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About Paul R. Hollrah, O.E.
Paul R. Hollrah is a freelance writer. He is a member of the Civil Engineering Academy of Distinguished Alumni at the University of Missouri - Columbia and a Senior Fellow at the Lincoln Heritage Institute. He currently resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Past Articles
The Mark Sanford Affair
GM's 330-Page Death Warrant
History Repeats Itself
Obama the Cyber Snowman
The Sotomayor Nomination
A 100-Day Report Card
Corrupting the 2010 Census
Our Presidential Dilemma
The Drug War is Lost
The Icarus Factor
The Four Horsemen of the (American) Apocalypse
Bernie & Ruth & Chuck & Hillary
Obama is Dancing, But Who Calls the Tune?
Well...Is He, or Isn’t He?
A Tale of Two Impeachments
The Road to Fascism
Mad Max Threatens California
The Opaque Presidency
Goodbye, George Bush
The Supreme Court’s Hottest Potato
Rich White Trash
Amazing Grace: The American Sequel
Electoral Reform: The Multiple Vote
The Electoral College Has Failed
Real Electoral Reform
Something is Rotten...in the US Senate
Obama’s "Butt Boys”
Off with Their Heads
Our Sacred Cows are Coming Home to Roost
Russian Democracy: A Missed Opportunity
The Impatient Mr. Fitzgerald
Buying Soiled Underwear
Martin Luther King’s Nightmare
Slackers & Useful Idiots
The End of the Culture War
Who Killed the Automobile Industry?
Another Elephant in the Living Room
From Little ACORNS
Israel Dodges a Bullet
Just Because He’s Black
Loose Lips

Paul R. Hollrah, O.E.

The Mark Sanford Affair
June 30, 2009

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has recently reappeared after a week-long absence...an absence during which his whereabouts were unknown to his wife, his children, his staff, and his political advisors.

 

Prior to his departure on June 18, following a protracted court battle over South Carolina’s share of federal economic stimulus funds, he made casual mention to his staff that he’d like to spend some time hiking the Appalachian Trail, in order to "clear his head.” However, we now know that he was not "clearing his head” in the Appalachians, he was in Argentina, visiting a woman with whom he’s been carrying on an illicit love affair for the past year.

 

It has become a familiar theme in recent decades as more and more powerful politicians have had promising careers ruined by sexual infidelity. Why? Why would they take such risks? And why is it that only conservatives and Republicans are made to pay a high price for their infidelity?

 

Throughout the ages, love and sex have been the root of many difficulties...between husbands and wives, between lovers, between total strangers, and even between nations...because no one has ever figured out how to dampen what is the strongest of all emotions, or how to guarantee a monogamous sex life while surrounded by temptation. What we do know is that sexual mores have undergone massive shifts over the years and that God has a way of seriously blindsiding those who insist most loudly that they are immune to lust and/or extramarital temptations.

 

Growing up during the 1940s and ‘50s, few of us had anything even remotely resembling a healthy attitude toward sex. In the stilted atmosphere of small-town Missouri, where I grew up, what we thought we knew about sex we learned in whispered conversations with our friends and classmates. It certainly was not a topic that parents, teachers, and children discussed openly.

 

As boys and girls attending a Lutheran parochial school, we were all taught that sex was something that only men enjoyed and that all women hated...an activity they engaged in after marriage only because it was their duty to they husbands. And since we were all pretty much convinced that pre-marital sex was a sure-fire, one-way ticket to hell, we tended to walk the straight and narrow. It was in the post-puberty phase...when we first experienced that wonderful hit-by-a-truck, kicked-in-the-stomach kind of emotional love that we spend a lifetime searching for...that the sexual aspects of the male-female relationship became a problem.

 

While the misinformation about human sexuality that had been pounded into us tended to keep teen pregnancies to a minimum, it also insured that we would all approach adulthood with more than our share of neuroses. As best I can remember, we all viewed sex pretty much like Moses must have viewed the Promised Land. We knew it was there and we knew where it was, but we also knew that our chances of ever seeing it were pretty close to slim or none.

 

But then came the so-called "sexual revolution” when women threw off their Puritan bonds, burned their bras, and declared to the world that the "weaker sex” just might enjoy a "romp in the hay” as much as their male counterparts. I don’t know about the rest of the male population, but the mere thought of it scared the hell out of me.

 

Having been preoccupied with marriage, raising children, getting an education, and pursuing a career, I paid little attention to what was happening on the front lines of the "sexual revolution.” I suppose I knew it was going on, but since I had "no dog in that hunt” I simply ignored it and wasn’t confronted by it until I was divorced in 1976, after nearly twenty years of marriage.

 

My face-to-face confrontation with the world of sexually liberated women coincided almost exactly with my entry into the world of politics. It was a culture shock of major proportions because it was then that I observed for the first time the very powerful and dangerous amalgam that is sex and politics. As we have seen in recent years in one political scandal after another, political power is a very strong aphrodisiac.

