Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sex and the politician

Why is it that the American public is so enamoured with the scandalous liaisons between private life and politics?

This is almost a universal soft spot among Americans, whether the object of ridicule is a public figure or a celluloid superstar.

Sex life, especially outside the marriage or a monogamous relationship, is actually interesting news. Because we allow media to cover and investigate it to the utmost detail. And this is not just true of our politicians and high-ranking government officials or the movie world’s most exciting couples. Even the ordinary or the most private of individuals write about their sexual angst to media advice columnists, disguising themselves in haplessly silly names.
American politicians linked with sexual scandals during their term in office.
Photo courtesy of CBS/AP. Click link to view "10 Biggest Sex Scandals,"
For politicians in particular, public exposé of their shenanigans outside of the conjugal bed could be a career-ender. An incomplete list of some recent offenders includes former U.S. president Bill Clinton, ex-New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, former New Jersey gay governor Jim McGreevey, former congressman Mark Foley, former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom and current California lieutenant governor, former senators David Vitter and Larry Craig, former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, and former senator and presidential aspirant John Edwards.

Some in the list survived the constant hounding of the press and trial by publicity like Clinton, Gingrich, Giuliani and Newsom. Their political lives, however, have been forever scarred. Their sexual indiscretions would always be added as more fascinating footnotes to their otherwise waning political careers.

While other advanced democracies such as France and Italy would not place too much weight or attention to their leaders’ private lives, especially to what is happening inside their bedrooms, America, however, is an exceptionally strange place. Here, politics and entertainment intersect. Scandals and sexual innuendoes are normal only in the sense that these are reported, but always frowned upon by both the conservative and liberal segments of American society.

Herman Cain, on top of the leader board among those competing for the Republican Party nomination in the next U.S. presidential election, is the most recent high profile figure to receive public scrutiny for allegations of sexual harassment. This is much different from sexual misadventures outside of marriage. It is almost comparable to the allegations made against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during his nomination hearing and to the charges levelled against former International Monetary Fund honcho Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Strauss-Kahn had been rumoured to be the next Socialist Party presidential candidate in France until the allegations brought him down, despite being cleared afterwards.

No matter the quick resolution of Herman Cain’s saga of shifting responses to the allegations of sexual harassment, he is still in the thick of the presidential race although almost everyone in the press has already dismissed his candidacy. It seems only a matter of time before Cain would eventually bow out, just like the others whose sexual improprieties have been exposed to public scrutiny.
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain answers questions about sexual
 harassment  allegations. (AP/Photo) Pablo Martinez Monsivais. Click link to to view "Herman Cain Accuser - He
tried to grab my genitals."
According to a study conducted by a Dutch professor of psychology, the likelihood of infidelity increases the more powerful someone is. From an analysis of respondents from low-level management positions to top level executives, the study confirmed that the higher someone was in the hierarchy, the greater the chances of cheating with another partner.

This runs in contrast with the amateurish psychoanalytic rumbling of Rush Limbaugh on radio about the probable causes that led former U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner to show on the Internet how sexually endowed he was. Limbaugh has even suggested that liberal women are to be held at fault for political sex scandals, specifically blaming their supposed efforts to suppress testosterone in men.

Limbaugh said Weiner had been hanging around too much with a bunch of liberal women who have been attacking testosterone and traditional male roles. Weiner has been “kitty-whipped,” Limbaugh said. “He was no longer a real guy,” Limbaugh added.

During the radio show, Limbaugh said that liberal women have "neutered the business of politics," by suppressing testosterone in men.

Sadly for Limbaugh, his theory wasn’t merely ludicrous, degrading and utterly disconnected to feminism. It is simply illogical and nonsensical as well. It fails to explain the numerous sex scandals involving conservative men, like Herman Cain, for instance.

Perhaps, America does not want its president or any of its political leaders to exploit their influence and power to exact sexual favours even if these have nothing to do with the jobs they have sworn to do. Sexually harassing women, however, is not the same as currying for sexual advantages. Here lies Herman Cain’s greater misdeed, whether the allegations against him prove to be true, or settled, thus absolving him of any liability or guilt.

As there is no speculation about his sexual secrets, would Barack Obama cut the figure of robust integrity then?

Michael Wolf wrote in Vanity Fair that his friend, a middle-aged white doctor and Obama supporter, said that Obama would never have the same sex problems these aforementioned politicians have. “Because Michelle would whip his skinny ass,” this friend was alleged to have said.

True to the findings of the Dutch study, here is Obama as a controlled man, not one obsessed with power and hints of sexual desperation. According to Wolf’s friend, his is “our ideal of a good liberal’s sex life ought to be.”

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