Saturday, December 19, 2009

America's Moral Temperature Via Jenny Sanford, Elin Nordegren, and Adam Lambert

As much as I hate to disagree with Peggy Noonan, her column making Adam Lambert a leading indicator of our cultural decline is wildly off the mark. Link here.

Noonan has always been astute at taking America's moral temperature. But, when she says that Lambert's raunchy performance at the American Musical Awards typifies everything that is culturally wrong with the nation, she misses more than one point.

Do you really believe that the country is losing its moral bearings and confidence because an entertainer put on a sexually suggestive performance at 11:00 p.m. Eastern, long after the tots had been packed off to bed.

Besides, Lambert was singing a song about being "the entertainment."

Why do we take "the entertainment" so seriously? Why do we feel that entertainers are moral beacons for our nation? Do you really believe that people are going to take Adam Lambert to be a role model? Is there going to be an Adam Lambert guide to proper executive behavior? Are people going to learn how to compete in business by emulating Adam Lambert?

The difference between a professional golfer like Tiger Woods and a professional entertainer like Adam Lambert is that Tiger Woods was a role model, a fierce competitor, someone that businesspeople could emulate. No sensible person would assert as much about Adam Lambert.

But Noonan is quite right to pay attention to the way our role models behave in public. And she is right to judge their behavior.

That is why the Mark Sanford love saga was important. Not only because a sitting governor made a fool of himself for love; and not only because he betrayed his wife.

For me, as readers of this blog know, the most compelling aspect of the story was the behavior of Jenny Sanford. Link here.

Mrs. Sanford behaved with decorum and dignity. She did not exactly stand by her man. She did not defend or justify his behavior. But she did not try to destroy him either; she tried to save her marriage.

I felt that Jenny Sanford did better at public behavior than the other members of the wronged political wives club: Hillary Clinton and Silda Spitzer.

Perhaps these women were loyal to a fault. Perhaps they understood that it was a bad idea to destroy the father of their children. All of them, to some extent, tried to maintain a semblance of dignity and decorum.

We cannot say the same about Elin Nordegren Woods.

If you are worried about the effect of Adam Lambert on the culture, what about the behavior of Elin Nordegren Woods.

Elin Nordegren did not even make a show of standing by her man. She had no sense of spousal loyalty whatever. When she discovered evidence that he was cheating, she set out to destroy him. There is no other way to express it.

First, she tried to assault him with a deadly weapon. A woman who was capable of smashing the window of an Escalade was sufficiently consumed with rage to be capable of almost anything.

With the exception perhaps of Glenn Reynolds, no one seems to be capable of judging her behavior. Link here. Even the people like Hanna Rosin who believe that she actually hit him have no problem proclaiming her to be a romantic heroine, even to the point of comparing her to Jenny Sanford. Link here.

By Hanna Rosin's lights, if both women are divorcing their husbands, then they are both romantic heroines. Why is it that someone as intelligent as Hanna Rosin can fail to make the most elementary moral distinctions?

Of course, you will not be surprised to hear that in some quarters Elin Nordegren has been idolized as a new feminist heroine, a model of sanity. Link here. A spontaneous overflow of rage is now considered to be a good thing.

If you were wondering why men and women can't just get along, look no further.

For whatever reason, people are extolling Elin Nordegren for having done the right thing. Chasing your husband out of the house by threatening to assault him is now considered to be an unimpeachable example of moral virtue. Taking his children away from him; running off to find a divorce lawyer. These are the good and proper thing to do. Don't even maintain the appearance of trying to put your marriage together. Avenge yourself against your cheating husband.

Becoming the effective leader of those who are now devoting themselves to destroying Tiger Woods... this counts as a good thing.

And you were worrying about Adam Lambert!

One other thoroughly disagreeable question is haunting the discussion about Tiger and Elin. Why are people cheering when Tiger loses an endorsement? Why are so many people lining up behind Elin, defending Elin, and forming what feels like a mob attacking Tiger Woods? Why is Woods being treated differently from other athletic philanderers?

The answer is: we do not really know. Yet, we do know that one of the most shameful chapters in American history involved the treatment meted out to black men who were accused of consorting with white women. It was not very long ago that black men were lynched for doing far less than Tiger Woods did.

Given that history, people would do better to step back, take a deep breath, and not blindly follow Elin Nordegren in her campaign to destroy Tiger Woods.

Even if it is just a question of appearances. All things considered the attacks on Tiger Woods, as distinct from the criticism of Bill Clinton, Eliot Spitzer, and Mark Sanford, have an unsavory tone that we can really do without.


Anonymous said...

I believe that Elins assult on Tiger is a hearsay. NO evidence supports that she did.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Quite right, it is hearsay... for now, at least. That is why I said that she tried or threatened to assault him with a golf club. I tried very hard not to say that there was an actual assault. Apparently, we also know that she did smash the back window of the Escalade... a sign that she did mean business.

Anonymous said...

The smashed rear passenger windows does not support that she meant business, as BOTH were smashed AFTER crash with tree!

See images at TMZ, glass on ground below windows...