I recently moved from my beloved Chicago to the Peoples Republic of Portland and it all happened as my former neighbor (literally--we lived two blocks away) was being hauled away to the pokey. The Rod Blagojevich story is Chicago politics at its best, which is to say politics at it worst. So it was with a little satisfaction that read about the troubles facing my newly adopted hometown's mayor.
Sam Adams (real name, I swear. And it gets better) was caught giving it to an intern named Beau Breedlove (I couldn't make it up if I tried).
According to the Oregonian this week, "Adams, who is openly gay, at first said his relationship with Beau Breedlove was strictly intern-mentor. He later acknowledged a sexual relationship and said the 'mentoring part' of their relationship was contrived."
It's all too much for a cynical old bastard like me to absorb so I turned to a good friend who has lived in Portland for a while to give me some perspective.
The biggest issue seems to be that he lied: he was confronted by two different reporters (who had heard rumors that he was sexing up an intern), and he denied them, point blank, and called the rumors dirty politics, homophobic, etc. -- he really took the high ground, when he could have just shrugged it away as none of anybody's business.
But he says if people found out they were indeed involved, nobody would have believed that they'd waited until he turned 18. So in order not to be perceived as a liar, he lied. Not under oath or anything, but still.
The gay community is essentially up in arms on two fronts: falling over themselves in support of him, or falling over each other as they scramble away from him. Three papers in town, including JUST OUT, the GLBT paper, have called for his resignation. No recall petitions may be filed until he's been in office for six months, so the angry mobs are just going to have to wait to light their actual torches, and hope he ups and quits immediately. I'd say that the average Portlander could give a shit about the whole thing, and wouldn't want to be perceived as homophobic -- his orientation was barely an issue during the campaign, except as a source of extreme pride by the gay community -- but naturally, the lying thing is kind of reeky.
My opinion? Well, which one. I'm all over the place. I definitely think it would be a mistake for him to resign: he's a born leader with an incredible sense of civic duty and is, in many, many ways, the ideal person to be mayor of Portland. He deserves to be mayor in a way that nobody else does, and the city (which is facing major change and growth in the next 25 years) needs him right now -- it certainly doesn't need a quick-change stop-gap plug-the-nearest-bozo-in-there-and-pray approach to this situation.
But I wish he'd handled the whole thing much, much better, and I can't completely support him. I wish he hadn't lied, but more than that? I wish he'd had the sense not to put his entire career (and by default, pride-by-association of the gay community) in jeapordy, just to chase a piece of barely-legal tail. Admittedly, I think the guy he was involved with is an opportunistic douche-nozzle with a power-daddy-complex and porn mouth, but I really think the whole thing casts Sam Adams' emotional maturity into doubt in a way that makes me really uncomfortable: sure it's none of my business, but it doesn't stop me from knowing it. Or feeling like I have to defend his behavior, just because I'm gay.
I feel the same way about Madonna.
So, while the details of this scandal are pretty funny if taken one by one, the sum of what it all means is actually pretty sad. Maybe it's time for me to take stock of my own cynicism, but Breedlove getting nailed by Sam Adams is just too funny.