Democrats and their dalliances

A week or so ago, I blogged about the fact that Republican leaders just aren’t as fired up as their conservative base, as evidenced by the fact that so many name brand conservative politicians are sitting out the 2012 presidential race.

A similar reality confounds the Democratic Party, which in theory represents a liberal base that is struggling to salvage its agenda.

From climate change legislation to taxes, from the composition of the Supreme Court and the future of Federal jobs programs, Democrats are on the defensive.

The 2010 midterms suggested that this is a time when the Dems need everyone on deck and focused.  Losing the Senate and White House next year are very real possibilities.

Yet we’re now being treated to the spectacle of “Weinergate,” with Anthony Weiner — a congressman from New York City and one of the left’s most ardent champions — accused of Twittering a lurid photo of himself to a woman.

A grand jury also today indicted John Edwards — once the Democrats’ most outspoken national advocate for programs helping the working-class poor — on charges that he used campaign funds to conceal an affair.

A lot of left-leaning voters like to take the European view, arguing that these distractions and scandals are private affairs at best, and conservative hit jobs at worst.

Hillary Clinton famously blamed her husband’s scandal on a “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

But if nothing else, these affairs suggest that many of the left’s leaders just aren’t very passionate or fired-up about the causes and concerns that they trumpet.

If you’re willing to put your agenda at risk over a racy photograph, or a dalliance with a campaign worker, what does that say about the agenda itself, or your commitment to it?

Can anyone dispute the notion that Bill Clinton’s second term was crippled, at least in significant measure, by his own wandering attentions?

It’s still unclear whether Anthony Weiner did anything wrong; and John Edwards is innocent until proven guilty.

But as the campaign year gets underway, these tabloid moments suggest that some of the Dems’ best and brightest are seriously preoccupied by extracurricular activities.

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41 Comments on “Democrats and their dalliances”

  1. Peter Hahn says:

    Brian – I dont see a connection between the degree of being “fired up” and scandals. We all know (especially including them) that if they get caught in a scandal their careers and their side’s programs will suffer. Arguably John Edward’s legal problems are from trying to hide a potential scandal. Same with Clinton. Most of the republicans know if they are caught in scandals they have to resign immediately. Yet there are lots and lots of scandals, and the vast majority of potential scandals never get “outed”.

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  2. It's All Bush's Fault says:

    Sec. Clinton got it right. Most of this is nothing more than a vast right wing conspiracy. Despicable tactics used to change the public perception of very good people.

    As for the scandals that happen to be factual, the right inflames the situation by acting like vicious attack dogs smelling blood. Where’s the compassionate conservatives?

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  3. verplanck says:

    Seriously Brian, you’re going here? With so much actual news, you decide to wade into this mess?

    John Edwards was indicted for campaign finance violations. Woo. Where are the indictments on those who orchestrated the financial pyramid scheme of the last decade? You’d think the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars would be a top priority, but apparently not.

    Rep. Wiener allegedly sent a pic of his crotch to someone. Woo. Meanwhile, Sen. Ensign of Nevada illegally set up his ex-chief of staff with a lobbying gig and paid him nearly $100k too keep quiet about an affair with his wife.

    The media’s fascination with Democratic penises is baffling. Why hasn’t the media been equally fascinated with Republican penises? They’ve misbehaved as well (and in more ‘interesting’ ways to boot).

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  4. Jim Bullard says:

    The “vast right wing conspiracy” is that conservatives are less forgiving of such things and more willing to use them as clubs with which to bludgeon liberals. As for Democrats being insufficiently fired up to avoid their natural impulses, you need to remember that despite centuries of effort not even the Catholic church has managed to get religious fervor to triumph over biology.

    People are animals with all that goes with that and our culture may mask it to a degree but biology generally wins one way or another. If you were to catalog all such indiscretions I doubt either side would stand out more than the other and the reason people try to hide it is simply because as a voyeuristic society we attach way to much importance to such things.

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  5. Bob S says:

    I agree with verplanck. Barney Frank and Chris Dodd should both be doing the perp walk.

