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

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Mookie Grillo–How A Down Neck Goomba Won Over The City Of Newark

Errol Impellizieri was a successful businessman who grew up in Newark, had a house in Mantoloking, and was building a “mansion” in Matawan for his wife. No matter where he moved, he was still a Nicky Nork. In Newark if you didn’t have a house in Neptune, you had one at Omaha Beach. If you had a little bit of money, you moved to Mantoloking, your wall-to-walls were a little bit thicker, you had more convertible furniture, but you were still a hot-combed, manicured, goomba with a high-roll collar.

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Errol's father ran a smoke shop in Newark when he was a kid, the kind with girlie magazines in the back behind the cigars. Errol kept his eyes open when he wasn’t whacking off in the can with a copy of Pussy Cat, and learned enough about sales, inventory, customer demand, and product to get him started in the production end of the Jersey porno business. 

He moved up in the porno world, then got Mookie Grillo’s  father – his brother – to bankroll him with some family money. He set up Errol Productions, fronted with a lot of soft porn, but as hard core as you could get in the late 50s. He got into mail order, sex paraphernalia, and rubbers; then built a roofing business which made him a millionaire.

With piece of the profits, Errol had built the Matawan mansion. Out of sentimentality, he fashioned the back patio to look exactly like the Down Neck house he grew up in as a kid. He even bought the back siding and patio storm door from the owner of his old house, laid down a plastic grass carpet, and build a vinyl roof just like Down Neck.

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Errol's oldest child, Flora, went into the roofing business with her father, but they soon began to squabble. He wanted her to be in charge of the Central Jersey operations, but she refused, saying she had had enough of his Nicky Norks when she was growing up, and wanted to try her luck farther south, on the Main Line. Her father gave in, and she took over the Philadelphia office. A few months later she was caught in flagrante with a Maytag sales rep in a motel in Neptune. Her father had heard of her fling and had her followed.

The pictures the private eye had taken of the motel surfaced a week later in the Jersey Journal – Errol was always big news. The paper had juxtaposed a picture of the motel with one of her back patio – the motel in Neptune was a commercial version of her house in Matawan – and basically said “once a guinea, always a guinea”. She had been dévoilée and never made the news again.

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Errol's wife, Angela, never got over it, but rather than sulk, she made it her business to rehabilitate Errol's name. She became involved in charity work and, with Errol's money, worked her way down the Jersey Shore towards Philadelphia. 

By that time Errol had made his millions, and his wife spent more and more of it for good causes. She financed the Angela Errol wing of the Lower Marion Mother of Mercy Hospital, the Angela Errol Pavilion of the Upper Darby Little Sisters of the Poor Convalescent Home; and finally, her goal of acceptance and reconstruction of the family name complete, the Angela Errol Pavilion of the Bryn Mawr Sibley Memorial Hospital.

Fed up with his daughter and his wife, Errol  showered all his attention on his nephew, Mookie, and got him a half-show job at the Newark Redevelopment Authority. He apologized to Mookie for not being able to get him a no-show job. The Authority’s payroll was already stretched because half the people on it were no-shows and no work got done by the other half. Lou Bazano, the Executive Director kept adding no-shows because they kicked back half their salaries directly into his pocket.

After six months of Authority bullshit, Mookie wanted some action, so he and two of his goomba friends from Down Neck, Billy, Harry, and Lou Petrucci, started up their old car dumping business. They got rid of cars down at the port for Nicky Norks who got in debt from too much rococo furniture and needed the insurance money to cover it. They made a few bucks, and it beat hanging out Down Neck.

In recent months, however, there was a space problem. When Mookie got started dumping cars, you could drop them over the side at any pier. Now, it was hard to find a spot. The economy was picking up, Port Newark got more commercial traffic than ever before, and freighters were tied up at half the piers. Goombas from the North Ward had started dumping cars, and the field was getting crowded; and Nicky Norks were using the port instead of the Meadowlands’ to get rid of small shit. Dumping an Olds one night Mookie said he saw three pieces of a bedroom set he lifted off a truck sticking out of the water at Pier 47.

