"Mean Betty truly wants to know: Why can't they be more CLEVER and DISCREET about their infidelities? Is that really too much to ask? Whether it's that pathetic anti-prostitution crusader Eliot Spitzer being caught with a hooker, or this latest yokel Governor Sanford with his caliente mistress down Argentina way - one really does have to wonder how they managed to land themselves in office in the first place." - BettyConfidential.com
I hate to be mean, Betty, but the answer to your question is pretty obvious.
They land in office because we pay more attention to Jon & Kate, Angelina & Brad, Britney Spears or just about any bit of B-list celebrity gossip than we do to the people who run our country, our states, our cities or even our schools.
They don't have to be clever or discreet because most of the time they don't get caught. They know we're not paying attention. And let's face it, we're only paying attention now because the guy got caught with his pants down. The stuff that he did with his clothes on does not have the same hold on our 10-second attention span, though I can pretty much guarantee, Betty, that more people got screwed.
There is a price to be paid for our national obsession with celebrity gossip, scandalous sex and 5-minute makeovers. Because while it might be fun to engage in a little drive-by badmouthing, it surely does not encourage any sort of thoughtful debate of the stuff that matters. Meanwhile, the journalists who actually do the work of trying to hold some of these dumbshits accountable are being told their services are no longer required. You want to know why Betty? Because it's so much easier to just click on some gossipy website and read the recycled version, extra snark please - and hold the attribution. It's not your fault, Betty. You never claimed to be The New York Times. And god knows how depressing that can be.
It's just that I worry that the public officials who decide everything from what our fourth-graders will be required to learn to how much it will cost us in taxes to pay for the legal bills they run up fighting our efforts to see how they are spending our money, won't take us seriously anymore.
Your readers are outraged that Jon & Kate got a lot of free stuff. But what would happen, I wonder, if you told them that in Wheaton, Ill., a school district so hard up for cash that it considered cutting fourth-grade orchestra, workbooks and intramural sports programs, spent $62,000 fighting to keep its $380,000 a year contract with its school superintendent secret? They fought the case for four years, Betty, all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court - before being told that, uh, that's public money you're spending, morons; you can't keep it a secret from the public.
Can you imagine how pissed off your readers would be to learn that?
Still, government goes on in secret all over the place. The Wheaton Warrenville school board struggles to "maintain financial stability" in the face of "significant financial challenges" that may or may not include paying its lawyers to keep things secret. What else don't we know? Raise your hand if you know how much you are paying your own schools superintendent. Anyone? Who will bother to find out when the newspapers are gone and we are left with nothing but gossip for our news?
Want to know who's really getting fucked, Betty? We all are. And we probably deserve it.
Photo: Jon and Kate Somebody doing something. Who Cares?