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Yenni becoming Jefferson Parish's version of Weiner

If you haven’t seen the movie Weiner, to get the gist of it just follow around Jefferson Parish Pres. Mike Yenni.

The film profiles the hapless former Rep. Anthony Weiner, who resigned from Congress after it emerged he had sexted, pictures included, with various women not his wife. He then made a comeback attempt, running for mayor of New York City, which became derailed when more texts and pictures occurring after his resignation came to public light. The third time proved the charm upon revelation of a yet another batch months involving a minor before last year’s election – just before releasing the film – when his wife, Huma Abedin, served as a top aide to Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Abedin announced their separation and Weiner went into rehab.

Filmmakers happened to document the mayor’s race, starting out chronicling what they thought would turn out as an interesting story of redemption that mutated into farce. Throughout, Weiner seems offended whenever any interviewer, questioner, or fellow candidate brings up his behavior of the past and then-present, replying combatively and insisting the only relevant criteria on which to judge him are political issue preferences of the day.

This cluelessness of four years past over a thousand miles away now Yenni seems to replicate. Finally venturing into a forum for public commentary months after it surfaced that he had texted suggestively to a male minor and allegedly engaged in sexual conduct, the married father fielded questions on Eric Asher’s WGSO radio talk show. He sounded nonplussed that Asher and callers insisted on asking or commenting about the incident, which has prompted a recall against him for his refusal to resign, as a number of parish officials have called on him to do.

Like Weiner, Yenni seems unable to fathom that people don’t evaluate politicians solely on their promises about what they want to do in office, in the process ignoring observations first recorded some 2,500 years ago. Back in the day when issue preferences didn’t matter because no genuine republic existed, Plato asserted that leadership primarily defined politics (he argued that Athens possessed a participatory democracy, but one that had an extremely restricted franchise). The politician, he said, had an obligation to lead people to a good life.

But people would not follow a leader who they identified as having bad character. They had to trust the leader and his vision, and they could not if that person acted in ways they found unsettling. While issues have importance in a democracy, a majority of people don’t wish to devote all but the most cursory effort to understanding and evaluating these, preferring instead to place faith in a leader to carry out a very general and broad set of platitudes about government with which they agree. If they can’t trust someone to do that, they won’t back that guy.

In short, people do not believe they can have a leader assist them in attaining a better life if they question his judgment, an evaluation most handily made by seeing how he comports himself in the basic things in life, such as familial fidelity and in the appropriateness of his relationships with others. One who makes poor decisions in these matters brings up too much doubt for most of the citizenry.

Yenni seems not to understand this and the related fact that his transgression distracts significantly from his ability to pursue an agenda in government, especially with a recall effort against him gaining significant steam and an apparent federal investigation into Yenni’s texting. His wounded presidency detracts from the ability of him as chief executive to have Jefferson Parish government operate optimally. His resignation or successful recall need not wait on potential documentarians to observe it.

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