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Some nights you had to drive down to the end of the dock to find a place to get rid of your car. It was dark down there, much of the the wooden planking was rotted out, and it was a long way back, particularly if you had to leave in a hurry. On one night they passed pier after pier with no luck. Fifteen through twenty-five had freighters and tankers tied up. Twenty-six was where the furniture was dumped. Twenty-eight was the goombas’ dump.

“There’s a lot of fish down there”, said Billy.

“Are you crazy? It’s a fucking underwater junkyard”, said Lou.

“It’s the reef effect. I saw it on TV. Dumped cars is like coral reefs after a while. Fish like to hang out there. You could scuba dive”.

“And what do you think you would see? Fucking eels? There ain’t nothing down there but used scumbags and sofas.”

At Pier 31 Mookie could see two cars, the front half of one is hanging off the edge of the pier; the other, a Cadillac, is maneuvering for position to push it into the water. Mookie recognized the car and the driver, another goomba from Down Neck, Joe Fanucci. Fanucci had let his kid brother do the dumping to give him some practice; but the the kid jumped out too soon, knocked the shift lever into reverse on his way out and jammed the transmission solid.

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Fanucci gently nudged the car up to the back bumper of the goofball’s car. “Don’t take its temperature, asshole. Push it!”, yelled Harry.

But the Caddie was not much bigger than the Pontiac, and Fanucci couldn’t move it. His back tires whined and smoked, and splinters from the wooden dock shot out from behind. Lights went on in the Greek freighter docked at the next pier.

While they all stood around thinking, Fanucci went over to the warehouse behind the dock and climbed into a fork lift that was parked near some empty crates of whisky. In a few minutes, he got the engine started and in a cloud of black diesel smoke floated towards us.

Fanucci positioned the fork under the rear bumper, fiddled with the levers in the cab, and gunned the engine. Instead of lifting the rear of the car, the fork swung out from underneath. The lift whirled in a complete circle, the fork slicing towards Andy who jumped like a Cossack to avoid the prongs. Andy went for Fanucci, who shut the door of the cab. “Try it out first, you asshole. Why do you think there’s different levers?”

Fanucci figured out the levers, moved the forklift back into position under the back of the Pontiac, and began to lift. As he did, the car began to slide forward and slowly tip farther over the edge of the pier. When the back wheels were about to go over, Fanucci stopped the lift and hollered, “I can’t go no more. I’ll go over with the fucking car”. The two huge prongs of the fork were too wide for the Pontiac, had gotten impaled on the fenders, and were sticking out like cow horns. The front wheels of the forklift were now off the ground; the front end of the Pontiac half-way down the wall of the pier and suspended over the water.

“Everybody move back”, Fanucci yelled. “I’m jumpin’ out”

The cab of the forklift, however, was perched high up over the engine, and to clear the door-guards and the wheels, Fanucci would have to jump more than four feet sideways. Fanucci was even fatter than Charlie Broglio, who, after Mookie’s uncle had gotten him a job with the Sanitation Department, found he couldn’t fit into the cab of the garbage truck. “He don’t even fit in the truck”, the supervisor said to Mookie’s uncle. “Get him the fuck out of here”.

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Fanucci revved up the engine, opened the cab door, and put the forklift in forward. The Pontiac groaned and whinged as it went over the side, pulling the forklift down on top of it. As both vehicles went down, the rotten guts of Port Newark came floating up – scummy tires, chunks of mattress, slimy, rotten shoes.

The next day, the story of fat Fanucci went around the Housing Authority. By the time it made the rounds and came back again, everything had gotten all twisted. It was not just some goofball’s car that got dumped but a connected guy’s car that Harry had stolen. He had sold it to a Nicky Nork who got cold feet when he found out who it belonged to and paid Fanucci to dump it.

According to the story, it was not Fanucci’s brother who had fucked up the transmission, but some dickhead from Queens who was just visiting him; and when he had told Fanucci that he had done a lot of dumping in his day, he implied bodies not cars even though he had never dumped more than a refrigerator.

Fanucci had been so fixated on setting up a car-dumping pyramid scheme where he would take a cut each time a goofball’s car went over the side and wouldn’t have to do it himself, he didn’t catch the innuendo, and wouldn’t have been impressed if he had. Fanucci had a reputation for dumping live bodies in the river. The cement shoes went on before the goofball was dead.

