Is it easier to destroy conservative career politicians than ruin the lives of liberal Democrats? We like to complain about media bias and railroading, but the press is not always as forgiving of the left as we like to think. In Illinois we delight in watching Democrats fall down hard. Jesse Jackson Jr. and Rod Blagojevich took well-earned beatings at the hands of the media, as did Republican ex-governor and ex-con George Ryan before them (see: Why Illinois Should Reward Political Corruption). Even Barack Obama is not quite the media darling he used to be. When it comes to choosing between backing a politician and dishing up some dirt on something like the Benghazi scandal, the dirt is always going to come first.
Political dirt is an American tradition as ingrained as railroading career politicians. Still, when it comes to getting that blood and guts media feeding frenzy started there is nothing to get the water boiling like a conservative politician who might have made a mistake. We are watching it happen right now in New Jersey as Chris Christie tries to separate himself from a potentially career-ending traffic jam. Oddly enough, Chicago recalled the anniversary of its own politically ruinous traffic problem this week, the January 1979 snowstorm that brought everything to a dead stop and took down Mayor Michael Bilandic.
Is attacking conservative career politicians more fun for the public and the press because being a member of the right implies a higher standard, even for a questionably Republican governor like Christie, or do we just expect less from Democrats? Even when they get caught with their hands in the public till it seems like less of a crime. When it comes to moral scandals the standards we hold conservatives to make it surprising they can even have children.
In all honesty, most Americans are not very fond of politicians and railroading a public figure for making an errant remark or being too close to some sort of dark political treachery like New Jersey’s bridge scandal can be just as enjoyable for the public as it is for the media. Is that why we are so eager to indulge the American tradition of destroying politicians before they have been found guilty of wrongdoing and when we have sparse grounds for suspicion? They do have some bad habits:
Politicians tell us what we need.
They tell us what we should do.
They tell us how to behave.
They decide how to spend our money whether we like their choices or not.
They refuse to accept blame or responsibility for their mistakes.
They put themselves on impossibly high moral ground.
… and after watching them not do what they tell us we must, when opportunity suddenly falls at our feet and we find a weakness, we embrace an American tradition and eagerly destroy political careers by lapping up everything we hear from the press. The ironic part is that we act as if we expect a higher standard from public figures but eagerly embrace the slightest possibility that they are wallowing with the pigs. Then we let the lowbrow, lowest common denominator media impose their own standards upon us.