I have very little love for John Della Bosca. A product of the Sussex Street machine, and a key player in one of the most incompetent governments in NSW history, there really is little I like about him. Having said that, however, I cannot help but feel some sympathy for him today as the media hyenas gleefully tear him to shreds.
I must note firstly however, that I can obviously only comment on what I have read, and so if people here have additional information that would affect my assessment, please let me know.
Having said this, there are two main issues I have over the treatment of Mr. Della Bosca. First and foremost is the behaviour of the woman involved. It is clear from the media reports that, following her termination of the affair, she voluntarily went to the media to provide them sordid details in all their glory. She provided journalists with intimate details, text messages, and character slurs on her former lover. Her motives were obviously not even remotely noble, and whether they be out of revenge, a desire for personal glory, financial or otherwise, they are clearly self-serving.
Through breaching the trust and privacy of Mr. Della Bosca in such a manner, whatever lasting shreds of doubt you could have had about her moral character evaporated. The fact that Mr. Della Bosca also broke vows is irrelevant in being able to objectively state that her actions in going to the media were morally reprehensible (and one suspects the possibility that Belinda Neale is far more pragmatic about such things to a degree that trust wasn’t actually broken). I am just sickened by this. This was a clear breech of trust that nothing in the story she presented is justified.John Della Bosca was betrayed in the cruelest way possible.
Secondly, I see no reason why having an affair should disqualify you from public office. None at all. We elect people in politics to govern. We do not elect them to be our moral leaders. Becoming an MP is not the same as becoming a priest. We do not – and should not – elect people on the basis of moral virtue. The only grounds for being elected or removed from office is your ability to do your job. And while I think Mr. Della Bosca should be thrown out of office, this is for the sole reason I think he is incapable in his job description. And not because of what he does in his private life.
Somewhere between 45-55% of married women and 50-60% of married men engage in extramarital sex at some time or another during their marriage. This is a horrible, horrible statistic, and one that is very, very saddening, but it remains a reality. So many people have fallen, and yet we expect our politicians to be pure? Particularly in the political sphere where you have high levels of stress combined with the necessity of travel and spending long periods of time away from home. We really expect our politicians to be as pure as the virgin snow? We really demand such standards – standards we can not keep ourselves? And we’re okay with such hypocrisy?
I do not seek to excuse affairs, not in the slightest. It is an appalling tragedy for the family, and certainly is a moral stain on the character of who committed it. For that I condemn it wholeheartedly. However, with that in mind, I find it a disturbing trend in society at the moment that we expect our politicians to live lives free of sin. To be models of purity and virtue. To be angelic role models in their private lives. And if they ever show any signs of frail humanity and weakness, we tear them down. Such an attitude of unrealistic expectations can never be good for government. We either end up with unrepresentative puritans, or persons who are forced to lie and conceal themselves from the public – what sort of an incentive for honesty is there? And then blackmail becomes an active political commodity. More dangerously, fostering such a mentality that politicians are almost super-human beings means we trust them ,and government ,with far too much power. A society where politicians are ‘role models’ is a dangerous society for liberty indeed.
The only other issue here I wish to make brief not on is how the media act as gatekeepers to decide what ‘scandal’ makes the public. Salacious activities, affairs, these all happen regularly in politics. Any night you can find an activity that presently would be teemed ‘career ending’ if it was made public. And we have a media that has set itself up in the role of judge, jury and executioner in deciding when to go public, when to hush things up. What careers to destroy, and what to save. Whether arbitrary or with a purpose in mind, there can be little doubt the media manipulate such things to get the story they want. And democracy is all the worse for it.
It would be better for all concerned if we understood and accepted our politicians as humans, with all their flaws. We removed the pedestal from under them, and accepted them for who they were. We did not rip into our opponents for personal failings, but rather focused on the issues at hand. And, as technologies are destroying traditional information model, I have hope that such things will gradually occur.
Update: Best Tweat To Date – @moreoj personally I’d prefer a competent premier who’s fucking around than a fucking incompetent premier
Update 2: On the issue of the morality of what was effectively an act of character assassination by the woman in question, I reminded by a Catholic Colleague of mine that such an act would easily be considered a mortal sin by the Catholic Church as gossip that is aimed at destroying someones character/work etc is effectively murder. In fact, the homily at my church yesterday discussed what murder really is in the context of the 10 Commandments from an Orthodox perspective, and how if we kill someone’s reputation, we are in effect killing them.
To those of us who hold Christian beliefs and are involved in politics, I think it is something we would do well to remember. Every time we attack someone behind their back, every time we post an anonymous blog comment, every time we try to kill someone’s reputation, we are, from God’s perspective, killing them.