Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Susie Bright on David Vitter

Susie Bright on David Vitter

I agree with this statement in her post:

the South had a traditional tolerance for queers and hushed-up pregnancies— read your Tennessee Williams

I have seen some of the private clubs of Atlanta, and had enough conversations with Bubba to know that that is true.

I disagree, somewhat, that the problem for Vitter is the fact that his NOLA prostitute may not have been white. I think the problem, for most of us, is that the classical American appreciation for vanilla sex and cheesecake pics, as much as the truly transgressive bits of porn are under attack by Gonzalez and the GOP to score points with the type of evangelical Southern voter who repeatedly lets themselves get fooled by the false morality offered by Vitters, Foleys, and the socially conservative politician pretending to be more perfect than the rest of us.

I think there is a bigger problem with the spinning done by Cal Thomas (in his whimsically-titled editorial Sex and the Married Senator). Cal confuses the issue of senators patronizing brothels with cheating wives and wraps it all up in some sort of middle class experience like paying the mortgage. You know, so the working people can digest this experience as if it were their own (equally shameful) experience. It is deeper and sicker than that. It is about power and control and privilege that most of us will not experience, and most would not abuse in exactly that same fashion.

I think it might be fun, someday, to run for office and remain openly and honestly interested in sex, and in dealing more fairly and pragmatically with the necessary regulation of the adult internet, of strip clubs, working legalized prostitution, perhaps, or otherwise achieving the goals of the brave individuals that do seek to organize sex workers and extend to them the same benefits of membership in society that everyone else seems to feel entitled to.

It is after all the oldest profession, and one of the first motivations, no doubt for common currencies and the other artifacts of civilization.

Just don't blame the wives, or the prostitutes, or the "lower natures" of ourselves as Cal Thomas does. Blame unreasonable social codes and unreasonable expectations for the behavior of both politicians (they will cheat, whore and screw at best, and be utterly corrupt entirely too often) and the rest of us. Blame 'fear of sex' itself or the imagined social sanctions that might be applied on any Senator that brazenly, openly visited legal brothels in Nevada or Europe.

I am not interested in ridiculing the man that is David Vitter, but I do think we have to trash the culture that elected him, that polarizes around him, that denies us the opportunity to deal effectively with the underlying issues in fair laws and more reasonable regulation.

There will be more to come. On Larry King last night, Larry Flynt said he has 20-30 solid leads on perhaps twenty more high profile Washington, D.C. personalities, and the target has been elected officials - not appointees. From the transcript:

FLYNT: Oh, yes. We've gotten 10 times more leads from the recent ad in "The Post" than we got during the Clinton impeachment. Unbelievable. We've got...

KING: Ten times more leads?


KING: Does that mean you have phone numbers that you're following up?

FLYNT: Not just phone numbers.

KING: Names?

FLYNT: We've got good leads. We've got over 300 initially. And they're down to about 30 now which is solid.

KING: When are you going to print?

FLYNT: Well, the last thing now is we don't know if we want to let it to drip, drip, drip or we want to go with everything at once.

KING: You mean you might release 30 names at once?

FLYNT: A good possibility.

KING: Will we be -- I don't want to get into names yet. Will we be shocked?


KING: Were you shocked?

FLYNT: I was shocked, especially at one senator but...

KING: One senator especially? FLYNT: Yes.

and too me, this is the part that makes the most sense:

KING: What bothers you the most is the hypocrisy, right?


FLYNT: It's the biggest threat to democracy.

KING: Speaking out on morals?


KING: Jeane, does that bother you, when people speak out on morality and then act immorally?

PALFREY: It bothers me considerably. And the reason that I ultimately released the phone records, as I did, was this very point, the hypocrisy.

There's another point that needs to be mentioned as well, perhaps even more important, and that is the susceptibility of blackmail of certain clients having used the service over the years. Most people at the moment for obvious reasons are focusing upon the hypocrisy angle. However, intellectualize a bit, think about it a bit, and you'll come to the conclusion that we've come to, that there are possible people who have used the service who have become subjects and targets of blackmail. And many of these people being in D.C. most likely have security clearances.

I have been denied security clearances for bad credit, for knowing foreigners too well, for perhaps being a little insane (though that is probably also an asset), yet I have never had a secret to keep like Vitter's, and I think few people realize how dangerous to our collective security a compromised Senator might be, and yet probably every one of them is walking around with horrible guilt about not being the person they have to pretend to be around the media or on the campaign trail.

We need to humanize our standards for leadership, and we have to expect our spies and diplomats and foreign assistance technicians will screw people in and from foreign lands, but if they have to keep it a secret - they are compromised, inevitably. It bothers me, a little, to see evangelical Bush appointees running USAID operations out of brothels, secretly, but the culture they come from didn't really allow them to get it out of their system, as I did, in my youth. It was the only education that I could afford, at the time, a language school probably more complete in most respects than anything run by the DLI or universities :)

Anyway, we need more Jesse Venturas and fewer Vitters and Foleys, that is for sure.

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