… back after a sabbatical.
I have mixed responses to the New York Times article about John McCain. When Clinton’s daliances [both before and during his Presidency] were constantly in the news, I found it annoying. One doesn’t have to look at Bill Clinton very long to know he’s a terminal flirt – boyish good looks persisting into his late life, exhuberant charm, jazz saxaphone… None of us had any trouble believing the stories. But I was furious with his attempts to lie about his relationship with Monica Lowensky. It was the lying, not the sex that got to me. It’s interesting to me that with all of his scandals, I never questioned his integrity as a President. I still feel that way. Clinton was just something of a Rocker – an odd choice for a President, but it was okay with me. Yet his lying got to me. I wanted him to step down when it happened and give the reins to Al Gore. I still wish he’d done that. It’s a paradox to me that I feel that way. I think the truth is that I was embarassed that he was so vulnerable. I don’t like it that I reacted like a parishoner who just found out that the Preacher was making hanky-panky with the Church Secretary, but that’s how I felt.
I was recently in a discussion with some friends about Pastors who get involved with the Choir Director or an Elder’s wife. Some vamoose in the night [like Ted Haggard]. Some apologize and resign. Some apologize and plead to be given a second chance. And some even bring it off. I don’t know what I think about all of that. It does seem like a betrayal of trust, since Pastors generally take a position of moral leadership in their communities. It’s always disillusioning to the Congregation, particularly the kids who don’t know what to make of it. I was in professions [Physician, Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis] where the biggest sin was to become involved with a patient. The reason is solid as a rock. It isn’t about some kind of moral code about sex. It’s because becoming personally involved with a patient is always exploitation – taking advantage of one’s position in another person’s life for personal gain, even when the seducer is the patient. It’s a paradigm for "looking for love in all the wrong places."
I’m a bit put off that we’re in that phase of the presidential campaigns where the dirt starts flying. I’m not really opposed to the kind of microscope we use to evaluate Presidential hopefuls. It’s the price they pay for wanting to hold that office. It ‘humanizes’ them, letting us see if they’ve got the necessary humility quotient to fill such a grandiose office and survive showing us all of their warts. But it’s not very interesting. Somehow, Bush and Cheney made it through this part of the process with flying colors. Their warts weren’t in the sexual arena. Their flaws were more ominous, and well hidden prior to the election.
But my other reaction reading this McCain story is consistent with a lot of other things about him that have bothered me all along. I would actually welcome a Republican Candidate of integrity. I doubt I’d vote for such a person, but I’d be glad to have one running. It would make the election about competence, policy, and ideology rather than personality. It’s strange to be a lifelong Liberal Democratic voter longing for an honorable Republucan Candidate. But I think that’s just an idealistic Abraham Lincoln fantasy of mine [as a kid, I "liked Ike." ].The Republican Party has either become or has always been the Party of business capitalists, the Party focused on political power, the Party of Lobbyists and money – nothing much bigger than the Party of the wealthy. They stay in power by finding ways to get the non-rich to vote for them – fear of non-Wasps, fear of non-Christians, fear of Liberals, fear of Communism, fear of Socialism, fear of Russians, fear of Arabs, fear of women, fear of homosexuals, fear of … So these stories about McCain are no big surprise. He’s a Republican. He works for Lobbyists, taking their favors. And that’s the way he’s acted. He comes out strong for his principles and reform, but when it’s all said and done – he’s right there in the middle of the problem riding around in corporate jets, interceding for crooked businessmen, backing down on his reform campaigns.