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  6. mervel says:

    It’s a culture of privilege and corruption. I don’t honestly see much difference between the parties on these sorts of matters. They like nice things, they like their affairs, they are mainly interested in their own futures, their own money and their own legacy. Did John Edwards really care about the poor? More likely he cared about talking about the poor as a prop for his own glory and corrupt lifestyle. These sorts of things just feed into our collective cynicism about most modern politicians.

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  7. mervel says:

    So Jim when someone bashes another person’s head in and kills them I guess it is just biology at work, something we can’t do anything about?

    There is nothing natural or biological about adultery and sexting, we need to stop normalizing this. Many married men and women do cheat, MOST do not cheat on their spouse; it is not some impossible feat to actually be faithful to someone you claim to love.
    Is it a political issue? Probably not it mainly shows a character flaw, but flawed characters can be very successful at their jobs.

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  8. Mark Wilson says:

    Your examples don’t seem to live up to the demands of your thesis. While Wiener does have a measure of national exposure (note to self: must be careful with word-choice here), his political aspirations appear to be directed at New York’s City Hall. Edwards. . .remind me. . .what office does he hold? What office is he running for?

    I think these scandals and echos of scandals speak much more clearly to the news media’s preference of sensationalism over substance.

    As far as leadership goes, like it or not, the Democrats have President Obama leading the ticket going into next year’s election. The Republicans are still struggling to find a suitable challenger. Races to determine Senate and House majorities are largely fought state by state and district by district.

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  9. Peter Hahn says:

    Brian and Mervel – I remember statistics that 70% of men with means and opportunity cheat on their spouses. That is especially in reference to politicians and the rich and powerful. Im guessing that for women its lower, although how that math works I dont know. (Probably married men with single women). It is also possible that their (politicians) passion for their causes bleeds over into passion for other stuff.

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  10. Pete Klein says:

    If anyone wonders why news organizations are losing out to TV and movies, video games and just about any diversion, it’s because the news organizations have given up on news that helps people live their own lives and basically tries to compete with video games, reality TV and sports.
    Sex? Who cares? Bees do it. Birds do it and so do humans. Illegal? Last time I checked, just about everything in this country is now illegal and we all need to be locked up.

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  11. Mervel says:

    Maybe I think that is kind of an excuse though, it goes back to thinking that they are special.

    I think it is just a political culture of corruption and privilege. It is not the sex per say, sex with someone you love is expected and good, but the idea that you can blow off people you love for your own selfish needs would be right in character for these types of men. But then again can we blame them, I mean we live in a popular culture that looks down on men who only have sex with one women.

    Also what does cheating mean? Does it mean a lifetime of sexual adultery or does it mean a one time very stupid decision?

    I don’t know I don’t like it but I don’t think it is tied to one party and I don’t think it means the Democrats are less passionate about the cause, I think they are just doing what the rest of Washington does and they got caught.

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  12. dave says:

    “There is nothing natural or biological about adultery”


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  13. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    When corporate America (or is it corporate international company that was originally American) refuses to hire even small numbers or new workers in spite of record productivity and record profits — even though millions of people have been out of work for over a year; when our country is in the middle of a deep and long-lasting recession (depression) and those same corporations are holding on to record amounts of cash; when American service members are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan by the tens of thousands and ending their service to our country only to find that there are no jobs, why on Earth is an intelligent journalist like Brian Mann being caught up in this stupid distraction?

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  14. tootightmike says:

    Turns out, most of the big important issues can only hold a person’s attention for a while. Our governmental processes move forward at a glacial pace…if we had to wait until the social security problem, of poverty got fixed before having an affair, we’d never get laid.
    Real people have real lives…sometimes messy, almost always difficult, but real.
    If you’re really interested in politics, pay attention to the politics.

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  15. JDM says:

    “If you’re willing to put your agenda at risk over a racy photograph, or a dalliance with a campaign worker, what does that say about the agenda itself?”

    That the agenda is nothing more than a Ponzi scheme to finance their misbehavior.

