Eww, ick!

Hard to make me feel sympathy for Christine O’Donnell, but Gawker gets close with its publication of an anonymous screed – complete with an unflattering physical description – claiming to be from a man O’Donnell picked up for a one-night stand.

Note that any candidate is vulnerable if the ground rules allow this sort of thing.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

17 thoughts on “Eww, ick!”

  1. Life is not a zero sum game. No need to feel sympathy for O'Donnell just because any sane person would swear off Gawker. Just swear off Gawker, without the sympathy. As you should have done anyway before this ridiculous column was published.

  2. There are two principles here:

    1. Hypocrisy should be exposed.

    2. Human dignity means something.

    I don't know what principle one should prefer here. But Mark should have been consistent: either don't post, or provide the link.

  3. Wow. I just checked that Gawker thing out. (Gawker is not a site I frequent, incidentally–let me make that clear.) So…what's the deal? Privacy really doesn't matter anymore? I mean, it's clearly not that no one respects anyone's privacy…but is it: lots of people no longer acknowledge that we all deserve a fair measure of privacy? Because that might be all it really takes to make life very weird in the age of the internet. I guess Joe S. is right, and that O'Donnell is a special case–her hypocrisy makes this story relevant to some degree… But jeez…she's losing badly; is it really important to kick her on her way down?

  4. I don’t think Mark is obliged to provide a link if the purpose of the post is that candidates’ physical characteristics are off limits in political discourse. Christine O’Donnell has no business making laws that will govern all of us; that is sufficient cause to work for her defeat.

  5. Sympathy is indeed deserved. The Gawker item is wretched, and any punk who requires women's pubic regions to resemble those of porn stars does not deserve the pleasure of female company.

    It's different only in degree, not in kind, from those Rutgers freaks who videoed the guy having sex and posted it on the internet.

    I hope Coons's campaign doesn't mention the Gawker hit at all unless O'Donnell's does, and in that event, unequivocally condemns same.

  6. The writer of the piece in Gawker comes off as callow and extremely conventional, but let's not forget that this is a woman who won her spot ont he ticket by implying her Republican opponent was gay. I'd say O'Donnell's defenders would have more of a case if he'd actually had sex with her and then told the tale. But what happened here was way weirder and less moral than that, and a bit more reflective of O'Donnell's whackjob toxicity.

    Let's review: O'Donnell shows up on an unnounced booty-call at the home of her aunt's tenant (bit of a power play there), on the strength of a brief meeting months before; she drags the guy out and leads him in drunken merriment, then persuades him to help her ditch her wing so that she may go home with him discretely. When she gets him back to his home she announces there won't be any sex because she's a virgin. She's done everything she can to lead him to expect sex, which she then denies. That's her legal right of course, and for a gal of 16 or 18 or 22 it's more common and maybe more understandable. But it's a rally bizarre piece of work for a fortyish woman to pull on a 20-something man, and she's very lucky the guy didn't toss her out into the night, or worse, drunk as he also was. (Not that tossing her etc would have been right either.)

    Anyway, the story is not som much about an odd drunken hookup per se; it's about something a lot more pathologically manipulative, and… entitled. Maybe it could have been told more tastefully, but I think if you're paying attention and not just clutching your pearls, it adds valuable inside information to the dossier on this Tea Party darling. These people are not simply misguided, they are malignantly twisted in their souls, down to the smallest aspect of their lives it often seems. It's foolish and dangerous to pretend otherwise.

  7. The editor of the piece, Remy Stern, is quite a piece of work. Google around some for a better idea of the quality of this journalist. (No scare quotes, because, sadly, I think he is pretty representative of the median journalist.)

  8. No, the sympathy really isn't deserved. Given the extremism of O'Donnell's public comments about sexual activity outside of marriage, the Gawker story, if true, exposes significant hypocrisy on her part. This is a woman who goes so far as to publicly proclaims that masturbation is somehow wrong. That really can't be reconciled with privately approving of naked make-out sessions. O'Donnell is also someone who has given every indication that she'd attempt to write her views on sexual behavior into the law if elected. Certainly she would vote to approve funding for sex "education" classes that preach abstinence only and "teach" students that behavior such as naked make out sessions outside of marriage is psychologically traumatic and makes you less marriageable.

    Gawker and Dustin Dominiak deserve all the condemnation they're getting, but O'Donnell still deserves no sympathy.

  9. This is a woman who goes so far as to publicly proclaims that masturbation is somehow wrong. That really can’t be reconciled with privately approving of naked make-out sessions.

    Assuming arguendo that the Gawker item is factual, she may not "approve" of what happened. She may regret it.

