Gavin Newsom, Playboy
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is in trouble. He has admitted that, while in the middle of a divorce, he had an affair with a staffer. As if that wasn't enough of a jerk move, the staffer in question was the wife of his campaign manager. All of this is hot on the heels of a mini scandal last fall in which Newsom was dating a 20-year-old Paris Hilton look alike who he probably bought alcohol for. Now, in what seems like a new tradition for celebrities caught with the cookies, Newsom is claiming to have a drinking problem. Apparently, alcoholism causes everything from infidelity to homosexuality to making racist comments. Who knew.
Personally, I don't care that much that Newsom is clearly a jerk who can't keep his dick in his pants. Just as I didn't care that Bill Clinton was playing around with Monica, I worry that we've gone too far as a society in scruitinizing the private lives of public figures. I don't vote for people to be moral symbols.
However, I think it is a lot easier for me to shrug off these sorts of things as a man. I would think twice about voting for someone who made racist or sexist comments off the cuff, as Governor Schwarzenegger has on numerous occasions. Such things are, in a way, a window into their view of the world. Why should I be any less bothered by Newsom's behavior? It seems possible that Newsom's view of women is something less than solidaristic. I'm not implying that infidelity is an exclusively male or sexist event, it's just that in Newsom's case there seems to be a pattern of viewing women as conquests and arm candy.
What is clear, however, is that Newsom should have known better. There were (are) a lot of hopes riding on him. Personally, I've been impressed with his creativity when it comes to social policy, as well as his loyalty to the party at the state level. While legislative leaders lined up to stab Phil Angelides in the back, Newsom held the line. This might have been a function of his own palace strategies vis a vis rival (and admitted adulterer) Antonio Villaraigosa, but that's to be expected. The point is that he has been a good mayor and was a rising star in the California Democratic Party. To the extent that this weakens him as a leader, it was wildly irresponsible.
You don't see female leaders doing such stupid things, and that's the point here. When women get to positions of power, it is generally through a hell of a lot of hard work, and they seem to take seriously how much is riding on them in terms of resources and hopes. Men seem to take power for granted, willing to squander it on stupid things like laying their camaign manager's wife. Women can be just as stupid, blinkered and self centered as men, but they do seem less likely to be quite so arrogant.
Health Care Blindspot
John Edwards released his health care reform plan today. It claims to be a universal plan, and, like the Governor's will require health insurance just as most states require car insurance. What's screwy about both Edwards' and Arnolds' schemes, however, is that they are built around a complex system of subsidies to insurance companies, outlays from citizens and employer mandates. It remains a gigantic mystery to me that we keep debating these arcane and piecemeal proposals in an age in which the US auto industry is paying more for health care than steel, in which a majority of the population favors universal coverage, and in which everyone seems to be begging for a "bold" policy iniative on the part of the Democrats. All of this, but real universal health care is still off the table.
The only mainstream voice I hear speaking the sensible truth about health care is Al Gore. At press time, however, Gore isn't running for office.
Speaking of Arnold's plan, I found it amusing that so much was made of the Governor's Austrian background as a reason for his commitment to universal health care. "I guess it's a cultural thing", the Governor said. He was just "used" to having health care coverage in Austria.
This is hilarious coming from the guy who said that leaving gray, "socialistic" Austria to come to the freedom of Richard Nixon's America was inspiring.
It's not a cultural thing, Arnold. Your friends in the Republican Party have been fighting universal health care since the 1930's. Like you, they've attacked it and everything they don't like as anti-freedom and pro-socialist.
It's all just so Alanis Morissett-style "ironic".
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