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  16. Mervel says:

    He is caught up in the issue knuckle because people who supposedly care about these issues don’t, they care about their own corruption and pleasures, Edwards, Clinton, Gingrich, Bush, none of them really care they only care about what works for them personally. I would just say that Brian is probably off in that it impacts people of both parties; they are all corrupt.

    Certainly I would rank what Congressman Weiner did way down, compared to what Clinton did which was still above what Kennedy did leaving that poor girl to drown to save his own sorry ass. I mean this is not new stuff on either side of the aisle.

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  17. Mervel says:

    Dave is there anything natural or biological about murder?

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  18. newt says:

    Killing, whether members of other species (e.g. chickens, deer) or our own (see any history book), for gain or self protection, is an extremely natural and biological component of human nature. When this is deemed illegal by by those in control of laws, it is called “murder”.

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  19. Peter Hahn says:

    Mervel – murder is pretty natural.

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  20. Bret4207 says:

    It comes down to character and a moral compass. If you make an oath to someone to do something then you should be doing it, not messing around. If you can’t keep that oath then get divorced. If a politician makes a promise to “us” but can’t keep the promise to his spouse, why should we have any faith in him?

    For the record- people look at other people they find attractive, that’s biology. They may even flirt a little, that’s biology. Not going further is having character enough to abide by proper moral codes and override your biological instincts.

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  21. Glenn L. Pearsall says:

    Brian, I agree with most of these blogs. Why are you and the rest of the media wasting our time with these sex scandal stories when there is so much more important stuff all of us need to focus on? Obama and the Dems don’t seem willing to provide the leadership we need to address our economic mess and the Republicans think cutting taxes is the answer to everything. The media needs to ask the tough questions and help us start a serious dialogue on what needs to be done in regards Medicare, SSI, the deficit, etc.

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  22. JDM says:


    “When corporate America … refuses to hire …”

    Apparently you never ran a large or small business before. You don’t expand (hire) when you don’t know the cost of hiring. You simply don’t expand, even though you could in a better environment.

    Obama has never run anything large or small before, either. (oh, I know, he “ran” his campaign for president – or at least he says he did)

    Obama has proven the shoes he put on are many sizes bigger than the man who is trying to fill them.

    He is not leading. He is overwhelmed. He has failed.

    Corporate America will simply wait this administration out, and hope for a better change after 2012.

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  23. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    JDM, I actually do own a very small business, 2 employees. I choose to keep my business very small because I want to do the work myself and not manage other people.

    I haven’t had a lack of work for about 14 of the 16 years I’ve been in business but instead of hiring workers I subcontract out work that I can’t produce myself to other people I know in the same business. Sometimes those people don’t have enough work for themselves and I find work that I planned to do myself that I can give to them. I have taken work I didn’t want just so that sub it out to other businesses that needed the work. Other times I have recommended the work to others who needed it more than I did. I don’t want them to go out of business; I want the competition. It makes us all better. The better we are the more customers we attract.

    I try to buy as much of the materials I need from local vendors if possible even if they are not the cheapest source (within reason) and I generally pay my bills on receipt. I have developed very good relationships with all my vendors and they often go out of their way to help out with special requests.

    Maybe that is an unorthodox business strategy but it works very well for me and for my competition, vendors and customers. We are all in this together.

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  24. Mervel says:

    But Knuckle no offense, you don’t hire people. That is the issue, business is not hiring because hiring people is becoming more expensive and risky.

    I direct a small NFP. I would love to hire more people but I can’t afford the benefits, I can afford the salaries but my health insurance costs are insane and I honestly believe it is only going to increase more and more, so to hire more people is a huge risk to our agency. When someone comes to us who has benefits through their spouse it is a great advantage to us.

    So if the whole country is subcontracting or delaying hiring people because of these expenses and fear of future high expenses; you get this high unemployment.

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  25. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    I don’t hire people but I help to provide income for people so that they can stay in the jobs they made for themselves. I am a strong advocate for people creating their own jobs and thus lower unemployment and creating a broader-based local economy.

