A Philosopher's Blog

Yet Another Sex Scandal

Posted in Politics by Michael LaBossiere on July 28, 2011
David Wu

Image via Wikipedia

While our attention should be on the debt ceiling and other such national matters, another sex scandal has occurred. This one involves David Wu of Oregon, a Democrat. While Wu apparently was not Tweeting junk shots, he is alleged to have had an “unwanted sexual encounter” with a young woman.  Wu is currently separated from his wife and apparently has various other personal issues he is dealing with.

Wu has decided to resign, but has stated that he will remain until the debt ceiling matter is settled. Given the way things have progressed with this matter, he might be there quite some time. The Democrats do, of course, have an excellent reason to let Wu remain for the duration. After all, he is a Democrat and they need all the votes they can get. Of course,Wu is from a district that is solidly Democrat in its voting and hence it seems likely that his replacement will be a Democrat. However, having Wu out of office while a replacement is being selected could put the Democrats at a disadvantage.

While it might seem that politicians are more prone to such poor behavior, it is probably the case that the engage in such misdeeds at roughly the rate of the general population. After all, the majority of politicians (like the majority if non-politicians) do not engage in such behavior (or, perhaps, simply do it well enough to avoid being caught). Politicians, however, differ from the general population in (at least) two main ways.

First, the news media is generally far more interested in the doings of politicians than the misconduct other folks (with the obvious exception of celebrities and those few who catch the lens of the media). Because politicians who behave badly end up garnering extensive media attention, it tends to create the impression that such behavior is common (this can be taken as the Spotlight Fallacy or the fallacy of Misleading Vividness).

Second, politicians tend to have personality traits that lead them to exacerbate such situations. For example, politicians tend to think that they are exempt from the usual rules. While normal folks often think this as well, it seems to be more extreme in the case of politicians.  This often leads politicians to fail to recognize that they are acting badly and thus can not only lead them to act badly but also to continue to do so past the point when a normal person would realize that the game is up. As another example, politicians seem to be even more deceptive than non-politicians and this leads them to drag out the denial (such as was famously the case with Weiner). This factor, combined with the first factor, ensures that the sexual misdeeds of politicians will garner a great deal of attention.

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5 Responses

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  1. Buy Condoms Online India said, on July 28, 2011 at 6:04 am

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  2. jelillie said, on July 28, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Good points and ones I have often thought of. How much of what goes on in the spot light of the media is made to look larger than life and more egregious for the sake of selling ad space? I wonder.

  3. magus71 said, on August 4, 2011 at 8:40 am

    I’d like to add that it’s not only politicians that think they’re special, but predatory “partners” waiting for the rich, famous, powerful and stupid.

  4. kernunos said, on August 6, 2011 at 1:36 am

    Has anyone seen my Tigger costume?

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