A couple of new links today, including a report that Sam Adams says he will not resign.
The Portland Arts Community's Open Letter in Defense of Sam.
Personally, I find it significant that a noted comics creator has been asked to participate and lend his name to this. Assuming that's the Craig Thompson I know and adore, the creator of Good Bye, Chunky Rice and Blankets.
I think this point is particularly important:
"Mayor Adams has apologized to the citizens of Portland, and acknowledged that his actions have damaged his relationship with us. He has indicated clear understanding that to regain that trust with many people, even in some measure, will require hard work ahead."
For an alternative point of view, however, my friend Plastorm has at his blog a new post called "Nothing Shocking."
Fair points, sure. I didn't mean to suggest that Sam Adams should get by scott-free, that there should be no consequences for his actions, though I do realize cries of "Grow up and move on" does sort of imply this. I've thought about this more since writing yesterday, and I can't get get past the fact that there has to be more to our ability to punish our politicians than either just ignoring their transgressions or the "quit or we'll fire you" routine. There has to be a more measured response. The latter doesn't even make way for the accused to get a fair day in court; instead, it attempts to circumvent a full hearing as that would presumably be a lengthy and costly affair. But as lengthy and costly as having to find a replacement in an unscheduled election? Which will hurt the city more in the long run? (Granted, a trial that ends in impeachment doubles up on the fun.)
It also sends the message that this kind of sex scandal--which is most likely going to prompt a lie out of anyone caught in one, let's be real--is a legitimate mode of attack. Lest we forget, these accusations surfaced when Sam Adams' opponent raised them to try to knock him out of the election. Did the media not do their due diligence on the issue then because it was any less of a valid accusation? Did we all turn a blind eye to the accusation because nobody wanted the guy leveling it to clear the way to get into office? Who knows? The fact that a gay politician was being accused of sex with an underage man struck me as the same kind of hatemongering that cleared the path for George W. Bush in 2000 when he knocked out McCain with accusations of an illegitimate black baby. Both times, the worst of our reasoning (or, really, lack thereof) was being appealed to in order for a guy who couldn't get through based on policy or the issues to climb past the opposition. It was a cynical play, and a portion of the citizenry fell into it. And I don't think that just because the accusing opponent now turns out to be at least partially right that his motivation for starting the fuss should now be whitewashed any more than Adams should be getting a clean slate.
Sure, I'm disappointed in Sam Adams. He's supposed to be the best of us, but instead, in his response to this situation, I wouldn't say he turned out to be the worst, but probably the most average. I voted for him because I think he can do better, and I stand by that because I think he still can. Is there some kind of political probation? Give him time to get it together, and if he doesn't, then kick him out? If not, then are the voters really getting a say at all?
As a postscript, I do think that the left-leaning among us that got a chuckle out of Larry Craig being arrested in a public bathroom or Mark Foley texting dirty messages to his underage intern should maybe reconsider how we react to such things in the future, and consider how thin our justifications of various illegalities and on-the-job abuses may be before crying for another man's head. When it happens to our guy, we demand nuance and sober reflection; when it happens to the other side, it's cut-and-dried, hilarious, and humiliating. As always, one finger points ahead, three point back.
(c) 2009 Jamie S. Rich