The latest gratuitously self-destroying Republican

Lest we think that there was something exceptionally stupid about a black woman in Britain who flew to Philadelphia and had silicone injected illegally into her buttocks in a budget hotel, let us consider the case of Christopher Lee, a 46 year old married Republican congressman from upstate New York, who went on Craig’s List and, using his own name, told a woman with whom he was trying to make a date that he was a 39 year old divorced lobbyist. In addition, he sent her a shirtless photo of himself flexing his muscles:

A representative of the people in his leisure hours
Most impressive is the thoughtful expression on his face

The woman then looked up his name on the Web and found out about Christopher Lee, Republican congressman. According to her account, when she realized he had lied to her about his age and marital status (not to mention his occupation), she ended contact with him. Then she sent the story and the e-mail correspondence to a site called Gawker. The site published the information, and Lee immediately resigned from Congress, asking forgiveness of his wife, etc.

It was one thing, as bad and amazing as it was, for Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina to destroy his political career (and his marriage) in order to be with the woman he believed was his “soul mate.” It’s a whole other thing for Rep. Christopher Lee to destroy his political career … in order to have a date with a woman he had never met!

Further, unlike Sanford, Lee didn’t have to destroy his career, at least not in the way he did. There was nothing compelling him—a married congressman who had just purchased a $650,000 home with his wife—to use his own name in an e-mail correspondence with a woman he was trying to start an adulterous relationship with, while telling the woman major lies about himself which would be exposed the moment she looked up his name. Beyond and apart from his wrongdoing, has anyone ever heard of such a level of stupidity?

With such blatantly self-destructive behavior going on all around us, from the hip hop world to the world of governors and congressmen, it’s hard to avoid the thought that something in the human race is breaking down.

Here’s the Feb. 10 New York Post article about Lee’s resignation. In the print version of the article, the photo extends further downward, showing Lee flexing his right hand like a muscleman. (Gawker has the fuller version of the photo, and I’ve copied it above.)

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LA to Laura Wood:

Any thoughts about what causes a person to behave in such a self-destructive way?

Laura replies:

Judging from the photo, Lee appears to be someone so infatuated with himself he has lost touch with reality.

LA replies:

Yes. That seems to be as correct and concise an explanation as one could hope for. It could be a sufficient explanation for the way people behave today, not just doing bad things, but doing them in such a wildly careless manner as to bring instant ruin on themselves. Mark Sanford, Claudia Aderotimi, Christopher Lee, and so many others are so infatuated with themselves that they have lost touch with reality. Drunk with self-love, they stumble through the world, not watching where they are going, and not caring that they are not watching where they are going.

Laura replies:

A culture dominated by images produces an extraordinary amount of thoughtless and impulsive self-infatuation.

LA writes:

Are people behaving in a more self-infatuated or reckless manner today than in the past? For comparison, I looked up a famous scandal from when I was a kid, the Profumo Affair in England. In 1961, John Profumo, Secretary of State for War, had an affair with party girl / call girl Christine Keeler. The affair lasted a few weeks and then ended. In 1962, rumors about the affair began to circulate. Also in 1962, Keeler got involved in a series of altercations involving several men which brought her to the attention of the authorities, which in turn sparked the suspicions about Profumo and Keeler, which were further exacerbated by information leading British intelligence to believe that Soviet agents had used Keeler to get secret defense information from Profumo, which led, in 1963, to Profumo denying the affair, which led to his admitting he had lied and resigning in disgrace from the government and from the Parliament.

Profumo behaved wrongly in having the adulterous affair. But, as far as I can tell from Wikipedia’s compact account, he wasn’t behaving in such a wildly reckless manner that he was doomed to instant exposure. It was other events, for the most part outside his knowledge and control, which led to his exposure and disgrace. (It’s not clear from the Wikipedia article if Profumo should have suspected that Soviet agents might be using Keeler to get information from him.)

This one example from another era doesn’t prove anything. But it is useful in illustrating the difference between wrong behavior, such as Profumo’s, and insanely careless and self-destructive behavior, such as Lee’s.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 13, 2011 02:20 PM | Send

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