There is a quote that goes something like: “Satan, get thee behind me.” That may be imprecisely quoted, but it refers to our ability to resist temptation. A quick review of public figures and ministers may suggest that Satan is still out front, and resistance is low.
The press has reacted with a good deal of moral outrage that the Governor of Illinois has been accused of offering to sell a seat in the United States Senate. I agree that the Governor has performed a stupid, and probably criminal, act. The media, of course, also sells elected offices through advertising. Typically, the candidate who spends the most on advertising wins the election. The difference is the media offers no guarantee of getting elected, whereas the Governor was going to provide a definite Senatorial position in return for the candidate’s dollars. Perhaps the media does not like competition.
Truly, neither major political party is holier than the other, because corruption is widespread in both cases. Usually, the evildoers are caught with one or both hands in the cookie jar, grabbing the money, like the Governor of Illinois, or the Representatives in the House taking bribes from the lobbyists.
The other issue that catches officials with their pants down is they get caught with their pants down. Sexual indiscretions from the Governor of New York, Presidents Clinton and Kennedy, Senator Hart of Colorado, and former Presidential candidate John Edwards reveal the temptations of available women, of which there is an apparently endless supply. In our neighboring state of Idaho, there is a slight twist to the longings of Senator Craig, who paraphrased a musical line from Lawrence Welk, “You Set My Foot to Tapping.” Politicians in Oregon are not necessarily good with temptation, either. It takes no time at all to recall the sexual harassments offered by Senator Packwood, the Gubernatorial desires for babysitters from Neil Goldschmidt, and the newly elected Mayor of our largest city, who enjoys kissing teenage boys, but keeps his baser instincts in check until they turn eighteen.
The only group that remains to set a good example for we poor, benighted heathen is conservative religious leaders like Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggert, and Ted Haggard, who have collaborated on an exciting new book, called “Ministers Do More Than Lay People.” The Catholic brand of Christianity offers their own set of problems, notably the existence of pedophilia in some members of the clergy. There is a group of religious writers afoot who express how disturbed and saddened they are at the fact that there is declining church membership in both Europe and the United States. Gee, I wonder why that is.
I am what my children call “old school.” At least, I think that is what they’re saying. I don’t hear everything plainly, so they might be saying “old fool.” In either event, I am old enough to remember when elected officials and ministers had at least a modicum of character and morality. Those two diseases have apparently been cured.
Dave Rama, writing on the Ides of March.