Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Perils of Ben Westlund

Nothing like a little salacious detail to get the political press excited.

State Senator Ben Westlund has been taking a pounding in The Bulletin over the past few days over new details given an underhanded release about an incident that occurred 11 years ago.

A sealed letter was leaked to the Associated Press by Westlund’s political opposition. It included embarrassing details that neither Westlund nor the woman involved chose to reveal when the incident broke over a decade ago.

There was no real news here. Westlund had already acknowledged his inappropriate behavior and the woman involved and Westlund put the incident behind them years ago and have become friends. Yes, there’s a gap between an “unwanted hug” and what was described in the letter. So what? The woman involved didn’t want to go any further than what they originally described and was satisfied with the outcome. There was no crime; there was bad behavior, for which Westlund apologized profusely.

The matter has been closed for a decade.

Trot out any pious excuse you want to: this is just dirty election year politics with the political media piling on.

Earlier in this election season, the political media got all atwitter about a story linking John McCain to a lobbyist. An attractive, blonde lobbyist who looked smashing in an evening gown.

Nobody believes that the story was about McCain’s cozy relationship with lobbyists. It was about sex, or the hint of it. McCain’s opponents seized on it because sex sells and sex scandals can damage or destroy a candidate.

This is nothing new. American politics has indulged in sex-scandal mongering since Thomas Jefferson’s opponents first broke the story about his “relationship” with a slave. European politics is rife with scandal, too.

Let’s be honest. This isn’t about moral rectitude. It’s about gotcha and titillation. It’ll never stop, but nobody covers themselves with honor by indulging in it.

Jim Cornelius, Editor


  1. "There was no crime; there was bad behavior" - Tell that to Bob Packwood.

  2. Well, let's be clear: Bob Packwood used his political power to pressure his victims into staying quiet and then dragged the issue through hearings while calling the victim a liar.

    Ben Westlund acted inappropriately, apologized, and then became good friends with Boone.

    I can't beleive the vitriol that's been coming out of the Bend Bulletin ever since Westlund became a Democrat. They even had the gall to bring up his drinking even after he's been dry for over 25 years.

    Thank you, Sisters Nugget, for taking a reasonable view of things.

  3. You guys hit it right on the head.

    This is just about creating headlines even though there is no story there.

    Great editorial and the Bulletin should be ashamed of themselves!