Thursday, July 23, 2009

Politics: All in the family?

A post by a Florida blogger got me thinking about politicians' families. "Mustang Bobby" of Bark Bark Woof Woof had the following to say about the firing of a Fort Myers Beach employee over his marrying a porn actress:

I'm not going to make any judgments about Ms. Janke's profession and whether or not she contributes to the exploitation and objectification of women. That may easily be, but in this instance -- her husband being fired because of her profession -- it is breathtakingly irrelevant.

The city may have been within its legal rights to terminate Mr. Janke without cause, but sure makes them look like ignorant tight-asses.

The message I take from "Mustang Bobby" is that family issues are irrelevant as to whether not a person in public office gets the job done. His comments got me thinking about Sarah Palin and Michelle Obama. As a reader of "Mustang Bobby", I would say he practices what he preaches, criticizing the skewering of MO and SP here.

But as we know, inordinate attention is paid to the families of people in government. After all, there is some truth in judging a person, in part, by the company they keep. So I don't think its as simple as "Mustang Bobby" lays it out to be.

First, I don't accept Mustang's premise that we ought not judge Mrs. Janke. Pornography is a troubling paradox to society. We recognize some marginal mental health benefits in its consumption, but not all of us can turn a blind eye to the troubling circumstances surrounding the production of nearly all of it. Mrs. Janke is paid to have sex with strangers, plain and simple. Under certain circumstances such arrangements are illegal, artistic license being a limited exception. But the disturbingly troubled lives of people in that industry are well documented. When computer animation advances to the point of photo-realistic portrayal of live people, I'm not sure society wouldn't be better off outlawing most porn production utilizing real actors.

But even if I pass judgment on Mrs. Janke, should that affect my view if I were a taxpayer of Fort Myers Beach? Without much need for thought, I can say that if Michelle Obama were a porn starlet, presently, Barak Obama would never get my vote. I would form the conclusion that he approves of not only porn's consumption, but also its production, which to me would demonstrate poor judgment. Further, as hinted at by Mustang, I would consider such a First Lady an atrocious role model for American girls. Lastly, as a practical matter, America would be a laughing stock.

But the office of President of the United States is not quite the same as town manager of Fort Myers Beach, population 6, 500. But why should the principles involved be any different?

Unlike Mustang, I can't go by a black and white rule on this. I certainly think a person in public office is entitled to a private life. But like all things where other people in society are affected, there have to be limits. I think the bounds of those limits are exceeded when a person in public office decides to marry a "whore" (legal or not). Particularly where the marriage occured after his taking the job, the tax payers aren't exactly getting the public figure they bargained for.

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