Decoding Desire

Andrew Sullivan —  Jun 8 2011 @ 2:38pm


Susannah Breslin exposes our cultural hypocrisy:

Americans are fascinated by political sex scandals because the politician is doing what Americans are doing but won’t admit, or what they wish they were doing but won’t say, and Americans, rather than confess their natural tendencies or sexual fantasies, would rather criticize those political figures who there, but for the grace of God, are doing what Americans wish they were doing.

Tracy Clark-Flory summarizes:

These new shots may not be as raunchy or suggestive as the original but they are much more revealing — and not just about Weiner. They show a person wanting to be wanted, trying pathetically to be desirable, and that I dare say is a universal. It hints at how human sexuality can be at once narcissistic and self-destructive.

Clark-Flory's whole piece is really insightful. Greenwald makes powerful related points as well. The key thing here is that we have dispensed with even the pretense of any over-arching justification for this attack on Weiner. He hasn't been accused of adultery or hypocrisy; he has committed no crime; it doesn't seem as if he has spent any public money. No one he corresponded with complained. No harrassment is involved. And yet this case of doing something which is ubiquitous online is equated, in some cases, with Dominique Strauss-Kahn's brutal alleged rape.

I'm just amazed at the resources of American puritanism. This is the first sex scandal I can think of in which there was no even faintly credible reason to do it, but pure partisan hatred, and no actual sex. And yet Nancy Pelosi wants an ethics investigation! Maybe the correct response is for everyone to get a Twitter account and send out some part of their torso. The more the merrier.

(Image of "That Weiner-Spitzer-Clinton Look" via the City Room blog)