All jokes about Govern Jindal’s Kennethesque speech aside, Gail Collins poses an important question:
Louisiana has gotten $130 billion in post-Katrina aid. How is it that the stars of the Republican austerity movement come from the states that suck up the most federal money? Taxpayers in New York send way more to Washington than they get back so more can go to places like Alaska and Louisiana. Which is fine, as long as we don’t have to hear their governors bragging about how the folks who elected them want to keep their tax money to themselves. Of course they do! That’s because they’re living off ours.
Her op-ed piece “The Dead Tree Theory” makes smart observations about the “wasteful spending” Republicans so like to point in debates about the budget.
Maybe it’s because I learned about politics in Louisiana. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in the military. Or it’s possible that I’ve spent my entire adult life with and around male academics. And let’s not mention the male artists I have known. For whatever reason, I am not the slightest bit surprised by Blagojevich’s unethical conduct and haven’t been even a little bit distracted by his public performances and analogies, including comparing his struggle to Pearl Harbor. I don’t doubt for a minute that he’s delusional; it just doesn’t surprise me. After all, in college, I new a guy who told anyone who would listen that he had a strong feeling he was going to die at 33. This sense of doom impressed people, especially women. My response when he told me, sorrowfully but with a very stiff upper lip, was, “really. 33? Like Jesus? Puhleeeze!”* Before you feel sorry for him, you should know that despite my caustic response, he was quite popular with the ladies. I mean they seriously dug him.
And that’s the thing.
Deluded, self-aggrandizing men appeal to…well almost everyone. We rely on these men, build entire shows around them (“House” comes to mind almost immediately), and every truly nice guy I know has watched otherwise sane women throw themselves at the Blagojevichs of the world. This isn’t to say that what Captain Hair did was legal or ethical. He should be removed from office, but all this shock and awe seems out of place. Our culture valorizes men like Blagojevich; hell, we elect them all the time. And his over-the-top self-defense is perfectly consistent with our culture where no one admits they’re wrong, have lied, and should step down. Being bold even when wrong is a mainstay of American “cowboy” culture.
Having spent so much time around men like this, I understand the syllogism at work:
I am a good person
Good people don’t do bad things Nothing I do is bad
Or, to be more precise:
Politicians and other delusional men may make mistakes but only do so for the greater good
I am a delusional politician Whatever I did was for the greater good
I’m glad he’s gone, but I hope Illinois, collectively, goes to see a therapist to figure out why the state keeps electing dishonest and stupidly arrogant governors. Seriously. From a girl who had her political awakenings in a state where “Vote for the Crook” was the motto of a gubernatorial election (Convicted Felon Edwin Edwards vs. Klansman David Duke), I speak with a special authority.
In case you missed his closing argument, here it is:
*The guy has lived well past 33 and is married with at least one child.