Elliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner are just two low-grade amoral politicians who abused their offices during the past few years. Spitzer abused his position as Governor of New York to rack up some $87,000 in payouts to high-end call girls. Weiner used his position as a U.S. Congressman to mail out photographs of his naked genitals to supposed female admirers. Both men were married at the time. Both wives – in Lady Macbeth roles of career advancement – followed the appalling example of Hillary Clinton in standing by their men. Both Spitzer and Weiner initially lied about their behavior. Both ultimately were nailed, and resigned their positions. But not for long. Like Gary Hart, following his Monkey-Business debacle, they are both running again.
Fifty years ago, in the spring and summer of 1963, an English scandal erupted involving John Profumo, Secretary of State for War in the government of Harold Macmillan. Profumo, aged 48, had become involved with a loose set of people who gathered at Clivedon, the country estate of the Astor family. At a pool party, hosted by the society doctor, he met a young woman, 19-year old Christine Keeler, who was either a dancer or prostitute, depending on who one spoke to. They commenced an affair, which was over by 1962. Keeler was romantically involved, during that period, with Yevgeny Ivanov, the Soviet Naval attache assigned to London. All mature adults were aware that such a person must be a Soviet spy.
Profumo was caught out, and lied, just like Spitzer and Weiner. On the advice of his movie-star wife, he then came clean and resigned his position. Profumo – humiliated on every front page as an adulterer, a liar and a war minister who consorted with enemy spies – was finished. What would he now do? Surely he never stood for public office again. Profumo, unlike Spitzer and Weiner, had a conscience. He wanted to repay his moral debt to England.
He removed himself to a poor, run-down settlement house, called Toynbee Hall, in the East End of London.There he engaged in social work of the lowest order, washing dishes and cleaning toilets. He visited prisons for the criminally insane, helped with housing for the poor, and worker education. This was not for show. he worked at Toynbee Hall in that manner for the following 40 years, until he was 88 years of age.
Now there is a real man whose wife should be proud to stand by him. When he died in 2006, at the age of 91, the front pages of all Britain’s newspapers wrote about him with respect, even awe. He had truly redeemed himself, through humility and genuine public service.
When I view photographs of Spitzer and Weiner cavorting before the media with no sign of humility or conscience, it makes me want to vomit. For I know full well what they were, still are, and will be for the remainder of their wretched lives.
“When they caught him makin’ whooppee
And the campaign had to cease
Gary went into seclusion
He just had to find some peace.
He’s been out in Colorado
Since I can’t remember when
But he must be gettin’ horny
Cause he’s runnin’once again.
So he’s running into the Politics Game
Yes, he running into the politics game
Warren Beatty told him ‘lookie’
You can get a lot of nookie
If you get into the politics game.
John Denver, The Ballad of Gary Hart.
Hat Tip: Peggy Noonan, ‘How to Find Grace After Disgrace’, The Wall Street Journal, July 13, 2013