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Saturday, February 18, 2023

The Perks Of Office–How A Savvy Congressman Had His Sexual Escapades And Made A Fortune Too

Addison Farley (not his real name) was a newly-elected Member of Congress from a liberal district of a populous Midwestern state.  His district had been gerrymandered to guarantee the election of Democratic candidates, but Farley was applauded for his record in the state legislature, his tenure as Attorney General, and his successful campaign for a naval air station that employed hundreds.  Farley to all observers was a man of rectitude, moral propriety, fidelity, and trust; and the voters in his state felt lucky that they had elected a man who would assure a generous flow of treasury dollars and would be free from the scandals that had followed his predecessor.

John Boy Nichols, Farley’s predecessor, had been a populist politician who had been elected on great promises and an outsized personality.  John Boy was a dandy, never without arm candy and a shiny new car,  a man who spent walkin’ around money like it grew on trees.  He was famous for the no-show jobs he handed out, and the electoral sweeps that were assured every two years.  Until he was caught in flagrante delicto with Pilar Spanner, formerly Pike Spanner, hook-and-ladder commander, local hero, former football captain, but now a femme fatale more famous for the runways of Las Vegas than the burning silos, warehouses, and migrant housing of Farley’s  district. 

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John Boy’s constituents were by and large progressive, not surprising for an urban, upper middle class area of a prosperous state; but they drew the line at such sexual exposure.  They loved Bill Clinton even after Monica Lewinsky, forgave Martin Luther King for his stable of mistresses, John F. Kennedy for his shady Dominican lovers, and Lyndon Johnson for his tomcatting; but somehow they could not turn the other way when their man’s affair with Pilar, formerly Pike Spanner, came to light.  Not only was Nichols consorting with a tart, but he had chosen a sexual double-dealer, a ‘woman’ with a fullback’s shoulders, stiletto heels, acres of false eyelashes and painted nails, and a come-hither pout that had become a legendary trademark.

His electorate may have debated before pulling the lever for Addison Farley – after all, John Boy had brought home the bacon like none other – but they felt that it was the right thing to do.  Farley would refurbish the image of the district, reset the moral compass, and continue to flush millions its way but with transparency, honesty, and careful accounting.

For all intents and purposes Farley was a progressive’s progressive, a man who, devoted to civil rights, gay rights, the rights of women, and the environment, was tireless in the pursuit of justice.  Although he argued in favor of the gender spectrum, sexual choice, and the demise of heterosexual oppression, he skirted skirt the issue of transgenderism and trod very carefully when it came to drag queens and cross-dressers.  He became very agile at preaching inclusivity and sexual diversity without going overboard, for which his constituents were more than satisfied.

Once he took his seat in Congress, he immediately joined every radical progressive caucus and became a tireless supporter of their fights for liberation, social reform, and the dismantling of capitalism.  At the same time, he was a canny compromiser, and was able to trade favorable farm subsidies for urban infrastructure.  For a House freshman, he was surprisingly adept at such negotiations, and was treated as one of the boys before a year of his two had passed.

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However, somehow undetected by a credulous liberal base, Farley was also a consummate con artist, a shell game wizard, a well-dressed and high-toned snake oil salesman who could sell the Brooklyn Bridge.  He was progressive because his district was progressive.  He saw on which side his toast was buttered, endorsed every popular notion of social ‘justice’ and radical reform without an iota of real commitment, and cruised along with a very shallow wake.

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He was re-elected without fuss or fanfare, and settled into his second term.  Republicans were gaining a surprising foothold in the rural constituencies of his state, took power in the legislature, and rescinded the gerrymandering of Farley’s district.   It became more imperative that he hold on to his seat, given the slim Democratic majority in the House, and he found himself a favorite of Party leaders.  With their support and largesse, even despite the reconfiguration of his district, a win was guaranteed, and Farley became an indelible feature on the political scene.

As his political future became more and more secure, he found himself less and less eager to break his neck over issues on which he had run but which had become old chestnuts.  He never abided the received wisdom that the black man’s African civilizations were superior to those of Louis XIV, Henry VIII, or Augustus, Trajan, and Claudius; that women’s combination of compassion and intelligence made them the superior sex; and that socialist wealth distribution and exaggerated populist rule were worthy successors to capitalism; but now he felt comfortable enough to let them slide.  It was enough to provide a slice or two of bacon every so often without the fol-de-rol of idealism and faux notions of Utopian progress.

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Farley had been elected in a time of severe censorious Puritanism.  The MeToo movement had all but neutered men and sent them scurrying for the exits the minute an attractive woman entered the room.  Language was cleansed, social discourse reprimanded for the least infraction of approved nomenclature and historical reference, and behavior whipped into 17th century Salem order.

Yet real men paid this absurd anti-naturalist cloture of sexual expression no mind; and to a man, machismo was the ethos of Type A Washington.  There was no way that Senators, Congressmen, K Street lawyers, high-flying land developers were going to keep it in their pants.  Henry Kissinger said what every politician knew – power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.  There wasn’t a president who didn’t have sexual dalliances or fantasies about them; not one politician, not one man on the political make.  The peculiar Puritan wet blanket thrown over Washington made it difficult to operate, but operate they did.  Men had to be more careful, more judicious in their absences, and more recondite in their explanations, but nothing stopped them.

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Farley who had never had an ounce of the moral probity for which he was famous had no trouble picking up where his Lothario brothers left off.  However, whereas the likes of Clinton, John Edwards, and Mark Sanford got caught with their pants down, Farley was too smart for that.  He used every trick of the trade to escape the moral police, had his seductions and pleasures, and returned to his district with earnestness and infrastructure projects galore.

“You’re wasting your time”, said one of Farley’s House colleagues.  “There’s money to be made”.  Farley had been spending all this time and energy exercising one minor perk of power – sexual adventure – without even a second thought to the major one, immense wealth.  It wasn’t for nothing that Congressional finance committees sat in judgement of the likes of Bernie Madoff, the Enron Five, and Crypto Crook Sam Bankman-Fried.  The savviest and most ambitious members of these committees learned something useful.  Most were lawyers who had already learned how to skirt the law, and their legislative tenure taught them how to work the system of derivatives, off-shore accounts, and creative financial instruments.  No member of Congress should ever leave office empty handed.

Politics was the ultimate shell game.  Farley could go before his constituents and preach probity, social justice, and progressive reform and make hay while the sun shone on his corner office in the Rayburn Building.   The notches on his sexual belt increased geometrically while his bank account swelled.  When he retired – better safe than sorry, and better hang up your spurs before it is too late – he was feted by his constituents, fellow members of Congress, and the President of the United States.

“it’s been a good run”, he said in his farewell speech, and few in the audience knew exactly what he was talking about.

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