I guess it's time. I've been pretty good for quite a while. But every once in a while I have to get frustrated and shoot off my mouth. Today it's sex in politics. It all started with the partially revelatory news conference this morning by South Carolina Republican Governor Mark Sanford. He'd been missing from the governor's office for about a week and finally people started asking questions. The governor's staff said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.
But The State - a newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina - had received some e-mails from an anonymous tipster, purportedly from the governor to a woman in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They were, to coin a phrase, carefully explicit. Editors at The State decided the governor might be in Buenos Aires and took a chance on sending a reporter to the big airport in Atlanta, Georgia. Sure enough, she spotted the guv getting off a plane from B.A. and confronted him. He spoke a little about his trip but then began waffling and broke it off. A few hours later back home in Columbia, he spoke to the news media and admitted he'd been having an affair with a woman from Buenos Aires. (SWMBO said early in his news conference - well, he hasn't said yet whether it was a woman or a man!) She and all of us have become accustomed to politicians 'fessing up to an affair with a woman or even a homosexual partner.
I say it's the power. Politicians have this sense of power. It's partly because of the naivety of the women who surround the pol, who seemingly worship at his feet, who think his powerful job makes him sexy. But it's the responsibility of the politician to recognize that mindless worship and deter or ignore it, not to succumb to it.
I used to cover politics as a news reporter and I saw constant evidence of these failings on the part of politicians. They have "groupies" . . . just like musicians or sports figures . . . and the object of them is to . . . how to put this . . . "hook up" with the figure. His power, his fame, then becomes theirs.
So . . . who have we seen among the fallen?
Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina, a Republican.
U.S. Senator John Ensign of Nevada, a Republican.
Governor Eliot Spitzer of New York, a Democrat.
U.S. Representative Mark Foley of Florida, a Republican.
President Bill Clinton, a Democrat.
New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, a Democrat
See a pattern here? No, you don't. There are Republicans, there are Democrats. Neither party has a lock on the role of sexual misconduct. It's the job, the position, the power.
By the way, there have been a few women politicians who have confessed to bad conduct recently, as well. So it's not just men.
So, what do you do? Not vote for any of them? That's what some people say. I think we . . . the voters AND THEIR BOSSES . . . have to just try to elect the best person and, if he fails, send him home.