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How to Handle a Woman

New York City’s municipal election isn’t the only naughty sex comedy on the political stage. Out in San Diego the mayor seems determined to demonstrate that the politicians on west coast can be just as tawdry as those back east.
Mayor Bob Filner has made comments to countless women that are so far beyond even contemporary standards of public decorum that feminists such as attorney Gloria Allred are calling for his resignation, which takes some doing some considering that Filner is a Democrat. Anthony Weiner, who resigned from his congressional seat after lewd photos of himself that he had sent to various surfaced and is now being pressed to resign from New York City’s mayoral race because he kept sending even lewder photos after his resignation, and Elliott Spitzer, who was forced to resign from New York’s governorship because of his penchant for prostitutes but somehow still leads in the race for New York City comptroller, are also Democrats.
We mention these men’s party affiliation not because Republicans would never engage in such crude behavior, but rather because it is always so prominently mentioned in media reports when they do. Weiner’s unfortunate name and the high office he seeks have combined to force more media coverage that his deeds would ordinarily merit, but Spitzer’s whore-mongering past has gone largely unremarked, and there’s a suspicion that Filner’s misdeeds have been getting attention because San Diego is one of the last bastions of California Republicanism, but in none of these cases have the media been quite so gleefully outraged as they surely would be if it they were all in on a Grand Old Party. There’s certainly been no attempt to tie the scandals together into proof of some party-wide pathology, which would surely be the case if they were Republicans.
Several journalists of our acquaintance freely admit the double standard but contend that it is proper, explaining that Republicans deserve the extra scrutiny and scorn because their party presents itself as the defenders of old-fashioned “family values.” Why the Democrats should enjoy a get-out-of-scandal card because they don’t even pretend to have any standards of personal behavior is never made clear, but in any case the argument has long outlived any truth it might have. Republicans rarely push the “family values” slogan these days, being more concerned with keeping the country from insolvency and other economic concerns, while the Democrats consistently accuse their opponents of misogyny and tout themselves as the defenders of womanhood.
Such hypocrisy is more galling than that of the misbehaving Republicans. the most Bible-thumping politician who gets caught with his pants down isn’t trying to make religion compulsory, but the silly sensitivity-training workshops that the average private sector worker endures and the civil liability laws that inspired them have been imposed by the Democratic party with the force of government. These laws and the new rules of sexless behavior have done some good, and the officious way they are often enforced has done some harm, but certainly the political that is responsible should be held to the same rules.
Those rules were dispensed with entirely for the benefit of Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy, and assorted other sexual miscreants whose stands on behalf of women’s rights were said to justify their behavior, so the occasional Democratic criticisms of Filner, Weiner, and Spitzer represent a welcome development. More pushback will be needed, though, if the Democrats want to revive their campaign theme of Republican “war on women” without looking ridiculous.

— Bud Norman

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What’s New in New York City

New York City is a nice place to visit, in our experience, but in accordance with the old cliché we wouldn’t want to live there. Despite all the undeniable attractions that make the Big Apple such an appealing place for a short vacation, our feelings about the city were best expressed by Buck Owens and his Buckaroos when they sang “I Wouldn’t Live in New York City (If They Gave Me the Whole Dang Town).”
One could go on at length about the traffic and crime and overcrowding and high rents and excessive taxation and regulation, as New Yorkers so often do, but perhaps the most telling example of how very unlivable New York City has become is its upcoming municipal election. Currently leading in the mayoral race is a former Congressman who was forced to resign his office after photographs of his underwear-clad genitalia that he had “texted” to various to women surfaced. In the race for Comptroller, a position that is apparently of potential importance, a former governor who was forced to resign his office after revelations of his whoremongering is leading a field that includes his former madam. In a city with more than eight million people, there are apparently no equally qualified candidates for these posts who are not tainted by sex scandal.
At the risk of sounding like some bitterly Bible-clinging prairie denizen, which we admittedly are, this strikes us as an especially sorry state of affairs. An argument can be made that public exhibitionism and a predilection for prostitutes do not preclude talent for municipal politics or comptrolling, but surely such a large city should include few candidates of similar abilities who are not exhibitionists or whoremongers. Even in our own provincial outpost of Wichita, with a population of about one-sixteenth of New York City’s, we manage to comptrol ourselves without assistance from a known whorehound or his procurer. Our mayor is prone to those fishy “public-private partnerships” that are currently fashionable and is nothing to brag about, we must confess, but at least we’ve never been exposed to any self-portraits of his private parts.
Perhaps we are being oh-so-parochial in our harsh judgments of soliciting prostitutes and transmitting semi-pornographic image to casual social media acquaintances, but we’ll not allow any New Yorker to say that it’s because our hometown is so unreasonably prudish. Smoking has been banished from the bars but it is still tolerated on the sidewalks, salt shakers are still found on every restaurant table, fat people are not a matter of public concern, and all manner of political opinions that would be considered beyond the pale by polite New York City opinion are not only tolerated but regarded as common sense. We can also muster an appropriately feminist argument against whoremongering and exhibitionism, and not just some musty appeal to millennia-old wisdom, and do not feel that our hipness is diminished by an aversion to prostitution and smutty pictures imposed upon young social acquaintances.
Besides, we are old enough to recall a pre-Bill Clinton era when our hairy-legged feminist girlfriend was railing against Sen. Bob Packwood’s undeniably and creepy off-color comments made him unfit for public service. Old-timers will recall that Packwood was a Republican, and the whoremonger and the exhibitionist in the New York City elections are Democrats, so perhaps that explains the difference. In any case, it seems that both traditional and progressive standards of behavior are being compromised by the elections in New York City.
It’s none of our business, we suppose, except that even around here someone will occasionally say that “Well, that’s the way they do it in New York City.”

— Bud Norman