I’ve always thought being in politics required a certain degree of shamelessness.
You have to be able to embrace an opponent you just spent the primary campaign trashing as an unfit human being.
You have to be able to flip-flop on an issue when the pressure gets too great while pretending there’s no change at all.
You have to be able to take credit for things you had nothing to do with and deflect scandal by saying there’s nothing to see here.
But lately, we have shamelessness on steroids.
The bar just seems to be way lower than ever before on what constitutes acceptable discourse.
National Review’s Jay Nordlinger has a riff on this. Bill Clinton “brazened out his scandals,” he reminds us. Who can forget him assuring the country that “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” or expounding on the meaning of “is” before a grand jury.
Nearly two decades later, it was Donald Trump and the “Access Hollywood” tape, the “grab ’em” language and talk of how “I moved on” a married woman.
“If Republican voters blinked, they didn’t blink twice. And Trump was elected.
Can a Republican presidential nominee pay hush money to a porn actress, and hush money to a Playboy bunny, and emerge unscathed? Emerge adulated?” Nordlinger’s answer is yes.
Then he gets around to Herschel Walker, the Senate nominee in Georgia, for the four children born to four different women, the alleged abortion payment, “the fabrications, etc.” Yet “I’m not sure the revelations about the candidate will affect a single vote.” GOP senators Rick Scott and Tom Cotton campaigned for Walker in Georgia yesterday.
Nordlinger concedes his concerns may sound a bit old-fashioned. “When you speak of right and wrong — to say nothing of shame — you are apt to be accused of ‘virtue signaling,’ ‘moral preening,’ and whatever else has shown up in the lexicon lately. But accusations are a dime a dozen, and if you can’t stand the accusations, get out of the kitchen.”
Or just deny them. Or blame the mendacious media.
But shamelessness is not limited to folks in the political realm. It is regularly practiced by tycoons, athletes, big-shot pundits and all manner of celebrities.
After posting his “death con 3” attack on “JEWISH PEOPLE,” did the Man Formerly Known As Kanye apologize, soften, explain his ugly rant? Nope, Ye did not.
But Elon Musk posted this: “Talked to ye today & expressed my concerns about his recent tweet, which I think he took to heart.” Is that going to be his approach to content moderation? Could keep him busy.
Musk himself, while building several successful companies, provides a world-class example of shamelessness. First he made what he depicted as a transformational bid for Twitter (after texting with a few tech bros, we now know). Then he said he’s backing out, citing the somewhat flimsy reason that the company has too many bots.
And then, realizing he was going to lose the litigation, Musk says he’ll again buy the social media giant for the original price of $44 billion. It’s kinda dizzying.
Now we have Brett Favre, the legendary former quarterback, speaking out for the first time about the scandal that has enveloped him in Mississippi.
Documents show $5 million in state welfare funds were diverted to a volleyball stadium at the University of Southern Mississippi, where Favre’s daughter played on the team. The ex-NFL star was also paid for speeches he never delivered. The former director of the state welfare agency has pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy.
In a statement to Fox News Digital, Favre said: “I have been unjustly smeared in the media.” Everyone’s favorite punching back.
Favre said he didn’t know that welfare funds were involved and was told by state officials “that the legal work to ensure that these funds can be accepted by the university was done.” He said he is repaying the money for the speeches, which he blamed on a misunderstanding.
The problem for Favre, who has not been charged, are text messages show he wanted to keep his involvement secret.
“If you were to pay me is there anyway the media can find out where it came from and how much?” he asked an official at the nonprofit that got the misappropriated money, who has since pleaded guilty. And Favre kept up the pressure even after Phil Bryant, then the state’s governor, told him that it could be illegal to misuse public funds.
So it takes a certain degree of shamelessness to blame the whole thing on a media smear.
But, as politicians know all too well, that’s the world we live in today.