The Clintonization of Politics Begins

Anthony Weiner is at it again, a three-time loser caught once again exposing himself in Internet exchanges with younger women—who inevitably hand him over to the tabloids for a feeding frenzy.

Given his compulsion toward self-destructive behavior, Anthony Weiner is actually lucky sending revealing photos to girls is his thing. If it were liquor, he’d probably already be lying in the gutter on Skid Row. If it were heroin, he’d probably be dead by now. As it is, his third time will cost him plenty, including his marriage to top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin and—well, given the circumstances of the latest iteration of this scandal, he may be unlikely to get either custody or visitation rights with his son.

But that’s his business, and we can only wish it would remain his business. For the rest of us, having the Weiner scandal on the front pages is an early reminder of what it’s like having the Clinton family and its hangers-on at the center of American politics. What happens is that everything becomes all about them, and their personal soap operas become national news.

A lot of us remember this from back in the 1990s, when the news was dominated for a decade by Clinton scandals: “bimbo eruptions,” shady real-estate deals, suspicious cattle-futures windfalls, abuses of power by Arkansas cronies, the ick-inducing Monica Lewinsky scandal, suspicious presidential pardons, disappearing White House furniture. It was an endless cavalcade of having this one family and all its grasping corruption and personal soap operas dominate the news.

The Clintons were hardly the first example of this, and it’s no surprise they would draw others into their orbit. In 2011, during the first iteration of Weinergate, I drew the conclusion that “They’re All a Bunch of Weiners.”

Politics, by its nature, attracts preening, unprincipled power lusters. Many of them are drawn into politics by a psychological insecurity that gives them a compulsive need for adulation from others, which often includes seeking the attentions of younger women. Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Elliot Spitzer—is Anthony Weiner out of place among these people?

These are the kind of people who want to run cities and countries and command armies, but they cannot even govern themselves. Those who delve into the psychology of these things might well conclude that people like Weiner and the Clintons want to control everything else precisely because they cannot control their own lives. It’s the ultimate overcompensation.

But the point is that I don’t want to delve into their psychology. I don’t want to have to think about their psychology, partly because it’s not very pleasant but mostly because my liberty and prosperity and security should not be so dependent on some powerful neurotic straightening out his or her tangled personal life.

For example, I don’t care even the remotest little bit about the Obamas’ first date, and I think people who do should check themselves into a rehab program for political sycophants. But if someone chooses to make a movie about it, which apparently someone did, I get to ignore it. I can do that, because one of the few good things about Barack Obama’s presidency is that his personal life is not a soap opera, at least not a public one. I do hope that, whatever personal demons the Obamas might have, they will continue to shove them way back into the back of the closet so we never have to know or care about them. That frees us up to spend more mental energy understanding what a disaster president Obama’s policies have been. After all, shouldn’t the policies, and the lessons we learn from them, be more important than the person who proposes them?

Ah, but there’s the problem. So many of the policies of the left consist of giving a lot of personal power to the people who occupy executive office, to use as at their unlimited discretion. President Obama’s approach to governing has relied so heavily on the use of executive orders, as a replacement for being able or willing to reach any agreement with Congress, that the personality and temperament of the next person to wield those powers matters more than ever. While Obama might be a fairly dull fellow, we can count on getting drawn into all the petty personal dramas of his successor. And both of the leading candidates have way more personality than I would like to hear about for the next four years. (By contrast, on the very remote chance Gary Johnson gets elected, I look forward to extensive updates on his skiing and cycling exploits.)

The only conclusion to draw from these episodes is that we should always expect the politicians in Washington, DC, to act like a bunch of Weiners—and that’s one of the reasons we should limit the amount of power they have over our lives.

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