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Friday, February 02, 2007

Political Brands: Why Gavin Newsom is hosed

If you're at all tuned into what passes for news, you could not have missed this week's most salacious item: San Francisco's city slicker mayor, Gavin Newsom, went before the cameras to admit that he indeed has been having a sexual affair. At first, the most shocking element of the story was that, San Francisco being what it is, the affair was heterosexual in nature. Newsom presented himself to the media with a grand mea culpa, admitting to his lapse in judgment and asking the good people of the city to stick by him.

Methinks not.

It's one thing to for a single man to mess his mousse every once in a while with a blonde or two. I don't think anyone has a problem with that. And since Newsom divorced his FOX news reporter wife, Kimberly Guilfoyle (a brunette), he's certainly free to play the field as he wishes. My hat's off to any straight male in San Francisco, even when he's dating actresses, Scientology converts or twenty-something restaurant hostesses.

I don't think the people of San Francisco have a problem with that.

The fact that Newsom admitted to doing the horizontal mambo with a married woman throws an interesting spin on things. Sure, some far-right conservatives will throw the Family Values book at him, but the nation as a whole will spot him on that one, especially those who have been married longer than five minutes. Man being the sexual animal he is, married to the sexual animals they are, I suppose that breaking the monotony by occasionally bedding a mayor can be tolerated. As a matter of fact, I'd be willing to bet that were Bill Clinton running for president today, nobody would really hold anything against him the way he held Monica against himself.

The thing is, there's no unforgivable sin attached to the sexual liaison between Newsom and his paramour, Ruby Rippey-Tourk - wife of Newsom's most trusted political advisor. They're two attractive people evidently sexually attracted to each other. If nobody had found out about their tryst, nobody would have gotten hurt. It happens every day, to millions of people across the country. A simple affair with a married woman won't kill your political brand. But here's what will:

The fact that it's a simple affair with the wife of your best friend.

Americans can forgive just about anything, but they won't forgive disloyalty. Not from their friends and certainly not from a politician. They won't tolerate an abuse of trust. And what Newsom did to his chief aide and pal, Alex Tourk, immediately ripped into the hearts and minds of every American who heard the story. They take this kind of stuff personally, as if it could happen to them -- because it could, or very probably, already has.

Nobody cares about Newsom dipping his wick. Everyone cares about deceiving and stabbing your best friend in the back. And if he could do that to his very best friend, it means he could do it to anyone, any time, any place.

That's why his political brand is completely bankrupt of any future value. He's done. Finished. And if the good people of San Francisco tolerate his deception by re-electiing him, they are, as Harry Truman once said, "a bigger bunch of suckers than I think you are."

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