Besides, the dickhead who wanted in on the car dumping didn’t even have a driver’s license. He had gotten it pulled by the NYPD not only for causing three crashes on the B.Q.E but because his double dickhead uncle tried to fix the citations like they were parking tickets on Mulberry Street. Not that you needed a license to dump cars, Esta Drucker said; and you certainly didn’t need brains if Mookie, Harry, and Andy could do it.

It was all bullshit. If it had been the day after bowling night, none of it would have ever come up.

Mookie was a Down Neck legend – a goomba through and through, a shifty marionette with all the right moves – the no-show job, dumping Caddies at the port, nickel bags in the attic, errands for the silk suits – and soon he was wearing his own Gucci and gabardine.  That’s what was so good about the mob in Newark – they rewarded loyalty and patience.  Mookie missed his old crew; but without him Harry and Andy got caught and sent up.  The Port Authority cracked down on illegal dumping and added patrols to the night watch, and the insurance companies caught on to the scams and started harassing Mookie’s former clients.  It was a new world, the blacks were taking over, and anyone wanting to business in Newark had to learn their way of hustle and muscle; but after one of Alderman Jackson’s biggest rivals was found in the salt marshes of the Meadowlands, Mookie and the guineas were open again for business.

Mookie is well into his eighties now, but still remembered by the old folks.  He spends most of his time in Florida with his grandchildren who know little about his past.  “Better they don’t know”, Mookie said. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

‘I’ve Been Saved’– Joe Biden And Jesus In The White House

Progressives have always been dismissive of religion, the opiate of the people, fol-de-rol, whoopn’ and hollerin’, vaudeville, popery, and terrorism ; so when Joe Biden who, despite more quiet and reserved  tenures as Vice-President and Senator, said he had found Jesus, his supporters were nonplussed.  How could a man so committed to secular issues have fallen so far? How could a man for whom religion had no place in a progressive America and had been a brake on social reform become all good news and happy talk? What had happened over that now notorious weekend at Camp David?

“I found the Lord”, the President said.

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Of course any practical questioning – how, why, where, etc. – was irrelevant.  As born-again Christians will tell you (and as the Rev. Harley Phipps, a Southern Baptist with long evangelical roots explained to the President’s staff), there is no rhyme or reason to His coming, just a miraculous arrival thanks to prayer, an open heart, grace, and spiritual desire.

The conversion of the President, a Catholic, was no less than a miracle.  For a papist, a lifelong  believer in the Holy Mother Church, a devotee of Mary and the saints, priestly celibacy, and fasting, to have accepted the true Jesus, taken him into his heart and pledged allegiance to him as his personal Savior and Savior of the world, was revolutionary.

Now that the President had received the good news, he always wore a smile – a goofy one, said his detractors who claimed that this was but one more sign of senility – but the Old Joe, said his supporters who had become increasingly worried about the sourness of their President whose “Hey, man” retorts and abrupt departures from the podium were not good signs, was back.  They were reminded of Hubert Humphrey, the Happy Warrior, who felt that politics did not have to be the dogfight it had become, but an exercise in compassion, love, and conciliation.

The Rev. Harley Phipps, was formerly Biden’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Interracial Affairs, a go-between for the President with the black community.  The President really did not need one, of course, as committed as he was to civil rights and the restoration of the black man to his rightful place in society, but he could not talk black like Bill Clinton could, a man who understood the lot of America’s colored (Rev. Phipps was an older man with an older generation's language) people and not only promoted them in principle, but in deed.  He was at home with black people, delighted in their company, and was one of them.   Joe Biden was a stiff totem, a man whose political allegiance to minorities was indisputable, but whose personal identification with them was nil.

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Now the Reverend Phipps was called on for something far more important – spiritual counselor to the President, a latter day Billy Graham.  The President was particularly drawn to Phipps’ black country church evangelical upbringing.  He had found Jesus as a boy, preached to the Ebenezer Baptist Church of Lavely, Mississippi as a ten-year old, and was sent by his congregation to the Bobby Ilkins School of Divinity and Prophecy for his Doctorate of Divinity.  

