Lust is the great equalizer among men, the force that unites Republican and Democrat, foreign diplomat and President, in embarrassment and disgrace.
One would think wealth and power would be enough, but of course they are not, and for some men power clearly increases lust. And lust, it appears, renders such men drooling, babbling liars and morons unable to confront their own self-destructive behavior until it is far too late. We public are then subjected to the grand spectacle of “the fall from grace,” the mea culpa song of horny men who can’t keep it in their pants.
That sex has undone men of power is nothing new; Mark Anthony threw away his power, prestige and life over Cleopatra, after all. But one would think that in this modern day and age, when media and technology catch nearly every word or gesture, the powerful could be smarter and wiser than they are.
Shall I count the fools? Senators Gary Hart and John Edwards, President Bill Clinton, Governors Terry Sanford, Elliot Spitzer and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Congressmen Chris Lee and Anthony Weiner, International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and who knows how many more yet to be revealed. And revealed they will be I assure you.
With each new scandal one thinks, “OK, the lesson must have been learned by now,” but we underestimate the seductions of power. For those too weak to lead with dignity, decorum and grace (and it is weakness – nothing more) the lust of power is too much. Such men, despite their achievements, are failures. They fail to understand that with great power comes greater responsibility, and respecting the public trust of political power, in particular. Such failure reveals how often a man-child is elected in America, a charming charismatic fellow with good teeth and nice suit, but the emotional development and self-control of an adolescent.
Some say private sexual behavior is not the public’s business, and in general this is true. What happens in the bedroom or even online is nobody’s business, but those who are elected are not nobody, and today everybody is watching and talking. Perhaps self-control is too much to expect from a grown man; in the 70’s we labeled bad behavior “testosterone poisoning.” There are even those, I suspect, who enjoy the idea of guys who cheat and carry on with women less than half their age. But in politicians this trait is particularly loathsome and unseemly; such dishonesty leaves a stain that cannot be removed. From dalliance to deceit; theft, graft and payoffs are just a hop, skip and a jump.
Some powerful men love risk; adrenaline and testosterone make their lives more exciting. The public figures who secretly engage in sexcapades do so knowing what is at risk, but are inextricably drawn to such adventure like moths drawn to a flame. Having put themselves on the line in competitive elections, sat at meetings with the rich and powerful and having paid staff to cover their flanks, a sense of invulnerability grows and with it an increasing need for greater risk. Such behavior has all the earmarks of addiction and such men want to be caught and stopped.
I’ve never believed in adulthood, it’s just a myth, and powerful men who can’t keep it in their pants is all the proof I need.