Skeletons are in everyone’s closets

By By Ryan Shattuck and By Ryan Shattuck

By Ryan Shattuck

My family moved to a new home the summer before my freshman year of high school. Being an inquisitive 14-year-old, I thought it would be a good idea to visit the new empty house a few weeks before my family was to move in. A group of friends and I sneaked into the backyard and, realizing that the kitchen window was undamaged, threw a brick at it, thus remedying that problem.

Unfortunately for us, our neighbor was a cop. He heard the noise of glass breaking, did whatever it is that cops do, and 24 hours later my parents scolded me on the evils of “windows” and “throwing bricks.” On the upside, I quickly learned my lesson.On the downside, I’m still grounded.

Everyone has something in their past of which they’re not proud. Some of our past mistakes we happily make public, so that others don’t follow in our treacherous, mistake-ridden footsteps. However, many of our past mistakes and skeletons we bury deep in a closet, never to be revealed. I personally have so many skeletons in my closet that the skeletons have rotating shifts. I realize that I’m not alone in having made plenty of mistakes. Although it’s understood that no one is infallible (with the exception of religious figures, such as Jesus Christ or Barack Obama), we also understand that everyone has his or her own personal secrets and mistakes. Sometimes this understanding and sympathy isn’t applied toward politicians, though. If someone had said to me several weeks ago “name the governor of New York,” I would have responded with “what’s in it for me?” After being offered a free coupon to Applebee’s, I probably would have responded, “I still don’t know the name of the governor of New York. But thanks for the coupon.” Today, however, I not only know that New York’s former governor is Eliot Spitzer, but I also know everything about his sex scandal, ranging from how much he spent on his prostitute ($4,300) and how much she weighed (105 pounds).Spitzer, who spent his political career enforcing “morality” on others, is now seeing his political future disintegrate because of his involvement with a prostitution ring.

The airing of a politician’s dalliance in such a public manner is such a common occurrence these days that Congress is considering National Sex Scandal Day as a new federal holiday, so that all scandals can be revealed at the same time. Larry Craig, Bill Clinton, Mark Foley, Jim McGreevey, David Vitter and now Spitzer have all provided fodder for late night comedians’ monologues. Each of these politicians, as well as thousands more, have had the skeletons in their closet escape against their will, thus paving the way for everything from personal agony to countless pop culture jokes. Sure, Clinton’s affaire de coeur might be a decade old, but it will be quite some time before the words “cigar” and “intern” will be used in the same sentence again without encouraging suppressed giggles.

Do such politicians deserve the harsh penance that often greets them in the morning like a cup of day-old coffee? Might they warrant more sympathy than they are usually afforded? Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has skeletons in their closet, and everyone has something in their past they wish could be undone. The Ford Motor Company had the Edsel. John F. Kennedy had the Bay of Pigs Invasion. John Travolta had “Battlefield Earth.” Coca-Cola had Tab Clear. Britney Spears had the years 2006 to 2008.

However, the difference between these public catastrophes and politicians’ private catastrophes is their intent. No one faults Sen. Ted Kennedy for drunkenly stumbling into a meeting at 10 a.m., for he puts forward no pretense of not being an alcoholic. On the contrary, a governor who spent his former career as an attorney general by reining in Wall Street and prostitution rings-only to become involved himself in the same prostitution rings-deserves the full brunt of the opprobrium that usually comes. The intent of a person defines whether that person will later be labeled as a hypocrite or simply as a person who’s made a mistake.

No one enjoys having the skeletons in their closet being made public. If we learn anything from Spitzer other than that cheating on one’s spouse with a prostitute is not a good idea, it’s that a person who condemns others for a sin ought to be free of that sin themselves. Fortunately, we can limit such events from happening in our personal lives by focusing more on our own mistakes and shortcomings, instead of judging the mistakes and shortcomings of others.

This doesn’t apply to people who throw bricks through windows. Only a moron does that.

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