This post is specially dedicated to my thousands of admiring readers who are major political figures (you can’t prove otherwise). It’s time we had a grown-up talk.
When Bill Clinton left office I thought it was finally safe for children to watch the news again. But clearly you folks need some help dealing with two very important subjects: The Internet and your personal sexual choices which creep me out. Why? Not to save your careers, or protect the Republic, or advance your political agenda. I want you to listen to my advice because I’m sick of hearing what you cheeky monkeys do with your free time and I’d like a break.
Many of you came of age in the era of the rotary dial phone, so let me take a moment to explain the Internet. The Internet is a place where people post semi-anonymous naked pictures of themselves for anyone to enjoy. It can also be used for other stuff like playing games, stealing classified information, pirating movies, and virtual farming.
But, mostly it’s for nudity.
You may be thinking, “Awesome, how can I get started?” You’re right to be excited, but first things first.
You need to understand that some of your more repressed constituents might respond negatively to unsolicited messages which include pictures of your crotch (or “weiner” as the kids call it these days). The Internet might seem like a magical, anonymous place where you can finally let your pervy self breathe free, but don’t be fooled. Whatever you do there will eventually find its way onto the pages of the New York Times. We all know this won’t stop you from sending sexually explicit messages to underage staffers, but it requires you to make some plans for the future.
Regardless of your party affiliation, policy positions, or the “substantive issues” you think people ought to be focusing their attention on, you will need to have a plan for what to do when (let’s just skip the “if”) those animals in the lamestream media notice what you’ve been doing with your Twitter feed. I want to help you help me by having your lewd behavior disappear quickly from the headlines.
The good news is that this new era of electronic political sex scandals works just like the good old days when drunken politicians used to drown pretty girls after driving off a bridge. Don’t let the fancy technical details dazzle you. Responding to your digital scandals requires the same political blocking and tackling you learned after that incident at the frat party.
Regardless whether the scandal you’re experiencing is the result of electronic fumbling or failure to pay off your gay masseuse/meth dealer, your response should be the same. The next time you’re caught sending lewd emails, get arrested soliciting sex in a bathroom, or find that your private stash of totally awesome self-crotch-portraits has been raided and shared on the Interwebs, stop for a moment to think before your next move.
In that moment you must resist your overwhelming urge to lie. This goes against every political instinct, but trust me this terribly embarrassing incident is the one time in your political career when it might actually pay to tell the truth. Tell the whole truth. Tell it once. Then kiss your miserable wife and go home.
Compare these examples.
Democratic Congressman Barney Frank engaged in a years’ long relationship with a gay prostitute. Along the way he used his political position to help the guy deal with his criminal problems. Career-ender, right? Wrong. Frank candidly admitted what he had done and convincingly denied what he hadn’t. He is still one of the most powerful figures on Capitol Hill.
And it works just as well for Republicans. Even if you’ve built your career on half-sincere religious prudery, all is not lost when you’re caught at a brothel. Remember Sen. David Vitter’s career-ending scandal? Darn right you don’t, because he handled it correctly. He acknowledged the provable details in a written statement, stopped talking to the media, ignored the more disgusting details as they emerged, and waited for America’s collective attention deficit disorder to work its magic. And he continues to collect a federal paycheck as a Louisiana Senator.
If you look into the camera, tell it straight, and hold your ground you can get away with anything in this country. Newt Gingrich cheated on I don’t know how many wives. He blamed it on America for being so unbelievably hot he couldn’t stand it. And now he’s a serious (well, serious Republican) Presidential candidate.
Compare that to John Ensign, the only honest to God Pentecostal and authentic Promise Keeper in the Senate. He got caught cheating on his wife. Yea, that’s all. No call girls or diapers or corpses. Easy, right?
Instead of using the Vitter Gambit like a pro, he tried to shut the matter up by arranging a political job for the woman’s angry husband and funneling business to him through his political donors. Then he paid the woman off with $96,000. Entirely unnecessary, not to mention expensive. Oh, and criminal.
Now instead of running for President he’s looking at his retirement options, which include a shot at free federal room and board with unlimited homemade tattoos.
Don’t be a Weiner. Even in the Internet Age, whatever you did can’t top Ted Kennedy. Don’t bother lying. And definitely don’t spit out bizarre evasions in front of Rachel Maddow. If your story makes sense and the details check out, the public will lose interest within a week or so regardless of how disgusting your actions might have been.
Swallow your pride, acknowledge what you did, and decide what to do with your career. And please get off the front page. We have more important things to be disgusted by.
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