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  26. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Better than a discussion of people’s sex lives we could be having a discussion about the economy/business/spending/saving. We have a system that has not just encouraged people to “save” by “investing” in Wall Street but actually give tax benefit — taking money out of everyone’s pockets — to put their IRA’s or 401k’s into the hands of Wall Street speculators. We have a perpetual Bubble and Bust Machine because there is no place for an individual to save money and make a return even approaches keeping pace with inflation except by funneling cash through the hands on Wall Street.

    And corporations. GM, Exxon/Mobile, Enron…
    We could have a real productive discussion about real issues here.

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  27. JDM says:


    “I don’t hire people but I help to provide income for people so that they can stay in the jobs they made for themselves.”

    That’s fine. Why do you begrudge other companies doing the same.

    If you are making money, according to your view, you should hire some more, whether you think it is a good idea or not. Go ahead. Put two more people on your payroll, just for your civic duty.

    Nevermind where the money will come from to pay them. That’s not the point.

    See how long that flies.

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  28. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    JDM, I understand you think I’m a hypocrite but over the past two or three years that the economy has been in the tank I have NOT tried to save money, I have made an effort to SPEND money at local businesses, restaurants, farmers markets, etc in order to support those jobs.

    Several times I have had other business people who I deal with regularly call and tell me they had no work on the books. They needed work and I gave them some. That was money directly out of my pocket. But I have been in the same situation. After 9/11 my work dried up for several months. January came and I didn’t have money to pay my taxes. I made phone calls to some of my regular customers looking for work. And they helped me out. Sometimes the difference between being in business and not is one sale, one sale to get you through a pinch.

    I don’t begrudge mega-corporations the right to keep SOME extra cash on hand during a recession but I do think that corporations that hold record amounts of cash on hand while at the same time are earning record profits should not be looking to maximize worker productivity at a time that our nation and our people could use some extra jobs. Is that too much to ask?

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  29. Bret4207 says:

    Knuck, it’s not that simple. When you are running a large company of corporation you have responsibilities fat lager than those you lay out. You are responsible to your family and 2 employees. Some big outfit is responsible to the families of all the employees, the BOD, the stockholders, etc. You might have a gazillion dollars you’re sitting on, but if you blow that gazillion dollars by making an unwise choice rather than a conservative choice you could be the cause of all those people, tens of thousands maybe, loosing their livelihood.

    As I understand it the basic problem right now is that things are so fragile and uncertain that it’s just dumb to throw a lot of money into a project with poor chances of a good return. Even major Democrat players are talking about a Depression now, things simply suck economically. The smart thing to do is to hold your cards and see where things are going. No, it doesn’t help boost the economy, it’s not “fair”, but it’s smart.

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  30. Mervel says:

    I think the government should do everything it can to make hiring people easier less costly and less risky for all entities in the US.

    For example the government could waive the requirement for business to pay its portion of the social security tax for all new hires over the next 5 years. It could offer to subsidize private health insurance costs or really provide a good cost effective alternative. It could also remove the unemployment insurance burden that most entities that hire people have to pay.

    Knuckle in your case I think it IS great that you spend your money locally for your business and help other local business. But I am assuming that you don’t add two or three more people because of the expense of benefits, the hassles of having more on your payroll and an uncertain business future. However you can subcontract and avoid all of that. I would like to see small business or entities like ours be able to more easily hire people.

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  31. oa says:

    Medicare for all would take the health benefits problem out of the hands of business people like Mervel and enable them to hire workers.
    But that’s socialism. We’d rather have people get unemployment checks from the government than have socialism.

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  32. Mervel says:

    I agree OA as long as our health, unemployment and retirement systems are tied to employment and particular employers; we have a problem all the way around in my opinion.

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  33. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Okay Bret, if I were head of a major corporation:

    As oa points out one of the first items of business would be to ask the government to provide universal health care. That would take a huge burden off of my business. Of course it would have to be compensated by higher taxes but the rates of taxes are much more predictable than the cost of insurance.

    I would announce that my company was going to start hiring workers. Not a lot to start but an announcement that a Fortune 500 company was starting to hire would have enormous psychological effect on the Markets, and more importantly, in the Press. It would be huge news that would bring goodwill from the buying public. You can’t pay for that kind of advertising.

