Sex and the Citizens, by John Ostrander
There are those of you out there who don’t regard politics as necessarily pop culture. And then there are those of us born in Chicago.
When you get down to it, is there anything more politically entertaining than a sex scandal? It appeals to our prurient interest; we get to be “shocked, shocked that this sort of thing is going on” while, at the same time, seeking out the really juicy details. They’re death to a politician’s career all around the world except, of course, in France where the lack of a mistress may be cause for impeachment.
The latest sex scandal, of course, is New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer’s consorting with prostitutes and paying big money to do it. He spent more money for two hours with one “escort” than a lot of us make in a month. (“Shocked, shocked.”) That loses him sympathy points right there, especially with a recession going on. Bill Clinton got his jollies for free from an intern but Spitzer paid big bucks via bank transfer, supposedly to keep from leaving a paper trail. That worked real good, didn’t it, Gov?
You know, of course, that as I write this there has to be a big hunt going on right now for that call girl, Kristen, named as the woman Spitzer spent over four grand for about two hours worth of whoopee. Whatever newspaper or book or magazine publisher that finds her had better have a checkbook because I guarantee she’ll have an agent by then because, damn it, the details she knows are the ones we all really want to hear. She sold her body to a privileged few for some big bucks; she won’t sell the story that everyone wants to hear for chump change. She’s a businesswoman; one high priced call girl in a TV interview called herself a “hofessional.” I like a woman who has a way with. . . words.
All of this just makes me scratch my head and wonder at a few things. We’ve seen a number of American sex scandals in the past few decades. To start with, why are all the Republican sex scandals gay? It doesn’t seem fair to the gay community to be tainted with the brush of Republicanism. You know there are gay Democrats as well but all the Dems who get caught seem to be boinking female bimbos. Okay, former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevy was the exception but it doesn’t change the Republican side of the aisle. Maybe we need a slogan like, “Gay Sex – It’s Not Just For Republicans Anymore.”
My bigger question is – and I bet a lot of you are asking this or a version of it – “What were they thinking?!” Spitzer was a high profile politician who made his rep as a reformer and crusader – and also made a lot of political enemies. Bill Clinton was the President of the United States who couldn’t keep it in his pants. He had more than one sex scandal and apparently learned nothing from his first escape. Gary Hart, when he was running for President, dared the media to link him to extramarital affairs that, since he was, they did.
There are those who might describe Spitzer’s fall as tragic; by definition, tragedy is a result of hubriswhich, by definition, is an overabundance of wrongful pride, a.k.a. arrogance. That sounds like Spitzer, by all accounts. However, the protagonist is a tragic hero and I’m not sure Spitzer, or Clinton, or many of the others qualify. From all accounts, he was a jerk and acted like a jerk and – while I’m sure this says terrible things about me – I find I don’t have much sympathy for him because he was a stupid jerk.
Like I said, Spitzer made his rep as a crusader, as someone who was above this kind of sleazy goings-on. He was in a high profile position, possibly considering an eventual run at the White House. Did he think he was that clever or that others were that stupid and he would never be found out?
Which brings me to my next question – WHY do they DO that? Spitzer and all the other political dopes who get caught?
Politicians have a lot to lose, especially the high profile successful ones. The real Third Rail in American politics is not talking about changes to Social Security but getting caught with your pants down. Americans love sex but disapprove of it; that keeps it dirty which is what, for us, makes it so damn interesting. But get caught in “illicit” sex and your political career is over. So – why risk it?
My guess is that it’s probably not about the sex itself. I’m thinking it’s more about POWER. It’s like the person who once defended driving his rotten gas mileage SUV. He said he could afford the gas and everyone who couldn’t was just envious of him. (This is another bad example of a male mistaking his drive shaft for his penis.) The errant politicians do it because they can and, in their view, every other male would as well if they could. Me? I look, I admire, but I don’t touch. I know what I got and I’m not going to risk it. It would break faith in ways that I don’t think can be repaired. Which, come to think of it, is what happened with Elliot Spitzer.
Which brings up yet another question – WHY do the wives always have to stand at the podium with these assholes when their hubbies get caught doing the naughty where they oughtn’t? Is it really the wife’s idea? Or is it the idea of the miscreant’s aides who, I’ll give you odds, knew the score and made damn sure Wifey never heard about it. Now, despite the anger, the betrayal, and the humiliation she must be feeling – which would be natural to feel – she has to Stand By Her Man? Can we all agree that this concept is from an old, outdated, and useless country and western song and let it go? Can we spare these women?
What am I thinking of? OF COURSE NOT! It’s part of the entertainment! We get to play it with the sound off and turn it into Mystery Political Science Theater 2008 and make rude remarks and say what we think she MUST be thinking. Maybe re-write his speech so he’s being a little more honest. Now THAT’S entertainment!
Thing is – you can’t take sex out of politics. We demand it. Our candidates should have a certain sexy charm. Why is Obama beating Hillary? He’s sexier than she is. The sexiest thing about Hillary is Bill.
When we’re drawn to someone, we’re drawn initially to our IDEA of him or her. And we’re presenting an idea of who we are to the other person. Please gawd – not the real self. We’d never get to first base that way. One of Barack Obama’s strongest draws is that we’re in that first stage of love with him – when we’re in love with the idea of Barack Obama. Hilary? Eh, been there, know her. Obama, however, is still sexy.
I mean that in a butch, non-Republican way.
Spitzer’s scandal will be over by the weekend. By the time he actually leaves the governor’s office next Monday, he’ll already be a footnote except for maybe the national news magazines. Literally, last week’s news.
Unless we find Kirsten the Call Girl. Then it gets juicy again. Heeeeeeere, Kirsten Kirsten Kirsten. Sit.Speak!
Oh, good ho!
John Ostrander writes GrimJack: The Manx Cat, new installments of which appear every Tuesday here on ComicMix, and much of Munden’s Bar, new installments of which will reappear anon here on ComicMix. Both for free. His new Suicide Squadmini-series is out there from DC Comics, and his Star Wars: Legacy is out there from Dark Horse, both at finer comics shops across the galaxy.