Imagine you live on Mars and are using an interplanetary-pulse reduction-flux-capacitor-transponder, supplied by the Obama administration's seventh stimulus package. By thus being able to receive broadcasts from Earth, you would conclude that we have the most depraved, sexually permissive society ever.
I can see it now! Envision some pubescent Martian lad "breathing heavy" while watching Britney Spears and Kim Kardashian sex tapes. Picture his mom and dad viewing primetime TV. What would be their opinion of "Sex and The City" or "How I Met Your Mother?" Late night, they could view any number of HBO or Showtime programs detailing sexual options, gender changes or brothels in Las Vegas.
Even our news from major networks is suffused with stories about sex. From Justin Bieber's supposed impregnation of a woman four years his senior, to candidate Herman Cain's alleged sexual transgressions, to John Edwards' mere peccadillos, to President Clinton's comedy with a young intern, and to the soon-to-be-re-reported Newt Gingrich infidelity scandal, it fills our airwaves 24/7.
I'm no prude, but it is a shame. There are times and places for such business, but I'd rather it not be in my face all the time. I long for the days when it may have been on people's minds but wasn't casual conversation.
However, it is the campaign season and when it comes to those who would lead my country, I do believe that nothing is off-limits. We should know as much as possible about their past lives and, therefore, their character.
Should a past transgression or a long ago wrongdoing eliminate someone from the arena? Is it a "gotcha?" Not necessarily. It is a matter of frequency and degree. Even great men and great women have made mistakes and suffered from poor judgment. Let us find the truth, and make an intelligent evaluation.
Therein lies the rub. The investigations and new coverage range from mere curiosity to ferocious inquisitions. If you are a conservative Republican, be prepared! As in the case of Sarah Palin, legions of reporters will storm your hometown and interview anyone and everyone you've ever known. Like George W. Bush, all records will be searched until something shows up and, of course, it will be reported at the most opportune time.
Just look to Cain, Clarence Thomas, Rick Perry and even John McCain. Every possible bit of dirt or impropriety will be examined ad nauseam. If the colonoscopy reveals naught, the mindset is to "look again, we must have missed something!"
My problem is the one-sided zeal and the purposeful timing of news releases to obtain the desired effect. I believe our leaders should be under a microscope. They make life-and-death decisions for our troops and spend trillions of American tax dollars, which affect us all. They should be worthy!
Nevertheless, there is no comparison between the zeal directed at conservatives and the casual apathy intended for liberals. Just look at Democratic Congressman Barney Frank and his complicity in the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac debacle. Barely a finger pointed at old Barney!
Can one imagine the field day if Democratic senators Ted Kennedy and Chris Dodd had been conservative Republicans? Had they been, they would have finished their careers grooming beaches in New England!
Even our good old boy Democratic President Bill Clinton was handled with kid gloves. Just compare the ferocity of the press with Nixon's Watergate scandal to the "No big deal. Everybody does it," spin heard on the nightly news during the Lewinsky, Whitewater, Paula Jones and perjury days of the Clinton administration.
It is now three years into Barack Obama's presidency and what do we know about his past life? I wouldn't quite call him the "Manchurian Candidate," but the press certainly has given him a pass. Were his health records ever opened? How did he travel abroad to countries off-limits to American citizens? What about his college and law school records?
Being a good-looking fellow, were any old girlfriends found? What about his questionable relationships with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, "money man" Tony Rezko of Chicago and the firebrand minister Jeremiah Wright? Can you imagine if these questions centered on Palin or Gingrich?
A circus was had over an old DWI in George W. Bush's distant past, but the press never pushed for release of Obama's birth certificate, when legitimate questions arose over his eligibility for president.
I guess it didn't matter that he may not have been born here, even though the Constitution requires it.
As I said, I've got no problem with digging into the past of any politician. Let's find out how serious their skeletons are, so we can be sure the candidate possesses the character befitting the job, but let us apply the same fervor to all.
Chuck Pinkey is the owner of River Valley New Holland Inc. in Otego. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of The Daily Star and its editorial board.