Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Why the Left Looks Like a Big Hypocrite in the Sanford Affair

From AlterNet:

They got quite a lot wrong. In South Carolina politics, Sanford has never been known as a "Bible thumper," and he recently irritated those who are by not signing a bill that would have welded I Believe to the state license plate. He wasn't elected governor in 2002 pushing family values; he ran as a vague libertarian and was elected because a lot of Democrats, blacks especially, abandoned the odious incumbent, Jim Hodges, who got into office powered by black votes and then engineered an immense transfer of wealth from the poor and black to the better-off and white via his education lottery. Sanford didn't "lead the charge" against Bill Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky affair; he said Clinton had lied (he had) and, like a dutiful low-level Representative in a party of discipline, voted for impeachment (along with five Democrats). He is no more of a right-wing, hate-filled moralist than most anyone in the party of Barack and Bill, the party of "don't ask, don't tell"; the Defense of Marriage Act; and Personal Responsibility in the form of lectures to teenagers, lectures to poor single mothers, lectures to black men on Father's Day and laws that make life harder for them all. He could not "embarrass" the State of South Carolina, itself an embarrassment since slave times, enabled quite effectively in that condition over the years by politicians regardless of party.

None of this says much for Sanford, but it says a lot worse for his liberal scolds. They profess to be cosmopolitan, above the mumbo jumbo of religion, vanguardists for self-determination -- to know better, in other words, all the while arguing the case for compulsory monogamy and just punishment for sexual sin more vigorously than the religionists they laugh at.

More here.

Yeah, it's been tempting to pile on with this latest GOP sexual sinner. I mean, Republicans long ago threw their hat into the anti-sex camp, politically speaking, when they pulled the fundamentalists into their party. When one of them gets caught being a human being, that is, having sex outside of marriage, or having gay sex, lambasting him for it is almost irresistible.

But what, exactly, should we castigate them for? Hypocrisy, of course. Liberals are presumably cool with sex that falls outside the "family values" umbrella, or, at least, liberals, even if they disapprove, supposedly understand that adultery or cruising for gay sex are personal matters, to be dealt with privately rather than publicly. It's the conservative who makes his career reenacting The Scarlet Letter caught in flagrante delicto that deserves our contempt: he's an asshole for being anti-sex, but he's a super asshole for not practicing what he preaches. So we should fuck him up good.

Herd mentality on the left is making this all problematic. I mean, okay, it's been looking like a fucking deluge for some years now in terms of Republican sexual hypocrites, with Sanford's scandal coming so quickly on the heels of a true scumbag's revelation, Senator John Ensign of Nevada, who apparently paid a great deal of hush money to his mistress' husband, so I can see how the left would want to shoot first and ask questions later. This is great fun, after all. But fucking A, I don't really think Sanford is the hypocrite he's being made out to be, for reasons asserted in the excerpt above.

I actually feel sorry for the guy. He's the perfect example of why all this adultery shit should be private: he's in a troubled marriage, confused, and in love with another woman. I mean, sure, he should try to work out his marriage problems, but he's a human being like everybody else, not Super Jesus. And he's never, apparently, tried to fault anybody else for not being Super Jesus. Sanford has done nothing for which he should be judged. He's just trying to live his life. Cut him some fucking slack.

Also, I'm beginning to seriously wonder if the left has its own Puritans. That is, I don't know that this is all about herd mentality. There was a large number of Democrats back in the late 90s who were extremely critical of President Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky. I'll never forget listening to a call-in show on the far left Pacifica radio network the night after old Bill finally admitted to a little sucky-sucky with his intern pal: some callers were outraged; one of the hosts was talking about it as though it was Nixon all over. One caller even asserted that the President might have a sex addiction problem--to Pacifica's credit, the other host simply asked in reply, "how many times must one have sex before he's a sex addict?"

I don't get these people. To me, being liberal means supporting personal freedom, which necessarily means supporting sexual freedom. Maybe this is a misguided strain of "thought" coming out of the ivory tower backwaters of scholarly feminism. Or maybe there are a lot of liberals who continue to be uncomfortable with sexuality, in spite of their agnosticism, or atheism, or communism, whatever. But it's hard not to think that some people who self-identify as "liberal" are decidedly at odds with how I define the term. Either way, conservative or liberal, these Puritans are on the wrong side of history.