Do we need our politicians to become Oprah-ized? by Marjorie Arons-Barron

The entry below is being cross posted from Marjorie Arons-Barron’s own blog.

Revelations by Senator Scott Brown that he was sexually abused follow by weeks Governor Deval Patrick’s going public with the depth of wife Diane’s depression. Do we really need this tell-all trend? Do we want to know the gory details?

Certainly it will help sell their memoirs, about to be published. Is that what it takes in this message-overloaded media environment? Maybe. And, for some readers, it may make them even more sympathetic human beings.

But really, isn’t what really matters what these political figures do, what are the values they pursue in their work? Traditionally, the only place it has been helpful to know these intimate details is in measuring the hypocrisy quotient in an official’s behavior: the guy who vehemently opposes abortion but whose teenage daughter had one; the anti-gay zealot who is secretly homosexual; the insistent promoter of traditional marriage who plays around on the side.
And yet, Boston Herald columnist Margery Eagan raises an interesting point: Brown, she says, is performing a service for silent abuse sufferers, those afraid to come forward, those who believe they can never trust anyone or be successful in life, those who believe they are ruined and can never rise above the incident of abuse.

Diane Patrick says she has stepped forward about her history of depression and early domestic abuse (prior to her marriage to the Governor) precisely because her story may help others believe they, too, can overcome. It does take courage to come forward with one’s intimate history of events that have caused shame to burn in one’s soul. If doing that can bring relief in one’s own life and help others resolve turmoil in theirs, then it’s probably a good thing.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

4 Responses to Do we need our politicians to become Oprah-ized? by Marjorie Arons-Barron

  1. Steve says:

    I have mixed feelings about this. I understand what you’re saying Tony. However, I recently watched the film “Our Fathers,” in which you really feel the devastation wrought on mainly young men by priests such by Geogan, Shanley, and Birmingham. Interestingly, Father “Spag” of St. Patrick’s is portrayed as a vehement critic of Cardinal Law, savagely indignant at the abuse perpetrated by these priests, and then, tragically, accused by one individual himself. Personally, I never thought Spag was capable of such a thing, but that’s another issue.

    Anyway, after watching this film, I think I have more sympathy with anyone who went through sexual abuse, and yes, we’re tired of hearing all the confessionals, but something like that makes such a tremendous and horrible impact on a person’s life, that to write any kind of a biography that ignored it would either be dishonest or to imply that somehow you can’t talk about it because perhaps it was partly your fault. I’m sure that Scott Brown would have preferred not to have had this experience, but if he was a victim, it’s a part of his experience and something he can’t erase. What’s really sad is that there seem to be so many stories like his out there.

  2. Margie says:

    Steve, The hypocrisy part of this revelation is still disturbing, that elaborated on by Peter Gelzinis in yesterday’s Boston Herald. He writes about how, during last year’s election. Brown supported the congressional candidacy of former policeman Jeff Perry, accused of standing by and doing nothing while a fellow cop sexually assaulted a 14-year old. Gelzinis points out that Brown at the time was totally dismissive of the sexual abuse victim’s efforts to have her story told. Now his changed attitude coincides with his book publication. If he had it to do again, would he still embrace Perry and scoff at the victim in that case?

    What also strikes me is that Brown may well aspire to national office, in which case, this tell-all strategy is a way of getting all the skeletons out of the closet and controlling the message in one’s own time frame, not when someone else digs it up. Probably there are elements of all these factors at play here.

  3. Steve says:

    I see your first point Margie, but I don’t think being abused when you’re a kid
    is a skeleton in your closet. You didn’t do anything wrong. You’re a kid.

  4. Margie says:

    Steve, You’re right about that terminology. Nevertheless, any revelation along these lines could become a distraction in a national campaign, and, from Brown’s perspective, he’s better off dealing with it now, when he can control the message.