It was after his graduation that he had been persuaded by his local Congressman and member of Ebenezer Baptist to come to Washington to share his particularly graceful spiritual innocence with the nation.  It wasn’t long before he caught the eye of committee chairmen, White House liaisons, and Senate aides, and after years of quietly paying his dues, he was invited by Biden to serve in his Administration

As a preacher Phipps had been an animated, supercharged dynamo of passion, rectitude, and belief.  Every Sunday his church was filled to the rafters to hear him preach.  He drew from a well of natural inspiration but was also well-versed in the Bible.  He could be critical of wayward souls, but he was always conciliatory and welcoming.  ‘Jesus loves sinners’, he said.  “Come to the Lord, and you will be saved”.  He was the perfect counselor for the President whose epiphany at Camp David was transformative.  

Biden said that he felt a trembling as the Lord entered him, filling his space with love and goodness.  He wanted to stand up and shout, run around the Camp grounds, and praise the Lord, only held back from doing so by the Secret Service who were worried about his competence.

Taking a leaf from the Congressional playbook, the President instituted the spiritual invocation that had opened every day’s session of the House.  Whereas Congress skirted the obvious church-state issue by rotating religions – evangelical Protestant preachers were always preferred but had to wait their turn in the rotation of Catholics, Jews, and Muslims – the President made no bones about his spiritual allegiance to Jesus Christ.  His Oval Office prayers would be Christian, he would intersperse his speeches with references to Jesus and his apostles, and he would quote the Bible often and well.

Always at his side was the Reverend Phipps, whispering in his ear, reviewing drafts of his speeches, meeting with him in private to pray and to give counsel.   Phipps was dutiful, and felt privileged to have such a trusted place in government.  Secretly he was overjoyed at this chance to evangelize on a grand scale.  If the President listened to him, so would the whole country.

‘Church and State – Is Biden Impeachable?’ asked newspapers of record and media outlets of all political views.  Of course not, retorted his legal spokesperson.  The Constitution is very clear on the issue – no matter what the forum, no public official must ever impose any one religion on anyone else.  However, the expression of faith is not an imposition, but the right of every American.  In fact the increasing secularization of America exposed the very need for spiritual rejuvenation.

‘Hallelujah”, answered the President.

Political conservatives were delighted.  They had always been overwhelmingly Christian, fundamentalist, and immovable in their faith in Jesus and the truth of his word.  They were never sure what to do with Jimmy Carter, a liberal Democrat and a devout Christian, but dismissed him summarily because of his secular views.  A true Christian would never behave this way, they said.   

They never even gave Joe Biden a second look.  Although a desultory lip-service Catholic, he could at any moment return to his parochial roots and become beholden to the Vatican.  Yet when he returned from Camp David a profoundly changed man, they changed their opinion.  Hated though he might be for his tax-and-spend policies, his glorification of the gender-altered, and refusal to stand for traditional American, patriotic values, his conversion won many of them over.

They were rewarded.  The President now sided with the bakers who refused gay cakes, against teachers’ unions whose race-gender educational distortions had become traitorous, and for the restoration of all previously cancelled historical figures who were, in the President’s words, ‘children of God’ and their Christian faith trumped any temporal, time- and era-based political decisions.

Progressives, whose distance from religion was always disingenuous at best and deceptive at worst, came out loudly and angrily at this baldly unconstitutional behavior by the President.  Religion was not only a brake on progressive reform, nor was it merely an obstacle in its way.  It was counter-revolutionary, ignorant, and anti-historical.

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“Let us bow our heads in a moment of silent prayer”, the President said on the South Lawn on Veterans Day to a group of military men and women who had gathered in tribute to their comrades, "for our heroic brothers and sisters who have responded patriotically to their country’s call and performed bravely and admirably; and most of all for those who have given their lives and now reside with Jesus”.

His aides had pleaded with the President to leave out this last clause, sure to enrage his progressive base.  His Administration was, after all, built on the premise of diversity and inclusivity.  Jesus might be his Lord, but not everyone’s.  The President respectfully disagreed and said that those who saw an empty chair in heaven or believed in false prophets could ignore his words at their peril.  Judgment Day was not far off.

“Please, Mr. President”, stick to the here and now, his closest advisors counselled to no avail.  The President had gone around the bend, and he would be soon removed from office.  “I don’t care”, the President replied, “I am in His hands and in His heart.  I am His and His alone”.

