It is a staple of American politics, when American politicians can be bothered to notice Malaysia, to sing the praises of Anwar Ibrahim, the more-or-less permanent opposition leader of that state. It is to the Obama Administration’s rare credit that it has started to distance itself from Anwar, recognizing that Malaysia’s government has made serious strides in the last several years, and that Ibrahim’s unsavory past and ties do not make him a good partner in the region.
The Administration is so very bad at so much foreign policy, that we should actually take the opportunity to praise them when they do something right.
Anwar faces a crisis of his own making, distracting from his latest, quixotic attempt to move from opposition leader into government. In what was initially portrayed as a replay of his famous turn-of-the-millennium sodomy trial, he once again faces a sex scandal and trial. This time, however, there is video. And more importantly, there is the matter of the dynasty he is trying to create.
Here in the U.S., we are well-used to the scene of the politician’s fall from grace via video and photograph, with infidelities real and imagined making their grainy way onto the evening news.
Sometimes the “evidence” is a set-up, and sometimes it is not. But the pattern is usually the same: First the politician and his wife go through a period of denial, then the politician’s wife goes on national TV and (as we saw with Eliot Spitzer, all too literally) stands by her man, defends him, and forgives him for his alleged sin.
This is even truer when the wife has political experience or political ambitions, as was the case with Hillary Clinton or (at first) Elizabeth Edwards, to cite two of our better-known, recent political sex scandals.
It was even true in the case of former Senator Larry Craig, whose wife defended him when he was arrested for allegedly trying to have gay sex in a public restroom at Minneapolis-St. Paul International.