Does politics attract perverts?
Carlos Danger. If it weren’t so disturbing, it’d be hilarious. Anthony Weiner’s escapades are the stuff of SNL skits, but in the real world, he (and others like him) has bounced back from disgrace stemming from his personal life in a way that 50 years ago would have been unthinkable.
There’s a long list of political perverts, some of whom merely dallied in the occasional extramarital dalliance and others who embraced creepy with gusto.
Bill Clinton- Paula Jones brought a sexual harassment lawsuit against him when he made “unwanted advances”; he admitted to having “sexual contact” with Gennifer Flowers, a nude model and actress; he also has a couple grope and rape accusations to add to his dossier, and we all, unfortunately, know what happened between him and Miss Lewinsky in the Oval Office. Eliot Spitzer- made a name for himself in the scandal log by employing pricey prostitutes from the Emperors Club VIP. John Edwards- extramarital affair extraordinaire. Mark Sanford- made his affair more exciting by disappearing to a foreign land. Mark Foley- sexually explicit instant messages to a congressional page. Larry Craig: lewd conduct in a men’s bathroom; solicited undercover policeman for sexual activity. David Vitter: prostitution ring, sexting scandal. Bob Filner: “inappropriate comments, kissing, and groping.” Bob Menendez- accused of using underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic. David Petreaus, remember him?- sexcapades under the desk.
The list is long and far from comprehensive, and these are just some of the ones we know about. Another day another scandal. “Sexual misconduct” and other downright questionable behaviors plague the political arena. Is there something about politics that attracts people prone to debauchery, or does politics rot the moral core of the people it employs? Power is known to corrupt. The temptation to take a bribe here and there, to accept the occasional charitable gift…it’s understandable. But to send explicit pictures of oneself, to solicit filthy favors- who are these people?
Is monkey business frowned upon anymore, or is it simply another headline to liven up the weather report on the front page? Maybe my shock is rooted in naivete. Maybe most people in the world operate on a more risqué level, and these incidents are only noteworthy because the politicians who get caught are in the public eye.
Socrates posited in Plato’s Republic that only the virtuous should rule. Those who are least inclined to possess power are probably the most fit to be entrusted with it. It’s no coincidence that the most power-hungry people also end up being the least responsible when it comes to governing themselves. These people crave control so much that they’re willing to risk what little dignity they may have managed to salvage and run for office repeatedly, and the people allow it. Instead of “forgive and forget,” isn’t it time we said “enough is enough!” and learn to forgive and reset?