    Most people do act inconsistently with their own morality on occasion, sexual morality included.

    Personally, I associate the GOP with a ruthless lack of forgiveness and decency. I would think Democrats could oppose O'Donnell on the merits, laugh at her fruitcake notions, and still feel sorry for her that someone was such a cad about her. We *are* the ones supposedly able to think two or three thoughts at once.

  10. A couple of comments.

    Suppose the account is false? That's bad, right? We should at least ignore it, or just let NOW do the talking. But we all must note that the statement "released" by O'Donnell doesn't deny it.

    Suppose it's true? What I'm reading is that a regular dude got hooked up with a non-regular dudette and got squicked out. So what? I'm actually more *for* non-regular dudes/dudettes than I am agin' em. But then, I'm taking the whole "I'm, uh, like a virgin" thing to be her personal public kink. I bet it gets a lot weirder. Personally, I think there's nothing at all wrong with that.

    Assuming my reading is true, the level of hypocrisy given O'Donnell's historical positions seems high for ordinary people, but rather common for a politician. Well I guess the Clenis never claimed he was anything but a sinner. But John Edwards sure did. That's the center side. The right side is a much much ranker sewer, we don't need to go there.

    But if you know anything about Berlusconi, O'Donnell has got NOTHING on him. (Relevant to the post up at the top) He's galaxy sized kink, and he has won reelection multiple times with everybody knowing all the relevant details.

    When I spent two weeks touring Italy this summer, I spent a small amount of time reflecting on that. The external beauty coupled to the internal tawdriness.

    Life is strange.

  11. The principle you want to defend, Mark, is "we should all be able to have one-night stands [or equivalent]" without fear that years from now we will be outed. And as a general principle, I agree with you.

    But what about the person who aggressively condemns one-night stands, who wants to do whatever he/she can to prevent others from having them — and yet engages in them personally? Now we are in the territory of "one law for me and my kind, and a different law for you and yours", and I think that is absolutely the sort of thing that SHOULD be publicized to the skies before an election. This is no different from "no abortions for the poor, but my kid can fly to Canada to have one": or "tough on crime, but not on the crimes of my nephew".

    O'Donnell's supposed regret regarding the incident also strikes me as irrelevant. If that regret had translated into some sort of understanding that we are all fallible, and that law and culture should take that into account, I would absolutely be sympathetic to her case. But, agains as pointed out above, the attitude that comes across is nothing but one of entitlement and anger that one of her class be treated as she wishes to treat the lower classes.

    Finally enough with the whole "this is women-bashing" crap. It's bad enough when O'Donnell wants to claim the mantle of feminism, it's even more opathetic when others want to help her. Last time I checked, men, from John Edwards to Eliot Spitzer to Bill Clinton were called out on sexual-type misbehavior by the media, and, (IMHO) often substantially less justifiably, certainly in the cases where the called-out party had NOT made a political career of telling the rest of the world how to live their lives. O'Donnell is not being treated differently as a woman — she is being treated exactly the same way as every man running for office has been treated since, what, the late 60s. And I suspect that public reaction to this revelation in a woman will also not be much different — when the woman presents an attitude of being a good sport, kind and sympathetic to the weaknesses of others, she'll probably pick up votes from a story like this [assuming that, in the story, she acted rather better than O'Donnell acted] — and when the woman has run on a platform of intolerance, there'll be plenty of delight in her misfortune, and little sympathy.

  12. Two questions of merit must be distinguished:

    1.Does Christine O’Donnell deserve to be “exposed” for who she is?

    2. Is the political process well served by making issues out of politicians’ private parts?

    You can answer the first question affirmatively, but I construe Mark’s post as focusing on the second, which he (and I) answer in the negative.

  13. Those who preach chastity and who would, given the chance, criminalize hopping into bed drunk with a total stranger, but who behave that way themselves, deserved to be outed mercilessly as the hypocrites they are. If you want us to leave your private life alone, stop telling us ours is wrong and will damn us to hell. I don't care if you're gay, but if you use your political office to oppress gays while being gay yourself, the public has a right to know.

    Also, the guy wouldn't have sex with her because she didn't shave her nether regions? Puh-lease!

  14. An excellent way to avoid being the target of something like this thing in Gawker is to choose not to lecture the rest of us about being chaste and pure. Everyone has these sorts of encounters in the course of their lives, is it merely coincidence that O'Donnell's indiscretion is published and the embarrassing encounters of Sharon Angle or Whitman are not? Of course it isn't. As unpleasant and embarrassing as this may be she earned this one. No victimhood here.

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