Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Segments of a Scandal

Bruce Sterling has an intriguing post over at Wired on the nature of centipedes and political scandal. As he defines them, "'Centipedes' are covert conspiracies meant to drive politicians from power by creating moral panics."

Going through all the necessary elements of a centipede-style character assassination, it's remarkably consistent with what you've seen in the downfalls of Evangelical Pastor Ted Haggard, Florida Representative Mark Foley, or - most recently - former New York Governor Eliott Spitzer. Even in other attempts at character assassination like the most obvious, Bill Clinton in the 90s.

What Sterling doesn't get into quite as much is why certain attempts fail. When you compare former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey to Senator Larry Craig, or Spitzer to Senator David Vitter, well, it's not simply a matter of IOKIYAR. (Although that's a big part of it.)

It's also that there isn't the media and message machine in place on the left that there is on the right to drive the nail in the coffin of Republicans once these sorts of scandals break. Part of this, I would imagine, is that there isn't the same sense of moral outrage on the left that would drive people to make hay over what are, essentially, common moral failings. For example, look at how quickly Senator John McCain's lobbyist love affair faded out of the news versus the research still going on into Spitzer's love life. And so, where he and McGreevey can be driven from office successfully, you still have Craig and Vitter - hypocrites that they are - serving on the Senate floor.


Bradda said...

Take it easy on Craig, he just has a wide stance when he pees. No biggie there. Vitter, well, he likes to wear diapers. Who doesn't?

Randal Graves said...

Sex is, well, sexy. Lobbyists aren't. The monolithic left, that is corrupting the youth of America as I type, rightly doesn't get as pissed off about someone fucking on the side as it does about dropping bombs on someone's house or ignoring a natural disaster at home, but it MUST start to have a better machine to point out the hypocrisy of the wingnuts.

Since there isn't one, it's so easy for the left to be branded the hypocrites. "Hey, that's a personal matter!"

It is, but when you're trumpeting some bullshit that you yourself never even attempt to follow, you should be called out on it. After you finish in the stall. We'll wait.

Dr. Zaius said...

Interesting. I had not heard of that.