It looks as though the voters of NY have come to their senses on the possible election of Anthony Weiner to be mayor; he now languishes far back in the polls. He's actually set a new record for the highest unfavorable rating of any candidate ever polled in NY -- a stunning 80 percent unfavorable; only 11 percent see him favorably and they must either be pornographers, his immediate family, late night comedians, or maybe people who work for cell phone providers and just need his business.
Now, add to that embarrassing spectacle the case of former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who is vying for the job of New York City Controller -- that would be the job that would oversee finance and spending.
The married Governor Spitzer certainly proved to be a pretty big spender on call girls, so it's sort of hard to see why New Yorkers would trust him with their money.
Well, despite the entertainment value of having these and other politicians find it impossible to leave the spotlight, no matter how humiliating it must be for their families and what friends they have left, an issue emerges -- what has happened to the simple virtue of shame?
Have we lost completely and forever the red-faced, head hanging, tear shedding sense of shame?
When is the last time you heard a politician associated with words like humility, contriteness, brokenness, or modesty?
There seems to be a sense in which we've blurred the lines between shame and fame.
In fact, it's as if we have equated, even elevated, both characterizations as if they were character qualities. In a culture that worships celebrity rather than substance, we ought not to be surprised that those who want to be the leaders of our political institutions are playing by the same rules as those who lead the entertainment industry or sports. Embarrassing and immoral behavior no longer disqualify one for what passes as "public service," but rather is validate one's humanity, and the abra cadabra of just saying "I'm sorry" wipes the slate clean with the added bonus of 100 percent name ID.
Ego, narcissism, and raw ambition have replaced the notion of selfless servanthood. Elected offices now go to the most brazen, driven, and self-fueled megalomaniacs.
George Washington had to be begged into service as president and he absolutely refused to make it a lifetime career. Washington would never make the first cut of a modern day primary that requires one to have the, what I call the "Elijah syndrome" of saying "I'm the only one God has left!"
What we don't see enough of is the Jesus model, The "let this cup pass from me, but not my will by yours be done."
Today's political figures are too often just that -- figures. As in action figures -- artificial miniatures of the real thing.
Shame and the capacity to actually display the shame that we have is not a bad thing -- in fact, it's like humility, it's a good thing. It reveals that we in fact do know the difference between right and wrong, and we're utterly disgusted with ourselves when we fail.
Where there is no shame, all that's left is fame, and that is a sorry substitute for character.