Biden was not the first President to avow his deeply-held Christian faith.  Other than Jimmy Carter, McKinley was a devout Christian who avoided drinking, swearing, and smoking and other “sins.” He was a regular church attender while in office and according to eyewitnesses was enthusiastic about his faith.  He also believed that the government had a duty to spread both democracy and the Christian religion abroad. McKinley’s last words before death were reportedly, “Good-bye, good bye, all. It’s God’s way. His will, not ours, be done. Nearer my God to Thee, nearer to Thee.”

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President Madison was a faithful Episcopalian who signed a federal bill to appropriate funds for Bible distribution. Madison served on the Congressional committee that established and selected Congressional chaplains and he encouraged all public officials to openly declare their faith. Later in life, president Madison retracted many of his beliefs–arguing that government-paid chaplains and president-led prayers were unconstitutional–but he is still one of America’s most religious heads of state.

Though Lincoln often struggled with faith, he often utilized religious language and quoted the Bible in public speeches. Many of Lincoln’s friends attested to his personal conversion.

After his epiphany, however, Biden became far and away the most outspoken, uninhibited, tireless Christian ever to reside in the White House.  Until his electoral defeat, he was more preacher than President, more evangelical prophet than secular leader.  “Jesus loves me”, the President responded, no matter what the question, the occasion, or the venue.  “One of us, one of us”, chanted the members of the Ebenezer Baptist Church urged on in glorious praise by the Reverend Harley Phipps.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Sexy Beast–Joe Biden And The Terrible Waste Of The Aphrodisiac Of Power

The White House has always been a seamy place.  JFK bedded actresses, spies, and Marilyn Monroe there. LBJ’S Secret Service detail pimped for him, and every president in history with a few exceptions had liaisons, trysts, lovers, and mistresses.  It was a perk of the office, a given, one of the few unadulterated pleasures of the presidency.

Rare Marilyn Monroe Photos - 15 Pictures of Marilyn Monroe

Now it is a dry, humorless, and sexless place – a parsonage, a shuttered priory, a musty cellar of penitence, a dismal place. After all, dalliances have their consequences not only for marriage but for the nation, and Biden remembers how women turned against Bill Clinton saying they could not trust him to lead the country if he could not be faithful to his wife.  

Clinton’s wife, of course, put up with his infidelities, trailer-trashy and inconsequential as they were, Jackie Kennedy, Lady Bird, and all the rest, unwilling to risk their positions as First Ladies but actually proud to have such virile, uncompromising men in their bed, turned a blind eye.

Bill Clinton’s Oval Office interludes with Monica Lewinsky were snickered at by men everywhere.  Here was the most powerful man in the world, heir to the great lovers of the White House, who diddled in his Presidential Chair with a groupie when he could have had any woman any way. 

When Clinton parsed ‘depends what is is’ deconstructing ‘sex’ before Congress like the legal scholar that he was, he was finally being honest.  No respectable man would ever consider the tawdry fellatio of Monica other than ‘depending’, not the real thing, not the macho taking of a woman but sitting there in his swivel chair, eyes closed, being taken.

President Mitterrand of France never denied his assignations or mistresses, and weeping openly at his grave were his longtime mistress, his illegitimate daughter, and his wife. 

Letters to mistress reveal Mitterrand's passion | World | The Times

One of his successors, Nicolas Sarkozy had an open affair with his actress mistress Carla Bruni who lived in the Elysees with him.  No one doubts the lovers of Putin and the concubines of Xi.  Even the Iranian mullahs, as ascetic and censorious as their public office demands, are still legatees of the harems of the East when pashas slept with different beautiful women every night.  

Henry VIII never stopped with his six wives, nor was any other Henry content with the women approved by court and state.  Shahs, shoguns, emperors, princes, kings, courtiers, prime ministers and presidents all had lovers and mistresses.

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Henry Kissinger once stated that power was the ultimate aphrodisiac.  No woman could resist a man of power; no man of power could resist the allure of a beautiful woman.  Even abstemious Jimmy Carter, one of the few faithful American presidents, admitted that he had lust in his heart, quoting the Bible in a confession of sexual desire.  Under other unnamed circumstances, he might act on that frustrated lust, but not as long as he was seen to be the model of rectitude, moral posture, and absolute fidelity.

