Opinion Columns & Blogs

July 28, 2013

Gail Collins: Windsors vs. Weiner

I am beginning to think a royal family might come in handy.

I am beginning to think a royal family might come in handy.

True, the endless, action-deprived run-up to the birth of George, Prince of Cambridge, might have reminded the dispassionate observer of the wait for the arrival of a new baby panda.

But while Britain was waiting for the newest Windsor to pop, New York City residents were waiting for the other shoe of the Anthony Weiner sexting scandal to drop. The British got a way better deal.

“I said there were more things out there,” the fallen congressman turned mayoral candidate told reporters rather petulantly, when word got out that he had been having Internet sex long after his alleged rehabilitation was supposed to have begun. The basic message was that since Weiner had never specifically denied the possibility of more scandals, this one didn’t count. (“It doesn’t represent all that much that is new.”)

The revelation did have its moments of perverse fascination. Weiner’s nom de porn was Carlos Danger. New Yorkers have never had a mayor with an official alter ego. Would it need a separate office?

Also, it appears that Weiner’s long speeches in Congress about the single-payer plan might also have been a kind of mating call. “Your health care rants were a huge turn-on,” wrote the woman who reputedly talked dirty with him online.

You have to wonder whether there’s a right-wing equivalent currently texting some House Republican about how she gets hot and bothered every time he votes to cut entitlements.

Still, there is a point in political scandals when bad behavior stops being a joke and just becomes sad and depressing. We have reached that point with Anthony Weiner. He decided to run for mayor while knowing this was the almost inevitable outcome: new humiliation, public uproar, tragic wife. All because he cannot imagine life outside the limelight.

This is where the advantage of a royal family comes in. If we had some famous figureheads at the top of the government, maybe politics would become less about celebrity and attract fewer needy egos.

The great thing about the British royals is that they manage to be both glamorous and dull at the same time. (Kate’s hair and Will’s lack thereof. The bad-boy brother and the 87-year-old grandmother.) Every milepost of their lives is a cause for endless burbling. And it’s all good. Even the overexposed three-week media campout at the hospital’s maternity ward had a kind of train-wreck fascination.

The closest thing we have to a royal family is the one belonging to the president, and presidents tend to be middle-aged men who produce very few family milestones. Even when they do, the country’s reaction is sometimes remarkably surly.

Only one president has ever gotten married or welcomed a new child in the White House. And that was – yes – Grover Cleveland, one of the most unexciting personalities ever to hold the job.

It really does make sense to breed a totally separate group of people just for the purpose of creating feel-good news and enough bad behavior for diverting gossip. Then maybe the attention-starved guys who are looking for love in all the wrong places would stick to hedge funds or football.

It’s a win-win. Except for the price, although a monarchy would still be way cheaper than cotton subsidies.

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