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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Politicians, Sex Scandals, & Moral Insanity

Before terms like "psychopath" existed, people who flagrantly violated the rules of basic decency without remorse were called "morally insane". In the same way that an insane person lacks normal intelligence, a morally-insane person lacks a normal sense of shame or guilt. It is unfortunate that this phrase has been discarded because it is a much more accurate description than the opaque psychobabble that replaced it.

I cannot think of a better example of current moral insanity than Anthony Weiner. He resigned from Congress after being discovered sending pictures of his junk to various women. Weiner is married. I cannot begin to fathom why someone would do that except if they lacked any sense of shame. The fact that he is now running for mayor of New York is further proof of it.

Incredibly (to me at least), Weiner has supporters who are defending him. I think such people are best described as morally retarded. It is no different than a rabid sports fan who boos any call against his team and cheers any call for it. The essence of morality is the Golden Rule, and from that it follows that actions which are immoral for one person are immoral for everybody. No animals are more equal than others, to paraphrase Orwell.

Wiener is not alone. During my lifetime, a number of leading politicians from both parties have been caught up in sex scandals: Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Larry Craig, and Mark Sanford to name but a few.

Is one side better than the other? I think not. On the one hand, the Republicans tend to style themselves as the defenders of traditional values. This makes the hypocrisy of a guy like Gingrich, who cheated on his wife while taking then president Clinton to task for doing the same, all the more appalling. On the other hand, Democrats criticize Republicans for violating norms that they disregard completely. It's like a meth-head scolding a drunken AA member. Accusations of hypocrisy mean nothing when they come from people who have no moral standards beyond "might makes right" and "the ends justify the means".

I think Americans should realize that politicians are a lot like rock stars. Rock stars party hearty because they can, and since most people in the same situation would do the same, it is silly to get hung up about it. Politics is a job where appearances, intentions, and emotions usually trump facts, logic, and results. It's occasionally good entertainment and not much else.
The only hope I see is to return to the limited-government principles that were and are the foundation of America's success. Politics ought to be a dull, part-time job with few duties. A good politician should do little and do it slowly. Einstein said something like force attracts men of low character. If you want better people in charge, push to limit the government's power as much as possible.  

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