Anthony Weiner & Co: When Politicians Suffer From Feverish Fame
Rep. Anthony Weiner. There's No Stopping Him...Yet
I have heard it said that in many cases, professional athletes really want to be rappers and rock stars. Actors and actresses want to be politicians. And as for politicians, some of them behave as if they want to be all of the above.
What other explanation could there be for all the curious cases of the cult of political celebrity? Why do some politicians say the things they do? I think they have a fever.
To be fair, "famous fever" is highly contagious – and can be contracted by Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike. An outbreak can occur in any state, anytime. To quote the classic show The X-Files, “The truth is out there.”
Consider the case of Anthony Weiner. He was a US Congressman (D-NY) who represented the 9th district of the Empire State. A potentially promising career in politics was severely derailed when he was forced to resign from Congress in disgrace in 2011 because of the fallout from his sexting scandal.
To make matters even worse, his wife – Huma Abedin, a highly regarded Democrat in her own right – was pregnant at the time. Less than two years after his political fall from grace, Mr. Weiner announced his candidacy for New York City’s mayoral race this past May. His comeback story seemed to be gathering real momentum until a few weeks ago.
That’s when a barrage of news reports made it necessary for Mr. Weiner to publicly acknowledge that he continued to send explicit photos of himself to women he hardly knew even after his resignation from Congress. One of these women has begun to share her story – and his nude photos – with various media outlets.
Meanwhile, Mr. Weiner’s adamant refusal to even consider bowing out of the NYC mayoral race is a growing embarrassment to the Democratic Party in general; and to President Bill and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in particular because Mr. Weiner’s wife Huma Abedin continues to serve as a longtime personal aide to Mrs. Clinton. Whenever he’s asked about his inability to stop indulging in such dubious behavior, the former Congressman simply states that his abnormal sexual tendencies are old news. Mr. Weiner, you see, has famous fever.
Consider the case of Steve King. Mr. King is the current US Representative (R-IA) representing Iowa’s 4th Congressional district. In the last 10 years, Mr. King has established himself as being an outspoken fiscal conservative, a tireless proponent of individual gun rights, and someone who suffers from foot-in-mouth disease.
Mr. King drew national notice while defending Congressman Todd Akin’s (R-MO) infamous “legitimate rape” statements. In 2008, Mr. King said of then-Senator Barack Obama: “If he is elected president, then… al-Qaida, the radical Islamists and their supporters, will be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on September 11.”
During a July 18th interview with Newsmax TV, Mr. King said of the children of undocumented Mexican immigrants: “For everyone who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds – and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
When Newt Gingrich himself publicly states that you’ve gone too far, things have truly gone sideways. It’s not a mystery as to why Congressman King tweeted on May 3rd of this year that he will not be seeking reelection in 2014. The only mystery is when and how he caught a serious case of famous fever.
Do our elected leaders occasionally say outlandish things simply to garner attention? When asked about their cringe-worthy comments by the media, why do some politicians either deny saying them or simply claim misquotation? Do they actually believe what they say; or is a more sinister plan at work?
Perhaps the goal isn’t to do their very best to look out for their constituents. Maybe certain Governors, Senators, and Members of Congress just want the national spotlight – with all the privileges therein: money, power, and respect.
Why should political figures sincerely apologize for outrageous comments when they can instead show up, sell out, and get paid for their verbal hypothermia?
Keep that in mind the next time you see your Senator sitting courtside at an NBA game. Remember that whenever your Congressman is on late night TV being interviewed by David Letterman. I’ll ponder this when next I see certain elected officials emerging from Lear jets wearing designer eyewear and mega-watt smiles.
Precisely what is my representative representing? Is it me – or the money? We need an antidote for famous fever, stat. Is there a doctor in the house?
The Reverend Arthur L. Jones, III is an ordained Baptist Minister, featured weekly Democratic Op-Ed columnist, non-profit advisor, and sees the Atlanta Braves winning it all this fall. Rev. Jones welcomes your comments! Please email him directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org