attitude towards political authority in French culture. Yes, there is a lot of cynicism towards politicians (unsurprising, given historical problems with corruption), but there is also a certain consciousness of dignity and status which doesn’t quite exist in Anglo-American culture (at least below the level of the Monarchy). It wasn’t for nothing that de Gaulle called the Fifth Republic a “monarchie républicaine”. Mitterand understood intuitively what you call the “majesty” of office, as did his predecessor Giscard d’Estaing (Chirac understood it, but found it less easy to carry off).

    On a slightly pedantic point, Mitterand had a series of mistresses, not just the one. It’s an interesting question whether there is a link between sexual behaviour and conduct in office. I suspect that it’s not straightforward. The two greatest PMs of this country, in my view, were Gladstone, a fearsomely Christian family man, and Lloyd George, a renowned adulterer.

  13. I can’t resist mentioning that Mitterand’s nickname while in office was “Dieu”.

  14. I’d say DSK was an unusual case, because he was a menace to the people near him in a way that the average adulterer or embezzler isn’t.

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