Weiner Folly No Joke, But More Serious Business Than Politics
by Larry Perrault on June 7, 2011 at 5:57 PM
I suppose it could startle some of you, but there are (gasp!) things in life more important than politics. America is a unique place where social fates rest largely on the prudence of its citizens, who have been given some principles and a system in which they were declared the nation’s sovereign. Good luck with that! When asked what kind of government he and the other deliberating founders had created, Benjamin Franklin replied: “A republic…if you can keep it.” With those principles hopefully constraining the people, national conduct is still ultimately dependent on democracy, which Winston Churchill called “the worst possible form of government…except for all of the others. Men are flawed, both corporately and individually. Politics is about abstractions: In this situation, is this right or not? What will make us stronger and safer as people and as a society as a whole?” But, in whatever cultural and legal milieu, there are responsibilities on every individual life and aspect of community.
I have the germ of a very large thought that would involve a very large project, but there is nothing immediate on order but the situation with Andrew Weiner. It is just one more of the steady and interminable examples of the follies of people getting into trouble for reasons little better than that they can. As with most liberal Democrats, I’ve watched Anthony Weiner make his case about so many things I deeply disagreed with. He’s from metropolitan New York, one of those large enclaves where the commercial demands of a large population permits the maintenance and proliferation of such bad ideas. But, after letting power, celebrity and opportunity get the better of his judgment as it often does with men, and then, trying to dispose of his indiscretion with lies and hoping it might go away, the pressures moved Rep. Weiner to confess his inappropriate conduct and apologize for the disappointment to his wife and family. And for the few who are not aware, this was not even the so typical man-caught-in-sexual-infidelity story. Weiner only confessed that he had in fact had inappropriate online (and some phone apparently) exchanges with women across the country, including sending the juvenile photo of himself in semi-undress and evident arousal. Dennis Prager commented that it was particularly silly because such displays don’t work on women as they do on men. But perhaps some women fantasize that they in particular provoke a man’s passion. Now that is silly. Surely experience shows that when men liberate their properly controlled impulses, they are not necessarily particular about it. I surely won’t and can’t speculate about the depth of his sincerity and whether in fact his deception also can extend to actual physical contact with other women. I don’t know and really don’t care.
I care about the personal betrayal and suffering. I’m a very sentimental man. Much as I have disliked what Weiner had to say poltically, I felt bad as, with his voice breaking sometimes, he claimed responsibility for his foolishness and apologized to those he had hurt; especially his wife to whom he had been married to for less than a year. In all of such scandals, I hate the destruction of the family and the betrayal of a spouse, often a woman standing by with downcast eyes as her husband flails before the public. It is a challenge to sobriety and maturity for a man to train his impulses toward a woman who has committed herself and everything she has to offer, to a man in exchange for his commitment to her. And what she offers is more than just physical. There are capacities and inclinations she has that he does not, and vice-versa. I’m not saying that women don’t falter at their duties to men, even to the extent of sexual infidelity. But most commonly, they do it for psychological reasons, whether in a sense of deprivation or a more shallow pursuit of satisfaction of ego or comfort. Men most commonly do it for the very shallow satisfaction of physical urges. That’s what makes it so sickening to see a woman and sometimes her children suffer such intense and deep emotional bruising for something so superficial.
But those distinctive capacities are what make men and women complement each other, and why they must focus on disciplining different specific propensities. And that is why homosexual unions have never been and can never be the same as natural ones. Oh, I’ve seen them together for a very long time; that’s not all I’m talking about. Obviously they will not naturally produce children and the attendant responsibilities. But I know well that my wife is reflexively attendant and competent to things that would require intense discipline and reminder for me to even approximate. And a good part of what men and women require of each other is the discipline to love and accommodate yourself to a human being who approaches life from a quite foreign perspective, both generally and in specifics. I’ve had great male friends who are dear to me. But, they could never fill the spaces that my wife does. I recalled the words and looked up the movie that made reference to that incompletion for which God designed complementary pieces, and was surprised to be reminded that it was an artistic masterpiece of human wisdom. When asked what he saw in the girl he took and interest in ROCKY Balboa said, “I dunno, she's got gaps, I got gaps, together we fill gaps.” Homosexual union may bring satisfaction, but there are great gaps in life’s experience, that they can never fill. Like homosexuality itself, I don’t affirm them because they harm or anger me, but because they define strict limits on the potential experience of human existence for those who participate in them. Of course it’s theirs to determine their life. But it’s society’s to decide what institutions it will certify. Men try and fail to escape homosexual feelings, but, some also succeed. I’ve seen both. I don’t think men are born homo or heterosexual. They are born sexual, and personality and experience facilitate the fixation of that impulse.
But as for Weiner, we can hope he will be sobered and changed by the experience. But, he is not resigning, and some ask what price he is paying, beyond a little embarrassment. Another of Winston Churchill’s lines of distilled wisdom was that “There is nothing more exhilarating than being shot at without result.” Could Weiner be emboldened by paying relatively little price? Anyway, the lesson is persistent: however circumstance makes it easy, placating a shallow physical impulse can cause traumatic injury to loved ones, occupation and reputation: big stuff.. We tell an infant to keep fingers from the stove. Don’t be a foolish child, no matter how important you think you are. THAT is important, whether you are a pampered American or live under brutal dictatorship. And now we return to our regularly-scheduled political debate…