Some of my readers may remember that, as well as writing the history of the entire world, I wrote an academic study of public confession. The slightly unexpected result: every time a politician or preacher runs off the rails, I have to drop everything and comment.

Which happens a lot.


Anyway, CNN asked me to comment on Anthony Weiner’s troubles this morning…the jokes tend to write themselves, but here’s a more serious take (I’m only allowed to reproduce the first 150 words, so you’ll have to go to CNN for the rest.)

It’s a familiar scene by now: The politician is caught with his pants down, even if his boxers are still up. He feints, spins, lies and ducks. And then, finally, he breaks down in tears, apologizing to us, to his wife, to his constituency and, occasionally, to his God.

The sequence is monotonously predictable, but we’re still riveted.

And with good reason. A politician’s confession uncovers a vital truth about his relationship with us, the voters who put him into office.

On a scale of one to ten, Rep. Anthony Weiner’s sexting doesn’t exactly top out on the sexual depravity meter. But it still reveals a willingness to use his power — the power that the voters handed over to him, to use for the public good — for his own selfish ends…

Click anywhere to read the rest at CNN.

Showing 2 comments
  • Sebastian (a lady)

    Very nice. Do you think the American penchant for public confession is part of the disconnect between how the US and the French media reacted to Dominique Strauss Kahn?

  • michele

    I would like to know when you will have vol.3 and 4, “late renaissance/early modern”, and “mdern times” finished. I saw them listed on your website but I can’t find them in the library or bookstores.

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