Sex vs. Money: Sex Makes The Front Page; Money Counts.
My first reaction was that the seemingly endless GOP of sexual-bigotry-fail is becoming regular enough to resemble how I remember the what the DJ back home in the Bay Area said about the weather for six months at a time: “Coastal fog, extending inland night and morning, clearing by midday.”* And then the announcer would continue, “Oh, and you can tell its spring: Mr. and Mr. Joe and James Doe called in this A.M. to report the first sighting of a Republican politician up in the Castro in full seasonal plumage: chaps, suspenders and not much else.”
OK — I made that last part up, but you get the idea.
Which is to say that I’ve almost completely stopped paying attention to GOP “family values” guys’ same-sex stumbles. Mayor Greg Davis (R) of Southaven, Miss is certainly in a heap of trouble, all of it of his own making. The hypocrisy involved is nauseating, but surplus to requirements. The actual governance of those involved so often contains more than ample evidence of the gap between rhetoric and action that one’s outrage circuits should trip long before we get to the queston of where the parties of the second part place their genitals.
I can’t say I’m entirely immune to the joys of schadenfreude, though. When those most determined to crush the everyday happiness of others get caught, I do chortle a bit. It’s not kind, I know: all sorts of folks get hurt by the toxic collision of the closet and ambitions at odds with one’s self. But still, I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t break out a malicious grin.
This latest case, though, reminds me why that’s such a treacherously easy response. There’s a reason I don’t care about politician’s sex lives. It lies hidden in plain sight in this fact in the report on Mayor Davis:
Greg Davis, the Republican mayor of Southaven, Miss., is embroiled in a spending scandal after state auditors requested receipts for $170,000 (U.S.) in improper charges he made to the city.
That’s the nub of the story. Mississippi state officials found that Davis stole a ton of money from a town of fewer than 50,000 people.
That his spending spree included “a $67 charge at a store called Priape, which bills itself as “Canada’s premiere gay lifestyle store and sex shop,” is hardly the point. Rather, it is that this politician used his power to rob the citizens he allegedly served. His friends and those from whom he derived power got to share in some fine meals. (Davis is reported to be a good tipper, which I suppose is a mark in his favor, even if it was OPM that fueled his generosity.) There was mention of pineapple mojitos — an aesthetic error I might forgive in a friend, but not here.
And, oh yeah, one register slip for some sex toy that set him (or rather Southaven) back about .04% of the total he misappropriated.
Politicians of all parties get caught up in this sort of thievery, of course; it’s only the gay/family values thing that is distinctively a trope for the modern GOP. But I’ll go all partisan and mean here and say that the belief that government exists not to govern, but to transfer wealth from public to private hands is clearly a GOP crusade these days.
So if simple corruption knows no party — and it doesn’t, I’ll say again — this case reminds me that the legal corruption of our politics these days does make that distinction. Democrats are hardly blameless — not when you look at the inadequacy of the assignment of risk and loss in the banking and housing crisis, for example. But their sins are venial to the mortal ones with which the Republican party seems bent on for just one example, raising middle class taxes to preserve the tax advantages of the rich.
So, yeah, I’m still grinning about the petard explosion that has lifted the miserable Mayor Davis off the deck. But it’s a distraction, and as such more useful to the GOP than to those fighting to reclaim even a sliver of public space from those who would rob my son of what his father enjoyed as if by right.
*I swear. I thought the scene in L.A. Story where the Steve Martin character pre-records the weather report was, in fact, industry practice in my part of the world. Boston, as they say, is different.
Image: John James Audubon, American Robin c. 1832.