Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Take Me To Your Leader



We've got ourselves one hell of a moral dilemma up here in Portland. Our very popular young mayor, Sam Adams, was caught in a lie and refuses to step down. It's complicated. As a gay man, politician, and mentor, he's in deep yogurt, over his relationship with a 17 year old "intern" by the name of (are you sitting down?) Beau Breedlove.
For most folks in this town, it's understandable that he chose to keep their brief kissing, and then (after Beau turned 18) their brief dalliance private. It's just that when asked about it before his election, he got indignant, accused his accusers of the most heinous kind of attack on a gay, male, politician. Call it Hubris, call it fear, call it pragmatic, call it arrogant, any way you slice it...big mistake.
"It's not about the sex," some say. "He represents us, therefore he's held to a higher standard," say others. It's about his credibility, it's about his fear of homophobia, it's about his instinctual desire to keep his job, it's about lying. Here's what we know. Sam Adams is a skilled, intelligent, effective politician. He does not want to resign. He can't be recalled for at least 6 months because of an archaic law, subtitled the "sore loser" law. (Don't even go there) Some good old boys passed a law many years ago to prevent any disgruntled losing politician from initiating a recall movement too soon.
So here we sit, a city divided. The more we think and discuss this issue, the more we change our minds. Some folks, tired of the duplicitous response of some of Sam's critics initially felt that his personal life had no place in determining his future as Portland's mayor. They saw why he felt the need to deny any wrongdoing and take an aggressive stance. Then they worried about his dishonesty, fearing if he lied about this relationship, what else might he be tempted to twist the truth about? The reverse was true for those who immediately called for Adams to resign. Many have, after rethinking their immediate response, wondered if his coming clean might just be enough to enable him to reach his promise as a popular, competent, leader. So here we sit, grilling the guy, squabbling amongst ourselves, thinking and re-thinking the situation, and unable to act for 6 months. Those good-old-boys just may have given us a gift.
On the other hand, Gov. Blagojevich, seems to be getting weirder every day. Even if he never got i this jam, if there were no tapes, if he hadn't suddenly started spouting quotes from Kipling and King, Gandhi and Mandela. All this from a guy who looks like a Kennedyesque puppet and sounds like a friend of "Paulie" from the Sopranos.
The beauty here is that these cases do have parallels. I'm not saying they are both moral dilemmas, but there are some striking similarities, not the least of which is intention, political enemies of elected officials, and refusal to resign. To my mind, one of these politicos is in denial, the other in jeopardy of losing a promising career.

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