 

However, experience teaches us that Republicans and Democrats tend to approach such matters in entirely different ways. With the exception of Republican Senator Larry Craig, of Idaho, who pled guilty to having adopted a "wide stance” while seated on a commode in a men’s restroom in Minneapolis, Republicans tend to take their medicine alone, standing humiliated in the glare of the television lights, while Democrats nearly always have their wives standing beside them...I suppose as a means of generating a bit of sympathy that, hopefully, will rub off on them.

 

Senator Bob Packwood (R-OR) was accused of having kissed one or two of his female aides without their permission. He faced public humiliation alone. When Democrats leaked to the press that Speaker-designate Bob Livingston (R-LA) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (R-IL), who led the Clinton impeachment investigation, had engaged in brief extramarital love affairs many years before, both men took the heat alone.

 

When it was learned that Cong. Mark Foley (R-FL) had exchanged e-mails with a former House page, asking that he send photographs of himself, Foley faced the heat alone. When it was learned that Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) had used the services of a prostitute, Vitter stood alone before the TV cameras. When Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) disclosed that he’d had an affair with a female aide, he stood alone before the TV cameras. Nor has Gov. Sanford called upon his wife to humiliate herself by standing beside him while he publicly confesses his sins.

 

Democrats, on the other hand, invariably share their public humiliation with their wives, who dutifully stand beside them as sad-eyed props. Jack Kennedy is known to have carried on love affairs with Hollywood actresses Marlene Dietrich, Angie Dickinson, Rhonda Fleming, Audrey Hepburn, Janet Leigh, Jayne Mansfield, Marilyn Monroe, Kim Novak, and Jean Tierney.

 

But, of all of Kennedy’s love interests, the most interesting were Ingrid Arvad, a Nazi spy; Ellen Rometsch, an East German/Soviet spy; and Judith Exner, the girlfriend of Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana. Kennedy’s relationship with Arvad made him a security risk during World War II, his affair with Rometsch took place in the shadow of the Cuban missile crisis, while his affair with Exner created interesting questions about Kennedy’s relationship with Giancana...whom the CIA had recruited to assassinate Fidel Castro. If only the walls had ears...or tape recorders.

 

Throughout the time that Kennedy was engaged in serial extramarital affairs, his wife Jackie was made to stand at his side at innumerable public events, a much-practiced smile glued to her face.

 

FDR, whose wife was a recognizable public figure in her own right, carried on a long love affair with Mrs. Roosevelt’s secretary, Lucy Mercer, who was with him when he died. After the affair was uncovered, Mrs. Roosevelt maintained a "stiff upper lip” and continued on in her marriage.

 

When Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton announced for the presidency, his reputation preceded him. Clinton used Arkansas state troopers as procurers and facilitators, and when one attractive target, Juanita Broaddrick, ignored his advances, he simply reverted to "Plan B.” He gained access to her hotel room under false pretenses and raped her.

 

Clinton’s most notorious sex partner was 19-year-old White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. And when Clinton was forced to admit in a nationally-televised speech that he had, in fact, engaged in an improper relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, his wife sat by his side and blamed her husband’s difficulties on a "vast right wing conspiracy.”

 

Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) drove a car off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, leaving his young female companion, Mary Jo Kopechne, to die a horrible death. When he was held responsible his pregnant wife, Joan, who was bedridden because of two prior miscarriages, was sent to attend the Kopechne funeral. She was also required to stand beside Kennedy in court three days later as he entered a guilty plea to a reduced charge of "having left the scene of an accident”.

 

When New Jersey governor James McGreevey admitted to a homosexual affair with an aide, his aggrieved wife was forced to share in his humiliation. When it was learned that Governor Eliot Spitzer, of New York, had patronized a beautiful call girl in New York and Washington, his wife stood stone-faced by his side. When California Cong. Gary Condit, New York governor David Paterson, and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome publicly admitted to sexual indiscretions, their wives stood glumly by their sides, sharing in their public humiliation. Then, of course, we have Barney Frank, whose male lover ran a homosexual prostitution ring out of his Capitol Hill residence. In that instance, Barney had no wife to help him through the ordeal.

 

None of these men can be excused for their behavior. The decision to engage in an extramarital affair, while it always involves factors far beyond the understanding of those not involved, is still a matter of personal choice and blame can only be assessed to the wrongdoers. But for whatever it’s worth, Sanford’s infidelity was based on love, while Kennedy and Clinton’s infidelities, even to the point of committing rape, were based on nothing more than lust, the irrepressible need for a release of sexual energy. It doesn’t excuse Sanford’s behavior but it does allow us to see it with a bit of compassion.

 

Finally, we might ask why Republicans and Democrats who stray are treated so differently by the media. The reason, it has been suggested, is that Democrats lay no claim to moral turpitude. In their approach to governance they are prepared to support any misappropriation of property rights and any misappropriation of individual rights, so long as the misappropriation inures to the benefit of the Democratic Party and its candidates.

 

For Democrats, it is the only standard by which good and evil may be judged. It is the coin of their realm.

 

Compared to the Nixon tapes, the Kennedy-Arvad, Kennedy-Exner, and Kennedy-Rometsch "pillow talk” would have made fascinating listening.
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