Wednesday, June 08, 2011


The Anthony Weiner body part that's gotten most of the attention is the one below his waist -- but the Weiner photo that surprised me most was the one of his workout-enhanced, apparently waxed chest. When you want to have illicit sex, or even just conversations alluding at great length to the possibility of illicit sex, and you want to impress those you hope will engage in such interactions with you, I guess this is what you do, if nature made you a scrawny and (probably) unfashionably hairy guy.

If, on the other hand, nature and your upbringing and your former political beliefs made you a non-charismatic, non-macho, non-extremist guy and you want to win the votes of registered Republicans in presidential primaries, you do the political equivalent of upper-body workouts and hair removal: you propose a budget like this:

Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty called on Tuesday for more than $2 trillion in tax cuts for individuals and businesses over the next decade and two to three times as much in federal spending reductions and loophole closings....

Mr. Pawlenty’s proposed tax and spending cuts go well beyond anything being sought at this point by the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill....

Under his proposal, the corporate income tax rate would be reduced to 15 percent from 35 percent. Individual federal income tax rates, which currently go as high as 35 percent, would be flattened to just two rates: 10 percent for the first $50,000 of income and 25 percent for income above that.

He also called for elimination of all taxes on capital gains, interest income and dividends. And he proposed eliminating the federal estate tax.

Mr. Pawlenty suggested that the government would recapture much of the lost revenue through higher levels of economic growth....

That last bit is a fantasy infinitely more delusional than anything Anthony Weiner messaged to a woman. And Weiner's fantasies, if acted on, at worst would have destroyed his own marriage; Pawlenty's fantasy, if acted on, would eviscerate programs that are vitally necessary to ordinary people, vastly increase economic inequality, and blow an additional $8.4 trillion hole in the government's budget.

Weiner seems not to have ever intended to act on his fantasies in a face-to-face (or choose your own body parts in that adjective) encounter; similarly, Pawlenty probably believes he can propose this and never actually have to enact it, even if, by some miracle, he becomes president.

Even so, just the fantasy can do harm. The worst harm Weiner's fantasy life can cause is limited to his own family; Pawlenty's fantasy life, however, could inspire other Republicans, including those with a far better chance of becoming president, to make similarly insane proposals, and maybe even enact an approximation once in office.

Weiner was probably inspired by porn, directly or indirectly -- even if no porn directly influenced him, his fantasies seem like the porn images that are in our cultural air. But you could say the same about Pawlenty and the likely influence of a certain kind of porn on his fantasy:

Pawlenty's budget -- what will we tell the children?

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