Saturday, April 29, 2006

Sex Sells

Posted originally as a comment at Balloon Juice.

I suspect that of all the scandals out there, this is the one that’ll do the worst damage to the Republicans this cycle. For what it’s worth, I think it’s not the most threatening to the nation. I am angry at officials taking bribes, and I’m concerned about the potential blackmail
issue in national security positions, but other than that it’s not as dangerous as the NSA or the outing of the CIA agent who appears to have been responsible for intel about middle eastern (to include Iran) nuclear capabilities or the decision that torture’s ok or the ability to ignore habeus corpus or all the other things that can be wrapped up in “the unitary executive” position.

All that said, again I think it’s the most devastating. And the reason is that sex sells. Ask most people in the US what the main point of Clinton’s impeachment was about and they’ll talk about the illicit sex – it was about Monica. (Oh, yes, it was about lying – lying about Monica and the illicit sex.)

Every congresscritter who has been in that hospitality suite over the last 15 years – of both parties – is going be tarred with this brush. So too will any administration official or appointee who’s been through those doors. “I was only there for the poker, then I left early,” will be true of some but heard from many. And legally many will get away with it. Politically, however, it’s going to make the case for the Democrats. “Republicans, the party of corruption” is the battle cry. And corruption can be accepted if the party’s competent, but we’ve got Iraq and Katrina and the slow recovery and a host of other things that say things just aren’t doing so well.

No, this is the one that’s going to make the public take notice – it’ll be the seed crystal that makes the whole batch come together against the GOP this year. Yes, some Democrats are going to be in the mix, but the Dems aren’t in power and the Dems aren’t the ones who’ve displayed (or at least appeared to display) arrogance and incompetence. The GOP defenders will name a name – a Mollohan – desparately trying to claim that one balances a host of others – a Ney and a Cunningham and a Delay and …

Last week I thought the Dems still could fail to take either much less both houses of Congress. Now, I think the GOP will have their work cut out to keep either house. And it’s all because this lesser scandal includes sex.

And sex sells.


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