Can’t-make-this-stuff-up Dep’t

Washington Post headline:
During National ‘Character Counts’ Week,
Bush Stumps for Philanderer

Headline in the Washington Post (no, not The Onion):

During National ‘Character Counts’ Week,

Bush Stumps for Philanderer

Footnote The headline-writer seems to have lost his moral compass, perhaps from reading too many Christian Right press releases. Does the Congressman’s “philandering” (i.e., adultery) really indicate a character flaw more serious than the one that led him to beat his mistress and threaten to strangle her? The Bible, at least on the surface, agrees with the headline-writer; it condemns adultery vigorously, and domestic assault not at all. Does the newspaper mean to embrace that judgment? Or perhaps the headline-writer has simply read correctly what “character” means in current American political discourse: abstaining from illicit pleasure, rather than from wanton cruelty.

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

4 thoughts on “Can’t-make-this-stuff-up Dep’t”

  1. Hold it, Mark. Sherwood has admitted the affair, and is therefore a 'philanderer. The accusations of abuse are simply that, accusations. I certainly would not be surprised if they are true, but would you want other politicians who have been accused of serious offenses, or even of the non-crime of being gay (I am thinking of Ted Strickland and the NAMBLA-smear) to have headline writers quote the accusation as fact?

  2. Also, it makes for a neater headline. "Philanderer" is just one word; "Congressman accused of trying to strangle his mistress" runs on too long. I still think the headline is utterly marvelous, and I'm rather surprised that the Post had the nerve to run it. (Incidentally, does the current mushiness of the Post have anything to do with the fact that it's now published by Kate Graham's husband Richard — who is a Republican, albeit a moderate one?)

  3. Sherwood is an interesting study in Republican overreaching and hypocrisy. The legislature redistricted in his area to take the city of Scranton with all its inconvenient Democrats and younger Caseys in it. According to my friends in Scranton, the affair has been known for years, but even the huge Republican majority in the district is having trouble with the idea of trying to strangle his 23 year old mistress. It didn't seem to phase the minister in chief though, and he came in stumping for him, as you note on character counts week. W appears to be having as little impact there as he is most everywhere else. Count this one as an unexpected pickup for the Dems.

  4. If the "Abuser" part were proven or admitted, then they could use that in the headline. There are things we believe as fact about people which might not be true enough to avoid lawsuits.

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