"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Weiner, Spitzer And Angry Women–Sexual Politics

Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer are doing quite well for themselves, politically speaking.  Both, despite recent sex scandals, are being reconsidered by voters for important positions –  Weiner is the leading candidate for Mayor of New York City, and Spitzer has a very good chance of becoming the City’s Comptroller.

This is a very good sign and shows the maturity of voters – a smarmy sex life has nothing whatsoever to do with being a smart politician and savvy leader. Spitzer has Ivy League smarts (Harvard, Princeton) and had a successful, high visibility career as New York Attorney General prosecuting the Gambino crime family before being elected Governor.  Weiner is a more typical New York City politician – proud of his middle-class Jewish Brooklyn roots and modest education, and navigating the waters of New York and Congress with street smarts and canniness.

Spitzer’s frequenting high-class hookers at the Mayflower in Washington and Weiner’s tacky IT episodes have nothing to do with their successes as politicians.  Although many women fret and pull their hair at the idea of these ‘sexual exploiters’ once again gaining the public trust, there is no reason why any man or woman – politician or ordinary man-in-the-street schlub – cannot be both a libertine and a political leader.

The reports of Lyndon Johnson’s late-night tomcatting in Washington, aided and abetted by the Secret Service is well-known.  JFK couldn’t keep it in his pants, and although some of his adventures may have gotten him in Dutch with the Mob and the FBI, most Americans have given him a bye.  He was what most men want to be – tall, handsome, powerful, and irresistible to women.  Fucking Marilyn Monroe?  Are you kidding? Just about every president with the unsurprising exception of Richard Nixon had a little nookie on the side.  Who can forget the wisdom of the Great Rumbling Organ, Henry Kissinger, who said that “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac” both for the hunter and the hunted?

Ask any man, and he will tell you that he can hire, fire, do budget projections, fight office warfare, wheedle and cajole, skate on the edge of risk and failure by day; and slip beneath the sheets with his paramour by night without missing a beat.  Or work the lathe and power drill on the afternoon shift and screw his neighbor’s wife after the whistle blows. There is simply no correlation between sexual adventure and on-time office performance.

Take Martin Luther King. According to most reports he was a Lothario, an insatiable pussy hound who now has an official American holiday named after him.  His “I have a dream” speech inspired millions.  His fearless protests against injustice are legendary.  His progressive views on the Vietnam disaster were prescient.  Who cared what he did after hours?

Bill Clinton led us through two terms of a balanced budget, no bellicose adventurism, important social reforms, a commitment to civil rights, and a presidency which he steered through the Scylla and Charybdis of the American Congress.  He has gone on to provide financial assistance to the Third World through his foundation, worked tirelessly for Obama on the campaign trail, and is an admirable example of a smart civil servant.  Did it matter that Monica Lewinsky blew him under the Presidential Desk? Or that he screwed that blonde cracker, Jennifer Flowers? 

Not in the least. In every country I travelled during the Lewinsky era, men were delighted to see that in the ordinarily tight-laced and Puritanical  United States, Clinton dropped his pants.  They were disappointed that he didn’t really have sex with Monica (“Depends on what is is”) and would have preferred him getting caught in delicto flagrante actually doing it, not just diddling; but at least it showed that there was red blood flowing in his veins.

The French of course have taken Presidential sexual sidebars with complete equanimity. Everyone knew that Francois Mitterrand not only had a mistress but had a child with her – while he was married for God’s sake – and no one ever batted an eyelash. Of course his mistress and illegitimate daughter mourned at his funeral.  They were just as much a part of his family as his ‘real’ family

Then there is the continuing sexual soap opera of France’s current president, Francois Hollande who is living in the Elysees with his current mistress.  His former mistress ran against him in recent primary elections and no one thought it surprising or funny.

Former French President Sarkozy carried on with his mistress, the actress Carla Bruni for a long time until they were married.  Few Parisians assume that the Presidential bed was the only one they slept in.

Carla Bruni Picture

So why are American women so upset at Spitzer and Weiner? Are they actually surprised that men running on Kissinger’s high-octane aphrodisiac screw around? Is it because of the slightly seedy nature of the sexual enterprise? Spitzer’s cinq-a-sept was not with Marilyn Monroe, but a hooker. Weiner didn’t have the balls to do anything but some sickly texting; and Clinton did it with a cigar.

If any one of these guys had gotten caught in a tryst, expressing their true love to a soul mate, women – never far from beauty shop romance and dime-store novels – would have swooned over their passion and sensitive side. But no, they had to do it on the down-low, sneak a few licks, and pretend like nothing happened, and therefore lost the confidence of the female electorate.  Mark Sanford, former Governor of South Carolina, temporarily disgraced because he went AWOL to be with is Argentine firecracker mistress, is now back in politics as a Congressman.  He married the firecracker.  He truly loved her and his passionate fugues were seen by women as expressions of a good heart.

Some politicians are never forgiven for their diddling no matter what they do. Some actions are simply beyond the Pale.  John Edwards was screwing around while his wife was dying of cancer, and he convinced one of his equally ambitious aides to take the fall for him concerning the paternity of his bastard child.  Newt Gingrich was just about as bad. Screwing around is one thing, but women will forgive you only under certain circumstances – and Gingrich and Edwards crossed the line.

This all leads to the Women are from Venus argument.  Women simply don’t get the fact that a man’s brain and his dick are not always connected.  We can do very competent work from 9-5, unzip our flies for a cinq-a-sept, and then go home for a nice home-cooked dinner with the family. Of course our dicks often trump our brains in our choices of sexual partners, in underestimating the risks we take, and in giving us an overweaning sense of male invincibility; but in general most of us handle the work-wife-mistress thing very well indeed.  No different from politicians. So, women, get over it.  Check how many goombas Spitzer locked up, the balanced budget of Clinton, the civil rights of MLK, the Great Society of LBJ – not who they fucked.

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