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    The ability to compartmentalize

    This whole thing about the Mayor of Spokane just keeps getting weirder. The Washington Blade points to this article that says West has now stated that he is, in fact, gay. West’s emotionalism makes him, on the surface, more sympathetic than that smarmy smoothie James McGreevey. But then you get to parts like this:

    The mayor also referred to a story in Saturday’s paper in which a man named “Scott” said he was sexually molested by [West crony] Hahn and reported the conduct to West during a 50-mile Boy Scout hike around Mount Rainier in 1980.

    Smith said West “couldn’t remember the kid. He doesn’t recall the incident.”

    West said another adult on the trip, whom he didn’t identify, “told him not to worry about it, that we didn’t know about sexual abuse in 1980,” Smith said in relating the mayor’s comments.

    But West also said, “It may be possible that the kid said something, maybe about being fondled, and maybe I just didn’t recognize how important that might have been.”

    We didn’t know about sexual abuse in 1980? WTF? It’s certainly true that people weren’t parading allegations on Oprah in 1980. I was only eight then, but I’m pretty sure that it was generally recognized that it was a bad thing for a Boy Scout leader to be fondling his troop members. Of course, it’s always possible that Hahn was just showing the kid how to hold the bow properly during archery practice. There’s no way of knowing. But West’s dismissive, hand-washing obtuseness doesn’t sit well.

    The allegations of sexual abuse and sexual harassment* against West himself are graver, though it’s possible that he is, in fact, innocent of all of them. What’s clear is that he was trying to play both ends against the middle:

    It was that young man’s story about allegedly meeting the mayor in the online chat room that led the newspaper to hire a forensic computer expert to verify the teenager’s claims that the man he met online was West – a process that took six months to complete and involved creating a fictional teenager known as “Moto-Brock.”

    On April 9, West sent his photo and City Hall Web site biography to Moto-Brock, asking him to keep the secret. “Please don’t tell anyone at all,” the 54-year-old mayor told Moto-Brock, who he thought was a gay teenager. “It’s a part of my life I don’t share at all,” he said.

    “Someday I may run for governor and this would be bad, if you know what I mean,” West told the teenager.

    We do now, honey. More even than the ethical concerns here, which are bad enough, the idiocy is breathtaking. I don’t think West comes off as necessarily anti-gay in terms of his policy positions–it would be fine for him to say that his conservatism makes him come down against special protections. But come on. If you’re going to play close to the edge–keeping your sexuality a secret to get ahead in politics and pursuing barely-legal hotties on the Internet and using the alpha-male impressiveness of your real-life job and identity to reel ’em in–what kind of numbskull do you have to be, in 2005, not to think it’s going to blow up in your face eventually?

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