    Tied to the hiring announcement I would ask that investigations be started into corporations holding onto excess profits. Republicans are all about excess money being held by the government in reserve funds as being the people’s money, well excess profits in the hands of corporations is the shareholder’s money and it should either be put to use in hiring workers, or put into Research and Development, or purchases of new equipment , or used to buy back stock, or it should be returned to shareholders as a dividend.

    I would also demand pay freezes, pay-cuts, and other types of give-backs from upper management — especially if I was head of a corporation like GM that finally admitted about a year ago that they’ve been making crap for product for decades. And if you think I’m not qualified to be the head of GM I can tell you that I knew they made crap decades ago.

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  34. JDM says:


    “I do think that corporations that hold record amounts of cash on hand”

    Think of what could be if only we had an adult in the White House.

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  35. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Mervel, I would like to see more people start their own business.

    I agree with much of what you say about the difficulty of hiring new workers. And it can be worse for some businesses than others depending on the cost of workers comp, insurance, licensing and record keeping requirements.

    I propose that the entire EDC system be revamped. Currently it is essentially a make-work program for people who are trying to shuffle jobs from one community to another, one state to another — basically a huge waste of money.
    What if those EDC people were charged instead with helping very small businesses to start-up and expand? What if, instead of going to conferences around the country trying to convince businesses to move here they held on-going seminars with the intent of finding new business opportunities and entrepreneurs, and providing them with the skills they need to manage and grow their business?

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  36. Bret4207 says:

    Knuck, with all due respect I think sitting here at our keyboards is a lot different than actually running a Fortune 500 company. I’d like to hire a whole mess of people for a business idea I have, but good intentions wouldn’t put me in the black, and that’s what ultimately matters- profit. I’ve helped run 2 businesses into the ground trying to be “nice”, it’s not a viable business plan.

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  37. tourpro says:

    Of course, as we all knew, he did it.

    And like a pack of jackals, the media is eating their own.

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  38. Mervel says:

    What was really sleazy about this little jerk was that he tried to blame the blogger who outed him for hacking his site.

    The cover up is always worse than the actual little creepy thing he did, but it does show that he has no character. Pelosi is right to start and investigation.

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  39. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Well Bret, The first thing you should know about business is that most privately held businesses DO NOT want to make a profit. Making a profit means that you have to pay taxes so you have to make some purchases or give some bonuses and tell your accountant to “fix it.”

    The way that you can tell a successful businessman is that his company has been around forever but he always tells you that his company isn’t making any money.

    Fortune 500 companies are a little different in that they want to make the amount of profit that they predict per reporting period. The amount they want to make is just a little bit more than what the Wall Street analysts say they should make. So every quarter all the managers have to juggle their books to make it look just-so. And it can work pretty well for some time until there is a big downturn. Then you blame market forces beyond your control, burdensome regulations, unfair foreign competition, and an administration that just doesn’t “get it”. Then you pretend you are prepared to resign but offer to see the company through bankruptcy because it would be impossible to find someone with enough understanding of the business for any amount of money. In fact you should get a raise in order to shepherd the business through. You force wage concessions from the unions, raid the pension funds, and fire 35% of the workforce. Wall Street comes up with a new figure for your post-bankruptcy profit and you manage to exceed that number by cooking the books. You promptly pay yourself a bonus of $20 million, you take your stock options and you retire to Florida.

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  40. Bret4207 says:

    Whoa, where are you getting the idea most private businesses don’t want to make a profit? That’s nuts. Do they want to HIDE their profit, oh yeah! But without profit you go bust- period.

    I agree with the scummy rep big business has, but not everyone is that bad.

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  41. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Bret, profit in this context is a very specific thing. It is proceeds less expenses. At the end of the year profits are taxed. But if you can arrange for your expenses to equal your proceeds — and maybe your expenses include a very nice company car to drive and a company sales meeting in Las Vegas — then you don’t have to pay tax on that money.

    Man! you are too honest to be a good businessman. No wonder those businesses failed.

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