F. Scott Fitzgerald famously uttered, “There are no second acts in American lives,” but bless his heart, the besotted scribe seems blissfully unaware of the loophole large enough to taxi a C-130 through that exists for American politicians. These people are as indomitable as a mule falling off a bridge. More oblivious than a blind tortoise humping a rock. Limber like a deboned eel.
Behavior best exemplified by their insect-like ability to manufacture a sort of shame-resistant exoskeleton. When scandalized, your ordinary citizen will retreat, burrowing deep into a hidey-hole and pulling the hole back in on himself. Not the politicians. They will hold a press conference to declare all accusations baseless, then publicly resign to spend more time with their family. Of course, nobody gets to ask the family how they feel. Sometimes the smiles are so tight you can hear enamel cracking.
Following an imprecise length of penitence, depending on the transgression, they publicly declare their self-imposed sabbaticals to be complete, and head up the comeback trail spouting enough platitudes to chagrin an evangelist. Cue the red, white and blue gospel music. All is forgiven and the practiced hypocrisy reels back out in a tail-sucking mobius loop.
Recently, a veritable gaggle of disgraced politicians have serpentined their way back into the spotlight. Surely you remember the unfortunately named Anthony Weiner, New York Congressman, caught knee-deep in doo-doo for sexting six women, including a porn star. Even tried to get her to lie about the relationship, but she refused. Might be Weiner’s lasting legacy; proving porn possesses more integrity than politics.
Currently running for mayor of New York City, Weiner recently announced a 64-part plan to keep New York vibrant. And used Twitter to do it. Seriously. Dude. Do you really want to remind people of the source of your crotch shots? Verdict: Unsure whether his atonement has fully ripened.
Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s return involves reclaiming his 1st District Congressional seat. The man who turned “Hike the Appalachian Trail” into a euphemism for a quick canoodle with someone not your wife, already bested a GOP primary field of 16 and faces off with Stephen Colbert’s sister, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, in a special election May 7.
The National Republican Congressional Committee pulled all support after Sanford’s wife accused him of defying divorce settlement terms. Prompting the philanderer to take out a full-page 1,200-word ad explaining why he trespassed on his wife’s property during the Super Bowl. A candidate treatise subtitled: “Why I Trespassed.” Never good. Verdict: once again, more time in penalty box seems unavoidable.
Former CIA Director David Petraeus just nabbed a gig as visiting professor at City College of New York, presumably speaking on the dangers of having an affair with someone reasonably positioned to finagle a book deal. Verdict: Commonly referred to as a soft entrance. Expect larger leap to more prestigious lily pad in not too distant future.
The results of these post-intermission silk-spinning runs are undoubtedly being studied by the teeming hordes of other sideline lurkers – – John Edwards, Herman Cain, Mark Foley, Gary Condit and their lugubrious ilk. Meanwhile, Larry Craig skulks, still battling that pesky restless leg syndrome. Simply seeking the solace of some anonymous airport men’s room stall.
Recipient of seven consecutive nominations for Stand-Up of the Year, Will Durst performs his new one-man show, “BoomerAging: From LSD to OMG,” every Tuesday at The Marsh, San Francisco. Go to... themarsh.org or willdurst.com for more info.