Abstemiousness, or at least sexual reserve, is partisan. Donald Trump was a Republican’s Republican.  He squired beauty queens, was always seen with a coterie of seductive women, and gave no apologies for his machismo.  He was not only an example of Kissinger’s aphrodisiac power; he lived in a non-censorious, non-politically correct world where sexual affairs were not only condoned but admired.  Trysts with beautiful women went along with yachts, homes in Rimini and Gstaad, limousines, and banquets and was indeed Republican.  Money, power,  and sex were interchangeable currencies.

Progressive Democrats are equally consistent but diametrically different.  Their universe is dark and purposeful. There is no room for dalliance when there are so many problems in the world to solve. Combatting global warming, misogyny, homophobia, and racism requires assiduous effort.  As importantly women are not men’s playthings, but minds in universal bodies – physical shells without sexuality, only housing for the intellect.  Given these two arbitrary constructs, it is no wonder that Joe Biden’s White House is a cold, sexless place.

There is not an eighty year old man alive who has given up on the idea of sex.  Whether or not men of a certain age can perform with the same virility as decades before is of no issue.  The obsession with sex is a lifetime affair, and thanks to Viagra men well past their prime can enjoy women.  While Biden’s women might not be the caliber of Marilyn Monroe, nor sexually aroused by him, his office permits sexual lease, purchase, and exchange. 

Eliot Spitzer, the former Governor of New York frequented high-end prostitutes at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington.  He had neither time nor inclination to pursue women – he was a difficult man with little patience – so beautiful, talented, experienced prostitutes were just fine.  Rings of such beautiful women for sale and the guarantee of absolute security of silence were common in Washington; but word got out anyway, and the cancel culture had its way. Adulterous sex was a hanging offense, and he was dunned out of office.

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Welcome To New York is Abel Ferrara’s movie about a wealthy, powerful, promiscuous French politician who is accused of rape by a New York City prosecutor.

The movie is loosely based on the story of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former head of the International Monetary Fund and presumptive President of France who was accused by an African maid of rape.  The prosecutor, Cyrus Vance Jr. overstepped his bounds, apparently motivated by political ambition, and pursued the case against Strauss-Kahn despite increasingly exculpatory evidence, and it was dismissed.  Strauss-Kahn returned to France, his political career ruined, but because of his financial genius, remained a well-remunerated consultant.

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Ferrara’s story, however, is not a fictionalized account of a long legal process nor a biopic of Strauss-Kahn.  It is the tale of an unashamed philanderer who refuses to be put in the cage of conventional morality.  He is neither proud of nor guilty over his infidelities and sexual appetites.  It is who I am, he says, a self-described libertine whose supposed immorality is other people’s problem, not his.

The real-life Strauss-Kahn was no less defiant.  When he flippantly rejected charges of procuring, he said that he had no idea that the women at a party he attended were prostitutes.  “All women look the same without their clothes”, he said.  “I did no wrong”. 

The wife of the fictional Strauss-Kahn, played by Jacqueline Bisset, has stayed with her husband for twenty years less out of love for him than her desire to be First Lady of France.  Her fabulous wealth is not enough, and only the position of La Présidente will satisfy her ambition.  She knows her husband well, and has tolerated if not accepted his sexual profligacy because it is inconsequential and irrelevant given the intellectual brilliance and political savvy of the man.

At the same time Devereaux  – the Strauss-Kahn of the Ferrara film – knows that his wife will never leave him.   He, then, has it all.  He is wealthy and powerful on his own merits, is awarded even more wealth and status because of his wife’s family, and free to be as licentious and sexually active as he wishes.

Joe Biden could be another Strauss-Kahn.  Nothing is holding him back except the censorious ethos of the times – the damning, Puritanical, intolerant prudery of the Left.

On the other hand, perhaps Joe Biden really and truly loves his wife and has never thought of another woman. Biographies of Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter describe their devoted, loving, faithful relationships with their wives; and Biden might be in the same small, surprising group. Unlikely but possible.

A celibate presidency is a waste.  As in the Strauss-Kahn example, Presidents can have their cake and eat it too; and Biden in the few years remaining to him in office may come around. You never know.