The past is a great place to live.
There, everything is tainted with a certain beauty, a soft-focused purity which the present cannot match.
There, there was more justice and more sense.
There politicians didn't take photographs of their nether regions and mail them to unknown women. Or, if they did, people didn't hear about it.
Because in the past, there was no Web.
Anthony Weiner, a recent candidate to be the Democratic mayor of New York, seems wistful about the past.
You might remember that, in the recent present, Weiner had a touch of bother when he admitted to having used Twitter to send rather personal pictures to women he didn't personally know.
Having attempted a comeback by standing for mayor -- and failing -- Weiner hasn't taken things well. He's made various appearances on TV, in which he's seemed like a petulant schoolboy who cannot believe he didn't get an A. (I have embedded a recent example.)
Now, in an interview with GQ, he seems to have found a new explanation for his woes: the Internet.
He said: "And maybe if the Internet didn't exist? Like, if I was running in 1955? I'd probably get elected mayor."
More Technically Incorrect
There's a certain truth to this. In the 1950s the sexual peccadilloes of politicians were either generally unknown or covered up by journalists for the, um, greater good.
But there's more nuance to Weiner's plaintive declaration that the Web stood between him and power.
If the Web hadn't existed, he wouldn't have so readily been able to direct his photography at strangers. If the Web hadn't existed, he wouldn't so readily have become Carlos Danger.
Perhaps he'd have found a way to offer his own personalized Kodak moments. But doing it on an impulse would have been very difficult indeed.
The Web gives and it takes away in an instant. The crowd helps each other, and the crowd also brays, 24 hours a day.
If this was still 1955, would Weiner have found different avenues for his complexes? Or would people still have found a way to see through him?
In the end, politics is a dirty business. The trick is not to be caught being dirty.
This was true in 1955. It's still true today.