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Forced to care about the stupid national sex scandal of the day

Why, it's practically an American tradition.

Yet again, a powerful man — and, yes, pretty much always a man — has embarrassed his political party and humiliated his wife by acting like a 13-year-old boy, only worse.

And forced the rest of us to care about it.

Let the ritual gloating from The Other Side begin.

We were hearing "boys will be boys" long before Clinton and his cigar, right on through to the assorted affairs and scandals of our Mark Foleys and John Edwardses and up to the recent shocker from Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Who right about now must be doing the Snoopy dance as his headlines fade and shift to the unfortunately named Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York.

Weiner, a Democrat in case you hadn't heard, is the latest to get caught up in a truly stupid sex scandal, his for sending naughty photos of himself via Twitter.

Just as important, for lying about it. And lying. And lying.

So we get another national scandal du jour, one with legs that's good for days, even weeks, of gleeful parsing on 24-hour news, radio and late night TV.

This time it's Republicans who get a free pass to high-horse and fist-bump and say: See, the other guys have the real degenerates, the creepiest creeps, the biggest hypocrites, not us, at least not this time. (History would urge neither side to get too smug in these delicate matters. You're always going to have a guy from your own tent who, say, tells his mistress he wants to marry her while they are at the National Prayer Breakfast, as in former Sen. John Ensign.)

Stupid has no party affiliation.

Maybe we should propose legislation to decree that when any politician starts being called a Young Democratic Hopeful or Rising Republican Star, he must take a basic course in How Not To Be Stupid. And pass.

Yes, this would be an insult to all the ones who do not dabble in dreck. But I am beyond wondering why some hyper-type-A men risk everything — career, reputation, family — though risk surely must have something to do with it.

You could call this one a salacious red herring, a scandal to distract us from our country's real problems, a story not worth much notice. I do not want to care about this. Except we have to care about this.

People say Americans worry too much about such things, particularly when it involves consenting adults, that we are too priggish when it comes to stories of sexuality.

But we are forced to pay attention when such scandals raise questions of whether a man's political power played into his dealings with women, or if he used his office to pay for or shield his proclivities.

We are forced to think of the damage to spouses and children and what it says about the man we elected.

We are especially forced to pay attention when it turns out the guy lied and is officially and forever a liar. Sometimes, the saying goes, the test of character is not what you do but what you do after. Weiner did not score so high on that one.

What's frustrating is that we're dealing with this mess even with slightly more important things on our to-do list, like Medicare and jobs — remember jobs? — not to mention who ends up running our country in the next go-round.

But, no, we're busy buzzing about a bad boy taking pictures of himself in his undies. It's America. It's what we do.

Forced to care about the stupid national sex scandal of the day 06/07/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 7, 2011 9:54pm]

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