The U.S. is familiar with high-profile cheaters and blunderers and their excuses, lies and backtracking. The Web has brought affairs, rude actions and subsequent consequences even more up close and personal.
For example, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., admitted to sleeping with prostitutes in 2007. He continued with his political career but faced another stumble last year when he apparently tweeted “@LuvMy_Kisses” from his verified Twitter account to a young woman. The tweet, which he thought he deleted, is archived by the Sunlight Foundation’s Politwoops service.
David Petraeus, a retired general and CIA director, had an extramarital affair with his biographer, Army reserve officer Paula Broadwell. A timeline of affair details — from their first meeting to a complaint about accusations of inappropriately flirtatious behavior — is posted on The New York Times website.
The Times also has a multimedia section for former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who cheated on wife Maria Shriver and had a son with his mistress, a longtime housekeeper for the family. His son’s birth certificate is displayed for millions to see.
Men and women in power — and those outside the spotlight — have been sleeping around since the beginning of relationships, and dealing with the personal repercussions. Now, the mistakes are heaped — web page after archived video after email — onto the cheater and his or her family, for all to read or view, seemingly forever.
The latest scandal brought too close for comfort involves, of course, Anthony Weiner. Sending lewd photos and messages to young women — not his wife — destroyed his career in Congress. Now that the Democrat is running for New York mayor, new X-rated text messages and a crotch shot, publicized by the gossip website The Dirty, are torpedoing his campaign.
So a video sent to Maine newspapers this week of a Maine Senate candidate dancing in a Speedo — yes, we think those are coconut maracas — doesn’t even register on the spectrum of online controversy. Republican Eric Brakey of New Gloucester was doing his job as an actor and danced for an advertisement for Vita Coco, a coconut drink.
No one was hurt in the making of the ad. He wasn’t dancing for a mistress. He thankfully didn’t take the Speedo off. He was just dancing. And it’s funny. Those who criticized his “family values” had better look a little harder at the video and then compare it to the seemingly endless stream of online videos, tweets and Facebook posts of people doing real damage to their family’s reputation.
We all know the Internet can help bring you down and keep you down — or at least keep reminding you of past mistakes. It can also launch a career (think of pop star Justin Bieber who was first discovered on YouTube) or help maintain a positive image (think of the viral video of First Lady Michelle Obama dancing “the Dougie” with comedian Jimmy Fallon). There’s no way Brakey’s video falls into the camp of disgrace. If anything, it will boost his campaign popularity and name recognition — better positioning him to, shall we say, jockey for power.