Last night, I attended a rally to support Portland's embattled mayor, Sam Adams, and demand he not resign. As I am sure many have heard, Adams has gotten caught in a lie. During his election, he was accused of an inappropriate relationship with a young man he may or may not been mentoring. At the time, Adams denied this relationship. Last week, the facts emerged that at one time they were lovers, and Adams admitted that he had lied. I completely understand how this hurts his credibility, including making it harder to accept his insistence that the man was of legal age at the time of their actual affair.
Yet, I fail to see the relevance of this in terms of his ability to perform his duties as Mayor. Essentially, I think the public that does care and who feeds on this kind of scandal needs one collective call to "grow up." Who among us hasn't had things in our private life that might make our co-workers react in surprise, but that ultimately has no bearing on how we do our work? Would you think it fair if you were suddenly unemployed for what you did at a nightclub last Friday?
I have written to Sam Adams and the Portland City Commissioners, a blanket statement that goes as follows:
To all of the representatives in Portland government:
Don't let a disingenuous, opportunistic media push you into making a decision that is wrong for our city. At a time of crisis in our country, on the precipice of a new era, why should we validate the dinosaurs of if-it-bleeds-it-leads journalism for carrying on with business as usual? History has shown us that these kinds of scandals and mistakes don't matter in terms of a politician serving in his office. How many of us now look back at the Bill Clinton scandals and see the witch hunt as productive, proper, or even remotely relevant? Such a shame that reporters didn't spend as much time watching the Bush administration lead us down so many wrong roads as they did wondering who was sleeping with whom.
Given the current state of our economy, shutting down the city while everyone scratches their heads and debates over this issue is in service to no one. The voting public has already said that Sam Adams can do the job, and I believe the majority of us intends to hold him to it. Likewise, we elected the city commission to do a job, and you folks all need to stop bickering and get down to business, as well. How you act now is not only vital to our community, but vital to your future as our public servants. No one elected the Oregonian and the Tribune and the other press outlets to speak for the people, we elected you. In fact, their sales figures likely speak to how far from being the voice of the public they now are, and one hopes the populace has not rewarded their efforts to manipulate this situation by paying to read their swill.
Enough debate, enough indecision. Let's move on.
You can do the same. Here are the e-mail addresses:
Support Sam Adams on Facebook
Sam is Still My Mayor Blog
Marc Acito in defense of Sam Adams
The Portland Mercury: Why Adams Should Stay
I recently had a conversation with a long-standing friend regarding the change in our Presidency and our cautious optimism as Barack Obama moves into the White House. My friend mentioned how conservatives such as himself were disenchanted by the "graying morality" of the Clinton years, and it struck me that here we had the fundamental disconnect of our two different ways of thinking. For me, the Bush years represented a much more insidious graying of morality, from the lies that lead us into Iraq (which should far outdistance lies about bedroom antics) to the no-bid contracts for companies the administration was connected to, from torture and Gitmo to the financial and ethics scandals of people like Tom DeLay, all the way to the treasonous outing of a CIA agent and the distortion of the truth and to the invasion of Americans' privacy through wiretapping--is not this all more grave than what is done between two adults? Which one personally affects you?
When I saw Frost/Nixon last week, I was surprised by the obvious parallels between Nixon and Bush. Forgetting Watergate, Nixon also created evidence to justify his going into Cambodia. He also illegally surveilled American citizens. It made me realize that it was as a result of Nixon's betrayal that we, as a public, started to accept that politicians were corrupt and shruggingly declared, "What are you going to do?" This has lead us to be complacent, has caused us not to fight back, because "Why bother?" It's a sad state of affairs. At one point, people did bother and Nixon was run out of office. I don't recall if anyone ever asked if Richard Nixon had ever received a blow job; there was just too much that mattered more.
And it's the same now. Foreign wars, a dismal economy, a failing education system--these things matter more. These things should have more sway in deciding if qualified men should stay in office than what they do in their off-duty life. On my way to the rally for Mayor Adams, I crossed through a demonstration crying out for peace in Gaza, a handful of people compared to the large numbers I had seen a week ago making an intense, impassioned plea for peace just a week before. Hundreds were outside City Hall asking our city to get back to work, while only a few were now left to demand less death and conflict. Really? Is that not backwards?
Which matters more?
To end on a lighter note, I point you to Patton Oswalt's "Dukes of Hazzard" routine, a comedic diatribe that puts it all into perspective. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the clip on its own, but you can hear it on YouTube as part of this file. Jump ahead to the 8-minute mark.
(c) 2009 Jamie S. Rich