Days of Change

Day 385 – Glass Houses

November 24, 2009

I can destroy you.

Given enough time, resources and media attention, I can make you look like an awful human being. Most of the time I can do it by exaggerating the truth. Rarely will I have to resort to outright lying.

When I consider this, I don’t think about Joe the Plumber or Richard Jewell, I think of Herb Tarlek. An episode of WKRP was my first childhood lesson in character assassination. In an episode within an episode, Herb applied to be on a show called “Real Families.” Before tabloid TV or fame whoring, he wanted to be on a national TV program. That program, in turn, learned that getting ratings was a matter of digging into a family’s life and exposing the less desirable aspects.

It’s surprisingly easy to twist anything unseemly into a moral failure. I have things that could effectively discredit me. Jackass was largely free of this problem because of two things. He had very little in the way of a paper trail and a media that was unwilling to be labeled racist or do anything to disparage the man-child. No one has seen his medical records, college transcripts or birth certificate (yep, I wrote that. electrons do not equal paper). He has no friends or acquaintances with personal anecdotes. No one talks about the gay bars he went to as a state senator in Chicago while at the same time never attending a gay pride parade (I wrote that, too).

One blogger I read tends to take the moral high ground on people she doesn’t like. Christian conservatives who have affairs get rough treatment. Every politician is greedy or immoral. And if one does something she especially likes, they’re off the hook.

The fact is that politicians are cogs in a machine. They are not paragons of virtue. They are not gods. You hire them to do a job. If they don’t do it, you fire them. Right now, job #1 is stopping this Jackass. Any other complaint is like throwing stones in a glass house.

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