Let me just start off by saying that I really don’t want to comment on Weinergate. The whole thing is dumb, the representative in question has horribly mismanaged his public relations campaign, and quite frankly, there are a lot better things that we should be worrying about. For me, that’s how Mark Steyn arranges his column.
The guy is a lot better than me, I admit. He’s a professional columnist whose material appears in multiple papers and outlets around the globe. But I still scratched my head at his organization of this one. It has 16 paragraphs, and mostly seems to ramble on about Weinergate, while trying to make a conservative point about limited government and the runaway federal leviathan in Washington. But it never comes close to that, until the last few paragraphs (emphasis mine):
The republic’s “citizen-legislators” do hardly anything for themselves these days, starting with reading the thousand-page legislation they cheerily pass, but if they can’t even perform their own sex scandals there really is no point to them. For the last quarter of 2010, Weiner listed 19 staffers, a few with highly specific job descriptions (“Deputy Director of Immigration Affairs”) but most with the kind of blandly nebulous titles (“Staff Assistant”) that could cover almost anything, including in-house ghost-Tweeting. For the sake of argument, let us take it as read that American men are emailing their genitals across the fruited plain all day long, and that in the nature of these things one or two attachments go awry and wind up in the in-box of the elderly spinster who runs the quilting bee and you have to make a rather sheepish apology. Congressmen are among the few in this land who, in such a situation, can breezily say, as Weiner did to CNN’s Dana Bash, “You have statements that my office has put out… .” Herein lies the full horror of American politics in the death throes of the republic: A Congressman has nothing better to do of an evening than Tweet his crotch to coeds, but he requires an “office” with “staffers” to “put out” “statements” on the subject.
When Weiners have staffers, it’s very difficult to have limited government: You cannot have a small state run by big Weiners. If you require an “office” to issue “statements” about your Tweets, it’s hardly surprising you’re indifferent to statist bloat elsewhere.
My question is: why in David Harsanyi’s name didn’t he put that right up at the front? Why did he bury it at the end? In fact, why didn’t he spend more time on this subject? I think its very powerful to note that Congressional staffing may have contributed rather heavily to a bloated federal government. I think it would have made a fantastic column in and of itself. Of course, Weinergate would still be part of it, as Steyn would likely use it as a news hook, but it wouldn’t have the thirteen or fourteen rambling paragraphs about it and courtship in 21st century America, which properly belongs in some disgustingly overpriced, never read academic textbook shoved in the back of a campus bookstore.
I guess this really boils down to me wanting to see a topic broached that I don’t see more often. (Or maybe it is and I’m not noticing it.) And no, not that “topic.”