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.
I think you missed the Rudy Giuliani and Judith Nathan scandal. This was an extramarital affair that Giuliani used creative accounting practices to cover up while he was mayor of New York. He provided Nathan a car and police driver at the city's expense. She made the driver chauffeur her family around like it was her private Taxi service. http://www.motherjones.com/mojoblog/archives/2007…This was a heterosexual, Republican scandal that may have proved as much Giuliani's undoing as a Presidential Candidate as his clumsy political strategy. His campaign was so ruinously still born that's it's hard to know exactly what's to blame for it's failure. But, this scandal isn't about the tawdry sexual secrets, the real meat of the scandal revolves around Giuliani's off-hand abuse of money and power.I think Hillary's campaign for President has been hurt by Clinton's affairs. Some admire her courage and fortitude, being able to maintain and seemingly strengthen her marriage after the series of infidelities by her husband. I have heard others express it as a sign on weakness on her part, that she did not kick Bill to the curb and dump him back when they were in office. It's rhetorical, but I doubt that "the Woman Who Divorced the President" could have been able to even get elected to the Senate. Then again (and I know, this is an unfair characterization), it's hard to see where someone's loyalties lie, when they are able to find the strength to continue to love someone who has repeatedly, personally betrayed them.
Guliani is, as we all know, a special case. I expect photos and a story of how transvestite Rudy was caught in a tryst with candidate Rudy having sex with himself.
John, you wanted to find "Kristen," well here she is: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/13/nyregion/12cnd-…And if you want to get more personal, here is her MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/ninavenetta
She was found in my local paper, too. I suspect LOTS of papers are running with it. The Springfield newspaper in the Simpsons is probably carrying it. I also note that she can't be found for comment and her lawyer is not commenting AT THIS TIME — which suggests to me that he's fielding offers.
Then again, she might just be a scared young woman, who has found herself thrust into the international spotlight and she doesn't know how to respond. Making money off the tabloids might be sleazy. Is that MORE or LESS sleazy than being a prostitute? Is earning something from her infamy a way up from the social gutter or is it a lateral move? She wants to be a singer. If she has talent, is it moral or justifiable for her to use this bit of infamy as the launching point for a career?
It's always the righteous ones that have the furthest to fall.
So instead of trading her body for rent (she gets 10% of the pimp's price) this one might get a house out of the deal. Lot's more than she bargained for but not exactly a new leaf or a new chance. When the fame-maker called, her lucky number was up. And, btw, according to very serious documentaries on HBO, the prices compare to what they get at the Chicken Ranch. They probably don't put that on the web site.
"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."Boy howdy on that – a fond family legend is of the time my great-grandfather (this would be the Bohemian draft-dodger, i think) came along to re-open his saloon in Cicero one Sunday afternoon, and discovered future Mayor Anton Cermak perched on the bar while the guard dog sat patiently by; apparently Cermak had been passed out in one of the booths when he closed the joint for the mandated four hours (or whatever) on Sunday morning.I think great-grandad is still voting the Democratic Party line in every election.More recently, i used to spend a lot of time in New Orleans and Folsom LA – the state where a semi-official Democratic Party slogan in a primary was "Vote for the crook – it's important!" and where a political analyst once remarked of two candidates for Governor, one of whom had already been convicted once of embezzling, i believe – "The people like [Candidate B], but they don't trust him. They trust [Candidate B], but they don't like him.""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. "I think Clinton more or less thought that the same rules of engagement (as it were) that had been in effect during the Kennedy years would cover him, too. He's brilliant but sometimes not too bright.Hart might well have been able to ride it out, but he demonstrated his tendency to panic in a crisis and withdrew before he needed to. Which is just as well with me, because a man who would panic like that is *not* what we need in the Oval Office. (Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan becomes President precisely because the President is one such, who completely blows a crisis and has to step down.)I just read a piece that says CNN is saying that, perhaps, they made a bad choice of on-air political commentator:"[CNN brought in] former U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey to comment on the scandal involving New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer. The cable news network made no mention of the fact that Coffey himself was forced to quit his job in 1996 after he was accused of biting a topless dancer at an adult nightclub." (http://imdb.com/news/sb/2008-03-13/#11)The Miami Herald remarked that he was, perhaps, overqualified as an analyt on this, or words to that effect.
I thought David "This is not my beautiful governor" Byrne had a pretty good comment about all of this on his blog: "why haven’t we been provided the names of clients one through eight? It goes without saying that all are wealthy men, and there are probably a few other politicians among them. The prostitution ring — the Emperor’s Club V.I.P. — was under federal wiretap, so they MUST know the identities of the others. There are probably a lot more than nine clients too, eh, so why have their identities not been released? Though they vigorously deny it, it sure smells like a Republican setup." Wheels within wheels!